Archive for May, 2010

The Large Man Chronicles


I’m basically a coward. I fear many, MANY, things. If I could define my youth (let’s say up to age 30) with one word, I think that word would be fear. Fear of authority, fear of bullies, fear of clowns, fear of dogs, crippling fear of the ocean, nuclear holocaust, and Blue jays. (Their call is terrifying)  Fear of failure, fear of success, fear of everything.  I feared failure because everybody would see; I feared success because nobody would believe. Mostly, I always feared what people would think about me.

The biggest error in that bucket of bullshit is that I thought people cared one way or the other. The greatest lesson in obsession over what people think about you is realizing how seldom they actually do.  It isn’t that nobody cares, they just don’t care what kind of car you drive, what kind of house you live in, what you do for a job, and why you shave your head, or who you’re dating. They have their own stuff going on.

I’ve gotten over those fears, now I have a whole new bucket for Dr. Shrinkenstien. I should change the name of my blog site to The Irrational Man Chronicles. I should, but I won’t. I don’t see the ladies diggin The Irrational Man.

So check this out…

Last week I had tickets to see the Cubs play in Wrigley. Three days earlier, here were my thoughts:

How was I going to get there? What was the weather going to be like? Would I have the right clothes? Is this going to be a big drink fest? How will I get back to the hotel? What if the Cubs lose? Will there be a riot? Will I have to drink light beer? Are there troughs or urinals? (Hate the trough!) I might meet a friend from high school. Will she get along with my group?  When am I going to get some sleep?

Nonstop stuff like that for 3 days…it’s exhausting. I can’t look forward to anything. I never have. Irrational fear resides in the master bedroom at The Large House.

But I went. I went with my boss, and a couple of dudes I work with, and some customers – all of whom are good friends. It was a blast. All the things that could go wrong did go wrong. It rained, it was cold, I drank too much, I spent too much money, and…it was a blast.  IT’S WRIGLEY! HOW COULD IT NOT BE A BLAST!?!

Wrigley Field is a national treasure. The Cubs got me through knee surgery rehab several years ago, so they are sort of an adopted team. I love downtown Chicago. There is nothing about this event that could be bad. The smell of the ballpark, seats 4 rows off the first base line, the hope of an unruly fan being tazed, the company of good friends, the “buzz” of Murphy’s Bleachers – before and after the game…all on a Wednesday afternoon – technically at work. What a great time, once I got there.

I think now about what I might have missed, had I not sent fear to bed early that day. Had I followed my cowardly instincts, I would have sat in a hotel room with a Subway sandwich and a remote control, maybe one of those inflatable dolls…who knows. But I went. I went and I knocked something off the bucket list. Wrigley Field is a big deal, and I was there.

If you read the previous Chronicle you’ll know I’m at the beach this week. Several months ago, I booked a charter boat for me and my kids. Seemed like a great idea at the time. What an experience to be able to provide for my children. Even better, the charter Captain was an acquaintance of mine from high school, and the younger brother of a lifelong friend.  This is good for everybody.

But then beach week comes, the weather has been…soupy. It’s cold, it’s misting constantly, and you’re just waiting for a thunderstorm to blow up any minute.

I’ve been deep-sea fishing on several occasions. I have caught and released two citation marlin, put a few tuna in the cooler, Wahoo, Dolphin (Mahi Mahi, not flipper). It’s fair to say I’m an experienced saltwater fisherman. Not an expert, but experienced.

So…as per my normal routine, around Friday last week I start obsessing over this fishing trip. There are so many things that can go wrong. A saltwater fishing rod and reel goes for about $200. The tackle is costly as well. We’re not going after “big game” fish, but still…my kids are little kids. My 9-year-old boy has the body of an NFL tight end, and the disposition of a sensitivity trainer. My 11-year-old daughter is in a whole other world 70% of the time. She’s an artist, we just haven’t figured out her medium yet. If Captain Mike starts barking orders in that Carolina drawl, my son’s gonna freak out and throw the rod and reel into the deep blue and start crying. If my daughter feels that the fish is too big, or that her brother is being wrongly chastised, or that we’re making too much noise for the Ospreys to be comfortable, she’ll just scream and toss her rig into the drink as well.

