dad

Wrong Thinking

Here’s a story about what I call “Wrong Thinking.”

Way back in high school when I was playing baseball, a pitcher named Catfish Hunter became the first baseball player to get paid over a million dollars a year. I thought that was crazy, in a bad way. One day I talked to my dad about it, and asked him why people like farmers and engineers who did more important work didn’t get paid like that.

He didn’t have a great answer at the time, and that thought kept on bothering me. These days I think a correct answer he could have given me goes like this: “Baseball is in the entertainment business, just like singers and actors. For whatever reason, some sort of supply and demand, society is willing to pay those people a lot of money. So if the money bothers you, what you can do is make that money just like Catfish Hunter, and then give it away however you see fit.”

The sins of the father

“They don’t wash off easily, do they?”

“What’s that?”

“The sins of the father.”

~ from The Good Cop

My college admission story

My college admission story is that my dad said, “Son, go to college, I’ll figure out a way to pay for it.” Then after my freshman year he said, “Sorry, it turns out I can’t really afford to pay for it. Go get yourself some more grants and loans, and keep up the good work. May the Force be with you.”

Why do people refuse to take responsibility for their actions?

Why, I ask, do so many men (and women), whether they’re sixty-five or twenty-five, refuse to take responsibility for their actions?

Springsteen sighs. “I would go back to DNA. If you grow up in a household where people are refusing to take responsibility for their lives, chances are you’re gonna refuse. You’re gonna see yourself as a professional victim. And once that’s locked into you, it takes a lotta self-awareness, a lotta work to come out from under it. I’m shocked at the number of people that I know who fall into this category. And it has nothing to do with whether you’re successful or not. It’s just your baggage. So that’s important to communicate to your children: They have to take responsibility for who they are, their actions, what they do. They’ve got to own their lives.”

~ this quote, which reminds me of some people in the Alexander clan, is from this interview with Bruce Springsteen

Feeling more free after my parents’ divorce

Something I just realized when writing a friend is that after my parents were divorced, everyone but my dad was much happier. During my senior year of high school my parents were still married and my dad had a child with a woman who wasn’t my mother, which led to the divorce. He could be verbally abusive at times — extremely so — and in our high school photos we often looked like the most depressed family in the world. But after he left, everyone felt more free to be themselves without fear of reprisal.

“I’m embarrassed by my family” (the high school years)

Today I’m going to take a break from the technical stuff that I usually write about, and write about something from my past that may be important to other people: When I was young, especially when I was in high school, I was embarrassed by my family, and that had a HUGE effect on my feelings and behavior. In retrospect the way I dealt with it was dumb, but I wasn’t very mature and I dealt with it in the first way that occurred to me.

Karma goes on for generations

I don’t know how my father was raised, but at times he could be domineering, mean, and negative. That has created a “cause and effect” karmic ripple that continues to influence people generations later, and long after his death.

(To be clear, he wasn’t all bad.)

Happy Father’s Day, 2017

When my dad was my current age (and I was 20), I didn’t know it, but that would be the last time I’d see him until after lung cancer had ravaged his body. If I could have said, “Please quit trying to control my life, let me make my own mistakes, and I’ll let you know if I need any help” — and he would have agreed to that — we might have found a way to see each other again.

So, my recommendation is that if you have a dad, no matter how well you’re getting along, give him a hug. ;)

"Dad, can I borrow the car?" alvin March 4, 2017 - 9:11am

I can’t sleep tonight, so I’ll tell a story. I think I was 18 when this happened, maybe 19.

I ask my dad to let me borrow his car, he says yes, and I drive to a party with a friend of mine. The party is fun until my friend gets in a fight, punches his hand through a window, and cuts a big gash in his forearm. At one point I see his forearm and there’s a chunk of it that’s completely gone, and I can see the bone in his arm; it’s pretty bad.