The “Rant” started over 20 years ago as an acerbic and sarcastic response to those sappy and wholly unrealistic letters families send out around the holidays.. it’s matured since then of course… well somewhat…
I start this process every year by reading the past few rants, always interesting to wander back and think about my state of mind in those moments, it’s good for some laughs, tears, and few shakes of the head – “like dude WTF?”
Admittedly this year I got caught up in the memories and ended up going back 20 plus years; the digital archive only goes back to 2000; the rant was handwritten in the 90’s. Looking back though it’s funny the things we think are important when only viewing life through a 12-month lense. Taken collectively though it represents a quarter century of life; triumphs, failures, and retrospectively a bit of regret – a father’s narrative if you will on his family and their journey. I can’t help but smile at the brash naivete of some of those early ones, clearly I lacked perspective or at least the context of time.
You’re probably thinking… Oh Christ it’s going to be one of those… and well after thirty years of doing this I feel entitled to write whatever the fuck I want – however, there is plenty to rant about this year so don’t get in a twist we will get there. But not yet – I have the very good fortune of having four very engaged adult children – one of the chief benefits is genuine conversations; a week or so ago we were talking about some of those early days and the evolution of our family dynamic – the core six we call it. One of my sons wondered how or if things would have been different if Dad had been more vulnerable and open in those early years – admittedly he may have been drinking. Still, an interesting question and probably generated by a more open and “vulnerable” dad today; got me thinking though.
Now what the hell does this have to do with a rant you ask? Well maybe nothing, but it forced some introspection and every rant should have a bit of that don’t you think? Interestingly reading back through the years I can see the evolution, that ability to set the fight down and be more open and contemplative. I look back at the early years with a great deal of fondness – but they were tough and I always seemed to be battling: career, money, maintaining a young family – no question I armored up emotionally. No apologies, you do what it takes to get through and keep it together. Things are different now though and I am thankful to set the armor, as beat up as it is, aside and share at a completely different level with my family. They know it was never about loving them, I had to protect myself so I could protect them – not so easy to explain, but the older they get the more they understand. Possibly it’s the perspective of grandchildren and the context a multi-generational view provides; but not be to cliché, all those challenges really do teach you what’s important. No question though our ability to delve into topics like this in a loving and objective way has allowed us to gain a deeper understanding of each other and draws us even closer – it’s a true measure of the love that binds us together.
If you’re early in your journey consider opening a couple of chinks in the armor – no harm will come to you and you might find things are a bit easier to shoulder with some help and understanding from those closest to you. For us seasoned warriors, share the journey, have those important conversations with those that followed you into battle they deserve it. This isn’t a dad only thing either – the journey is shared and everyone has their battles along the way – but we need to learn to bind each other up and heal along the way – when those final notes fade into the breeze I don’t want to leave any wounded troops wondering why I made the choices I did or if I loved them. If you’re shaking your head and thinking, good Lord man what the hell… I’ll make it simple: don’t let all the shit in this world distract you from loving those important to you the rest is just noise.
Damn no ranting at all in that whole first page, well if you endured this far, let me tell you there was plenty of nonsense this year to piss me off. Where to even start the list is long: toxic corporate culture, COVID (haven’t we had enough of this?), why is no one working, a messed-up supply chain – which naturally leads to ridiculous grocery prices and there’s always Starbucks isn’t there?
I spent the first half of this year working sixty-hour weeks worshipping at the altar of corporate greed only to be unceremoniously sacrificed on a beautiful sunny Monday morning in May; no hard feelings though they had been showing their true colors for months and I probably should have seen it coming – it’s only business right? I decided it was an excellent excuse to take the summer off and detox a bit while figuring out what was next. I wasn’t alone though, there were 200+ of us let go that morning; normally losing a job isn’t a positive, but something really cool happened. We came together and started a vibrant digital community supporting each other – job leads, encouragement, and the knowledge that none of us had to go this alone. The ability to share the experience meant we didn’t have to armor up – unfortunately we have added another 500 or so to our group, but we’ve built a support system they can lean into. Great stuff right, but as positive as it is/was direct deposit is pretty damn good too and the folks that let all of us go are still worshipping. Looking back though, it was a potent reminder of why I left the corporate world in the first place. Okay so that wasn’t quite a rant either, but I think the message here is simple: be careful what your worship – people matter, a job is just a job, don’t get confused about that.