…and what are we going to eat, and the weather, and it’s a lot of money, and what if they get sea-sick, a hook in their eye. What’s Captain Mike gonna think? What’s he gonna tell his cute sister, and her cool husband. I decide on Sunday that I have to call and cancel our Monday afternoon trip; I’ll do it in the morning.

On Monday morning the weather took care of things for me. The weather became an enabler to my neurosis. The folks from the Fish On (Captain Mike’s boat) called and said the weather was too dicey for a trip, and that we were rescheduled for 11:00 Wednesday.

I wanted to say, “Just bag it, I can’t afford to replace your fishing poles, and I’ll never be able to live with all the things that Captain Mike will think about my parenting skills”.

 I wanted to say that, but I said, “OK”.

So I was able to obsess and freak for 48 more hours. It’s so fun being me. Fortunately, I still drink.

At 10:30 on Wednesday, May 19, 2010 under an overcast sky, with a light mist peppering my really expensive royal blue Cubs t-shirt, I dialed the number for Fish On charters. Captain Mike’s lovely wife answered the phone and said, “Oh I’m glad you called. We went out this morning and did real well. Your kids are gonna have a blast. The waters a little rough getting through the inlet, but once you hit the ocean it’s OK. We’re at the dock, so get here as soon as you want.”

I wanted to say, “Go ahead and keep the deposit, we’re gonna bag it.”

But I said, “OK”.

I think now about what I might have missed. Truly, this was an experience of a lifetime.

We went on a boat ride of a lifetime for sure.  A 25 ft boat through 6 foot swells, battering the hell out of me and the kids – I was terrified (of course), but my babies screamed with delight. My daughter said, “This is better than a roller coaster!” The sensitive boy screams, “It’s like a tummy tickler in the car, but ALL DAY LONG!”  I wish I could describe the thrill of it all through their eyes…their faces were “all eyes”…wide open with excitement. The shoulder shudder happened with them both, two or three times. This was intense. This was big, and they were in the moment – connected.

We fished for about an hour, and they figured it out pretty quickly. They caught about 5 or 6 nice sized fish each, and they handled the boat, the choreography of handling multiple fish on at once, the seas, and the event very well. I was proud. Captain Mike was proud. And we didn’t break any of his stuff.

We started getting a little queasy in the rolling ocean, and feeling the fishing experience was good enough to quit on a good note, we take off to do some sightseeing. We come upon a pod of dolphins, and we just drift and watch them play. The kids are out of their minds with the coolness of it all, these dolphins, or porpoises are just 10 feet away from us, and when it can’t get any cooler, it does…

In between us and the dolphin pod, and unusually Large dolphin breaks the surface and blows – she’s 8 feet away, and she’s not a dolphin. She’s a whale. Probably a Humpback, because Pilot whales only get to be about 20 ft…this one is much longer than our 25 ft boat.

It’s one thing to see a whale when you go on a “Whale Watching “tour;  it’s something very different when you’re fishing for Bluefish, and Spanish Mackerel. I went deep-sea fishing 15 years in a row, and have never seen a whale before today. We saw her surface a couple more times before she went on her way. 

It’s also quite something to see the look on a child’s face when they know they’ve just done something special. To be 9 and 11 years old and get this gift is …magic. I will never forget this day, and I know they never will either. That is so friggin cool.

To think of what I might have missed.

I MUST send a special thank you to Captain Mike Muse of the Fish On. His patience with my kids was admirable; his patience with me was OUTSTANDING! His reputation as a charter boat Captain is based on what he catches. He chose to entertain two little kids, and one big kid. This is a good dude.

If you are ever in the Outer Banks and think a few hours of fishing sounds like fun, give him a shot. You won’t be disappointed.    www.fishonobx.com   Tell them The Large Man sent ya.

Special thanks to all of you readers for letting me share this journey.

Until next time…

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The Large Man Chronicles


This Chronicle is not intended to challenge anyone’s faith. It is not intended in any way to dismiss or argue your closely held beliefs. I have GREAT respect for your faith, your religion, and all the things that your heart tells you. Your truth is yours – please keep it… hold on to it. Honor it!  Share it with others if you wish, and know that at least one person, (a person wearing a XXL t-shirt perhaps) respects your position and your right to share it.

