02 May 2016

In brief

107 days until TMFKATB returns, but who's counting?
Brevity, thy name is TMFKATB.

With this week's letter, he continued his streak of brief updates. I am beginning to believe he's doing this on purpose because he knows it's driving me nuts. If that's his real intent, well, he's hitting it out of the park.

The reality is I don't have much longer to gripe about the length of these weekly updates. Late last week, we got information regarding his release date and travel request information for his return back to the 'Stan. He's going to be home in the proverbial blink of an eye and this two year cavalcade of stories that I've been sharing with you will come to an end. I'm going to miss sharing this experience. Until that day comes, though, I'll keep the updates coming, no matter how brief the content.

As for this week, he's happy and he's focusing on the three things that have helped him to stay happy: humility, repentance, and forgiveness. While he didn't get into specifics, natch, he mentioned how those three principles have helped him to stay happy throughout his missionary service. I know that if he can stay focused on those principles in his post-mission life, he'll sure have a better understanding of his fellow man and some of the things that make them tick. It will help him to stay happy.

We have an additional measure of happiness awaiting us this weekend when we'll be able to see him, thanks to a Mothers Day Skype call. Sunday is going to be a great day, can I just tell you? At that point, it'll be down to 102 days, but who's counting?


Yeah, this is pretty much how it played out
One of the things I had warned CAL about as she made the move to America's, oh how do I put this delicately, most insane state, was its state bug, the cockroach, or the Palmetto Bug as it is graciously called there. Let me assure you, as I tried to assure and warn her as any good father/Florida refugee would, there is nothing gracious about this indestructible strain of cockroach. I knew it would only be a matter of time before she'd have a dramatic encounter with one of them.  When I woke up this morning and opened my Twitter feed, there it was. She'd had her Palmetto bug showdown and she documented the whole thing in an epic Twitter rant. With her permission, I share it with you now in the order it played out, because it's genius.

  • Tonight marks a truly defining moment for me. As I'm getting into bed I hear this noise in my blinds. I thought it was just a fly no big deal.
  • I keep hearing the noise and then I see its no fly...it's a FREAKING COCKROACH! So I jump out of bed and run into my bathroom and slam the door.
  • I sat in the bathroom for 3 minutes listening to this nasty thing take over my room like its the freaking Queen of England 
  • After 8 minutes of hiding in the bathroom and every so often opening the door to see if I can see it, I decided to put on my big girl pants.
  • I stepped out of the bathroom flip flop in hand ready to kill, and I saw it on my laptop. No way was I going to get it on my computer.
  • So I ran back into the bathroom. Two more minutes pass and I step out again. There it is just siting on the floor...taunting me... 
  • I flailed my arm and smacked down on the ground as hard as I could. I had my eyes closed so I didn't know if I'd actually killed it.
  • So I open my eyes hoping this cockroach would be dead & not spring back at me the second I opened my eyes. And there it was dead on the ground.
  • I had killed it! There was no life left in that cockroach to come back at me. I ran back to the bathroom to grab tissues to cover this thing.
  • Then I grab that pile of tissues with the roach dead inside and flushed that thing down the toilet as hard as I could.
  • And that is the end of my story. It was probably the most terrifying 13 minutes of my life.
  • But I alone killed a cockroach and I didn't even cry or scream for help. Tonight is a really big night for me.
So there you have it. No crying. No screaming. PETA be damned. She took care of that nemesis. That she had the presence of my mind to document it on Twitter in near real time makes me laugh. This probably means if she's ever in an airplane evacuation, she'll put the evac on Periscope.


27 April 2016

On Women

#MoreThanMean @justnotsports
I jumped on an early Metro North train yesterday afternoon in order to get back to the 'Stan (yes, the shadow government run by the frosty iron fist of Martha Stewart does still allow for free elections here) in order to vote. As is my norm, I perused the Twittersphere for news. I stumbled upon a Tweet with a fast trending hashtag:


Intrigued, I clicked through to the link and watched this. The four minute video is nothing short of horrifying. With my jaw hanging agape in shock, I sat stunned watching it. Once I was able to collect my thoughts, my first cogent reaction was to damn the Interwebs for the perverse sense of boldness its anonymity gives people. Only the sickest (and small handed too - trust me, I'm getting to THAT connection) psychopathic misogynist would have the temerity to say these things to a woman's face. My second reaction was a galling, sickening sense of shame that I, as a man, share the same genetic makeup of the human detritus that, cowering behind the anonymity of the internet, wrote these things about women. My third reaction was to think of the amazing women in my life, starting with my wife and daughters, and how I wanted nothing more to insure no one ever treats them like this. 