Now having the summer off did give me plenty of time to enjoy a personal bout with COVID, without the distractions of having to work. Let me tell you, in case this is still confusing to you, being vaccinated apparently has absolutely no bearing or impact on whether you will get the virus – vaxed and double boosted and tested positive. Now I’m not saying you shouldn’t get the jab; I’m just saying I still got plenty sick. According to the “experts” though I got less sick than as sick as I could have been if I had been really sick… umm ok how the hell does that even work? Of course, I was immediately prescribed the Paxlovid pill – just so you know this pretty much gives you the same symptoms as the virus only less? Hmmm, once again less severe than as severe as they could have been if they had been really severe? You see where this is going right, I came through it though, but definitely don’t want to do it again. Final note on this, I don’t know if this long COVID thing is real or if I am just feeling my age these days, but I am a new kind of tired at the end of the day – I’m blaming the virus, why not… or maybe it’s because I am working again? Whatever the case if you’re sick (any kind of sick) stay the hell away from me.
Now this supply chain issue is also not new this year, pretty sure I bitched about it last year too, but damn crazy the stuff that you just can’t get ahold of these days. Half the time I can’t get Half & Half and that half the time I’m forced to head up to Starbucks. You all know how that winds me up, cause that damn Prius and the double half oat milk / soy latte with no foam is always ahead of me; never mind that half the time they’re out of half the ingredients as well. When you can get groceries, they seem to cost twice as much and shortages have forced me to get inventive with a recipe every now and again – still these are first world problems. It’s interesting though shortages extend beyond our grocery store shelves, I stopped by the local Ford dealer the other day, (looking not buying) still no new F150s to be found – turns out Ford is having supply chain issues getting their blue ovals… seriously the oval badge! Seems ridiculous… I don’t know the answer, but I’m guessing this isn’t a quick fix; I’m not buying a cow for my coffee, but maybe I should grow some of my own vegetables and do some canning… maybe a chicken?
There’s plenty of other things to rant about, why can’t businesses find folks to work? Where the hell did everyone go? Half the places I go – especially restaurants – are having trouble staying open because folks just don’t show up for work – seems crazy to me and they are having the same supply chain issues everyone else is. I drove through a Hardee’s the other morning (biscuit craving – shut-up!) the staff was walking out – biscuit maker decided not to show up – is that even legal south of the Mason-Dixon line? Biscuits aside, rollercoaster gas prices also make me crazy, especially because I have a hard time believing our old friend Vlad has anything to do with it. More importantly any little drop totally creates ridiculous lines at the gas station (worse than Sbux, but not a Prius in sight) they have us on a string – and you all know how I feel about lines. I promised myself I wasn’t going to talk about politics this year, but the cynicism and hypocrisy of these people is infuriating, yet we continue to support what has become an intractable stalemate – “it is what it is,” isn’t enough any longer, don’t we have to figure this out at some point?
When I started this journey the rant was all about crafting a cynical and overtly sarcastic response to those sappy end of year letters we used to get when our kids were small and Tammy and I were struggling to figure out what we could afford for Christmas. Mixed in with the flurry of bills would come half a dozen delightful letters extolling the virtues of other families’ Nobel Prize winning children and all the excellent adventures they experienced over the course of the year. Tammy and I were excited when we could afford Happy Meals for the boys, and keeping the lights on was adventure enough… what the hell I thought. Actually, it was probably closer to… “F’ you guys!” We certainly weren’t having the same experience raising our kids; thus, was born the rant. I haven’t received one of those letters in a long time and my own kids have grown past the point of me extolling their blunders and achievements, but l look back on those days and know that as difficult as it was; the six of us were always in it together – we made it through. Now we have another generation coming up, four of the most wonderful high achieving and one might even say exceptional grandkids to ever exist. Just kidding, they are a handful and that’s as it should be – the best part for me… PaPa doesn’t have to wear any armor with these little ones, I can just be PaPa.