Me on the other hand, I always wonder. I think I was born to wonder. I always wonder how the God that I was taught about as a child would let the things happen that I have seen happen in this world. I still believe, but I wonder.

I don’t wonder if, I wonder how. I just wonder how it all really works.

I’m not sure everything I was taught, or everything written is the whole truth and nothing BUT the truth. Sometimes, I think there may have been an agenda, maybe a flaw in mankind’s interpretation here and there. Maybe certain people, in certain positions of power could have manipulated the facts to serve other purposes. I am not proclaiming, I am pondering.

Ultimately, I believe that true understanding is greater than the human mind can comprehend anyway. Whether it’s God, or Buddha, Zeus, or the Universe…whatever It is, I think It’s bigger, and more complex, or possibly it’s even simpler than we expect. That’s what I think.

But I DO believe.  How could someone not believe?

I have friends that don’t believe, but I don’t get the “whys” behind it. Generally the people I talk to who think there is nothing after this life, and nothing bigger than what we have here on Earth, are people who are smarter than everybody else…just ask them. May God (or the Universe) help me if I am ever that person.  I ain’t smarter than nobody. It’s all science and facts and proof with these people. Some things defy science…many things defy science. You could ask a bunch of scientists and many of them would tell you the same thing.

Maybe there’s a little science involved. Maybe there’s higher power involved too. Maybe there’s a little bit of both. It’s all pretty complex to me. You may have it figured out. I do not.

If you ever get a chance, look at the portrait that is my Facebook profile picture… a little black and white number of my children. The artist is a seemingly ordinary chick named Margi Fisher.  She’s pretty and everything and she doesn’t look like she’s aged a day in 30 years, but other than that she seems to be of this world. But how does she take her human hands, and her human eyes, and create that beauty? It’s not beautiful because it’s my kids – anybody would look at this work of art and say, “Wow.” I look at it, and I believe that there is something bigger than a few years of art class working through Margi. Most people can’t do that. I think God has a hand in that.

I wish God would help me with ending sentences in a preposition, or with a prepositional phrase. I find it EXTREMELY annoying, but sometimes the sentence only works that way. He or She may be occupied with other things, and I’m not complaining, I’m just sayin.

When I hear Chet Adkins, Stevie Ray Vaughn, Doc Watson, Wayne Henderson, Joe Satriani, and countless others play a guitar, I believe. I have a couple of guitars, I have played the guitar most of my life – but I can’t do what they do. Not even a little bit.

Listen to Martina McBride’s voice, Bonnie Raitt, Trisha Yearwood, and Patty Griffin… listen to Eva Cassidy sing Over the Rainbow, listen to Etta James sing At Last, listen to Aretha Franklin sing anything, and try NOT to believe. I don’t see how someone couldn’t believe.

I’m writing this from a room overlooking the ocean; I’m listening to the surf pound against the shore over and over and over – it’s so big and relentless, it’s scary. Next time you get a chance, just look at it and feel small – close your eyes and listen to it and feel small. If you can’t feel it, I feel sorry for you. It’s still one of the most magical things I’ve ever witnessed, and I have seen some magic in my day.  I could be here every day and still feel it. When I stand in front of the ocean I feel the power.

I thank God or the Universe, (hmmm…maybe both) that They gave my children the same awe. I watched them play with reckless abandon at the edge of their world today. This was their first trip to the beach when a hand did not have to be held. They were afraid, and thrilled, and fascinated, and awed by the power and the beauty. They couldn’t stay in because it was too much, they couldn’t stay out because…because it was too much.

“It just goes forever dad! It never stops!”

Yep, pretty much. They said it better than I could. It’s pretty simple.

Things like the ocean, music, art, and good friends like you, make me think the Universe is a little more complex than carbon based matter evolving. Or, maybe it’s simpler. I don’t know, and I always wonder, but I surely believe.

Until next time, go look for something that makes you believe.

Thanks for reading.

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The Large Man Chronicles

May 3, 2010

Wondering what to write about…

The Large Man Chronicles project was actually born out of boredom, with a bit of mischief and yearning sprinkled in. October, November and December are productive months creatively because Inspiration is everywhere during that time. My view of the world in the fall is in a constant state of amazement. I have fall colors, my birthday, Halloween, the NFL, the world of magic created by my wife, and the holiday season. It is, and has always been, a magical time for me – probably for most of us. In the fall and early winter, Inspiration wraps her loving arms around me, and hugs me like I’m a big Teddy bear. I soak her in.