With those jumble of emotions still roiling through me, I made my way to our nearly (thanks, voter apathy!) empty polling place to cast my vote in the presidential primary. At first, I thought I was being punked because there was a candidate on the ballot named 'Rocky de la Fuente' (turns out he's real - disillusioned - but real). I flipped my ballot over several times to see if it was printed by a Trump company, just to be sure. Assured that my ballot was the real deal, I cast my vote. Without telling you for whom I cast my vote, I can tell you this - my mother is hugely disappointed in me. The funny thing is that as I cast my vote, my mother, along with so many women in my life were on my mind because of the #MoreThanMean campaign video I'd just seen. 

I have been fortunate to have known amazing women throughout my life. My mother, who scooped me into her arms when I was two days old, declared me her own and has never looked back or given up on me. My sister, who is smart, loving, and tough as nails. My wife - there are not enough words to describe her impact on my life. I try to be a better man because of her. My daughters - the joy of my life and my hope. I see so much good in them and see the potential that they have to do so much good in the worlds they inhabit. I've been taught by amazing women - a high school teacher, a former nun, who brought the study of Humanities alive; a Sunday School teacher in California whose skill I try to live up to each Sunday that I teach. I've been fortunate to work with strong, funny, smart, resilient women too. I'm lucky to call a diverse, fascinating group of women friends. I've been blessed by each of these associations. Quite simply, I am a better man because of the women in my life.

I'm far from the perfect son, father or husband and I know I've been a tool on more than one occasion.  But I cannot understand the mentality of a man that can totally get behind the behavior highlighted in the #MoreThanMean campaign. It's not just women sportswriters/journalists that endure this kind of vitriol. It's rampant. It's disgusting. Yet, the presumptive (and small handed misogynist) Republican presidential nominee leads the pack in this behavior. His marital history is proof of his respect for women (umm...tick tock, Melania, you're probably about to hit your expiry date). His infamous Twitter feed is littered with hate-filled rants against women. He's now hitting out against Hillary Clinton in his typical cowardly, bloviating way, calling her names and accusing her of shouting at him. Apparently, in his sick world, when a woman has the unmitigated gall to respond to one his hysteric rants, that's 'shouting.' The cowardice on display is beyond the pale. He embodies #MoreThanMean. This anonymous quote nailed it:

Strong women scare weak men.

And yet, there are women who support him. I cannot understand how any woman can support his candidacy. It defies all logic. But I think we can all agree that the logic ship sank a long time ago when it comes to this campaign. 

There's no logic either in the behavior of men who go after women in such hateful ways, as was illustrated in the #MoreThanMean video. Aren't we better than that? We should be. We should be better to the women in our lives. They are amazing. They make us better.

Stop the mean. Love the women in your lives. We'd all be better for it.

Thank you to @justnotsports for starting this discussion. May it be the beginning of the end of hate towards the women in our lives.

25 April 2016

Healthy Service

The good people at British Airways have a motto to which they strive to adhere: To fly, to serve

I think missionaries like TMFKATB might play on that motto slightly: To work, to teach, to serve

In this week's letter, he talked a little about the opportunities for service that arose during the week. He seemed pretty excited about the chance to do "lots of service!" This led him to lament that he was pretty sore as a result. He and his companion tackled some junk-filled yards that, in by his observation, were allowed to junk up specifically for this missionaries to clean up. I'm not buying that but he talked about the fun they had helping the people with whom they are working. The best part of it was when he said, "I am feeling healthy and strong again."

That, my friends, was music to our ears. Healthy and strong and finding joy in service, even if it was clearing the detritus someone had let build up in their yard. There really is joy in getting outside and doing something for someone else. There's no thanks required or needed. The thanks comes in the feeling you get when doing right by or for someone else. It's a really good feeling. The more you serve, the better you feel. That's the beauty of it.