My wife is not a big fan of my fashion sense (or lack, thereof). In fact, she's long noted the fact that I "dress like I'm 15" (her words), and with few exceptions - such as when I'm attending a red carpet premiere in Los Angeles), her thoughts are very accurate. I've adopted what I often note as my "uniform" - much like late Apple CEO (and nemesis of PC guys like myself) Steve Jobs was once known for wearing the same thing every day (black turtle neck, jeans, tennis shoes), I'm usually wearing a t-shirt, cargo shorts (generally camo), skate shoes and a chain wallet. For the latter item, I've been wearing a Boba Fett edition that I purchased at Spencer's last year, and for the sake of styling, there's actually three chains on it right now - the "stock" chain that came with it, one from a Walmart chain wallet, and a longer one from Hot Topic. Indeed, I do dress like I'm 15 - despite being closer to three times that. "Chain wallets are stupid," scoffs my wife on frequent occasion, and while I do like the way they look - I truly wear them for another, more important reason: to avoid being pickpocketed at all the theme parks and event locations that we constantly visit with The Rock Daughters™. Today I ran into someone else that had a problem with my Boba Fett chain wallet, and that was security at one of our most frequently-visited spots: Six Flags Great America, right here in Lake County, Illinois. What happened at the gate is a prime lesson in why consistency is so important in any job (especially service industries), and an important reminder that sometimes "it's not what you say, but how you say it" that can make all the difference in the world.
Seven years ago this August... and again four years ago this week, babies were born, and so was "The Rock Father." - My wife and I were driving south on I-94 outside of Chicago in November of 2008. We were on our way to a Thanksgiving gathering that was happening pre-Thanksgiving, and she turned to me very quickly and said "I think you knocked me up." That was the moment that I first realized that I'd soon become a Father for the very first time. The weight of things didn't really hit me, but I remember smiling ear-to-ear and just thinking, "OK - let's do this!" She was afraid that I'd be unhappy about the news - especially because just the night before... I'd been on the phone with my Mom, who was shopping at Target with a couple of my step-brother's kids - and as they were acting out and being naughty - I made some quip about "this is why we don't have kids!" Funny thing is, I've always been good with kids - but there's also definitely an "old me" versus the man who I've become. On August 7, 2009 - our 10th Wedding Anniversary - our first daughter, Adalyn, was born. We liked the experience so much that we prepped a sequel, and were back at the hospital four years ago today - June 15, 2012, for the release of our second "Rock Daughter," baby Finley! The personal change that I've experienced as a father is undeniable, and both I and my wife have our girls to thank for it.
I try to keep things fun and lighthearted around here, yet the world won't let me. Sometimes I wonder what it would be like to look at the news and think "didn't know them," or "don't care," but the reality is, I care... we all care. I have a bad habit of waking up to horrible news, a habit that I'm well-aware is shared by many, with 9/11 and the disintegration of Space Shuttle Columbia being two examples of where I simply opened my eyes to see the tragedy on television. Social media wasn't full-blown back then, and today I made the mistake of checking my phone first-thing... still in bed, but with my wife at my side and my girls playing. The news that something terrible had happened in Orlando -- just days after another heinous act in that city -- was unavoidable, as were the never-ending "thoughts and prayers" delivered by the tens of thousands via status update and tweet, none more insincere than those delivered by politicians, with tweets by some such as GNC Chair Reince Priebus being called out for essentially being "copied and pasted" from their statements about past tragedies. Sandy Hook, Boston, that jerk in Fox Lake - we're long-past the whole "truth is stranger than fiction" thing, because real life is more twisted and terrifying than any media created for purpose of entertainment or to be fear-provoking. This country is a mess, and "thoughts and prayers" will do nothing to help anyone... but the proper actions and reactions just might.
Originally Posted as a Status Update on Facebook...
Seeing Park Forest, Illinois as the #1 Trending Topic on my Facebook Feed is interesting -- seeing folks from around the country commenting on a place they've probably never heard of, but one I know all too well. Let me tell you this - there is no town or city on this planet that I DESPISE in the way I do Park Forest. I grew up there - in fact, just .06 miles (about a 10 minute walk) from where the FBI had a shootout yesterday. It was a miserable place to grow up 30-40 years ago (though I have some good memories as well) -- a place that looks and feels to me like "alternate 1985" in BACK TO THE FUTURE II... right down to the houses and streets.
Four years ago, I celebrated one-year tobacco-free with a journal entry about my personal journey. Then, in 2013, I posted again, celebrating the two-year anniversary of coming clean (indeed, cigarettes are a drug), followed by another post in 2014 documenting year three, and how I couldn't get Philip Morris/Altria to leave me alone (they since have, but only after I threatened legal action). In 2015, I posted again, and since then little bits have changed, like Cracker Barrel restaurants playing into the hands of Big Tobacco (presumably) not knowing it, and the rise of the e-cig and vape crowd. Today I am posting once again, as it's the five-year anniversary of kicking the habit. As I've done previously, I am re-posting much of my original entry here on THE ROCK FATHER, along with a few alterations and timely updates. Philip Morris/Altria and R.J Reynolds: The targets on the backs of your companies and leadership continue to grow...
March 14, 2011 is the day that I officially quit smoking. At some point on the night of March 13, I quietly took the last puff of the last cigarette in the last pack that I ever owned. Upon telling my wife that I was officially ''done,'' she took it upon herself to clean-up some of the ''smoker's mess'' that I'd created. The ashtrays of both cars were scoured. The sand-filled flowerpots that I'd strategically placed on my front porch and near my gardening shed were disposed of, along with a ton of stray butts that had made their way into the surrounding landscape over the winter months. The cleansing had begun.