Later in the winter, while I’m sleeping, she grabs my ATM card and heads south. It becomes more difficult for me to take the time to focus on writing about life because I’m actually out living. I coach my son’s basketball team in January and February; I travel my ass off in January, February, & March. I’m work focused and happy…so there’s that.

The point:

A few weeks ago I had a friend give me a strong lecture on the things I need write about. This lecture came in the middle of a conversation where I didn’t ask her what she thought I should be doing to get more stories into my blog page. The only thing worse than shitty advice is unsolicited advice. I guess shitty, unsolicited advice is the absolute in worsness, but that’s a redundant term. (I realize that worsness is not a word. Back off!)

I don’t want to write something for the sake of writing something. The beauty of a blog page is that I DON’T have a deadline, or an editor, publisher, teacher, or critic (I like critique) telling me what I “need to do”.

I wish I had more to say…more to write about, but Inspiration is a strange mistress. She shows herself to me only in the least convenient times.  Great story lines pop into my head while listening to a customer complain about real stuff that needs attention,  while I’m sitting at a friend’s house watching her kids make S’mores in their cool as shit outdoor fireplace, or while I’m coaching my best friend through a minor emotional crisis. She rarely shows up at 7:30 PM in room 219 at the Crowne Plaza, Courtyard, or Hampton. Inspiration is a bitch.

She is a whisper on the wind that come and goes with little interruption – you have to be looking and listening. When you’re locked into a moment – a conversation with a friend, a movie climax that you won’t pause to jot down a note, anything like that is when she decides she wants to play. If you ignore her for a second,  she will pass you by and go to that prick Stephen King’s house. 

I’m completely serious. Inevitably, when I’m alone in my hotel room my mistress leaves me. She leaves, and she takes her toys with her. She takes all the “ooooo, I should write that down” stuff that was in my head earlier in the day.  So it’s damn near impossible to convey to all you sensitive people the magic that I get to see. It’s out there, but I just forget.  How is that possible? How can I ever forget?

What to do? What to do? What to write about…

… a few weeks ago in Texas while I’m sitting on the back porch of my dear friend’s home, it occurs to me how cool it is to have a lifelong friendship with this chick. Let’s call her Rachael, for the sake of the story. Furthermore, it’s cooler still to call her husband (we’ll call him John) my friend too. Knowing that I’m as welcome with him as I am with her is…well it’s just cool. Cool is the only word that fits. Stuff like that doesn’t happen often. I’m thinking all this while the three of us were talking about dogs. I’m in the moment with them, but the “cool” of it all is tumbling around in the back of my brain.

Then I remember something…

 Many years ago, in a driving rain, in December; a 17-year-old Rachael drove all the way across town to pick me up for my varsity football banquet – about 9 miles one way. Then with me and a bowl of macaroni salad (pot luck kinda deal) drove all the way back to about 1 mile from where she lived, where we attended the banquet. Then she drove me back home, and drove herself back. I’m no geographical genius, (well, actually I AM a geographical genius) but simple math tells me that Rach drove about 36 miles in a nasty rain…in December, so that I could receive a letter in football for sitting on the bench of a state championship runner-up football team…18 of those miles all by herself – in a nasty, cold, treacherous rain storm. ALL this took place after she decided that we probably shouldn’t date anymore. She did this just for me, just because she liked me I guess. That is a friend. I doubt that I ever properly thanked her; I hope this mention at least shows her how much I appreciate her.

I also need to mention that her little sister was solely responsible for getting one of my stories published. Little sister’s husband is as cool as the other side of the pillow as well.  I thanked Rachael’s little sister immediately after the story got published, but I don’t have the game to write those words of appreciation. That’s Harper Lee kind of writing.

I could also talk about their Mom. Their Mom’s simple story of kindness to me will get its own page someday.

You might notice that I feel a little bit attached to these girls. I think I had to know and love Rachael and her little sister (let’s call her Carla) to be able to know and love anyone else, even my wife. Those chicks are a big reason why women are my weakness, and my strength. Women are my inspiration. This all just occurred to me… just now.

So I guess I could write about that…

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