Monday, April 28, 2014

Something I should have learned years ago, no question.

So, I ran across this on one of the blogs I enjoy reading and wanted to repost it.  It is a funny lesson written on the blog, Knuckledraggin My Life Away by Wirecutter.  I have linked the blog at the bottom but will warn folks it is an adult blog and not necessary child friendly.  Good humor, good postings and sometimes some great information. 

Anyhow, here is a lesson that I should have learned early in life and didn't.  Of course, I did learn it the hard way so in the end, I got it.  In more ways than one. 

I was about 8 or 9 I think when Pops asks me one evening “You know how to play the ‘Trust Game’?”

 “Yeah, me and my friends have played it. You mean the one where you stiffen up and fall backwards trusting the guy behind you to break your fall, right?”

“Yeah yeah, that’s the one. Let’s play – I’ll catch you ’cause I weigh about 4 times your scrawny ass.” He got up and walked over to the middle of the living room with hardly a stagger to his gait so I figured sure, why the hell not.

I get in front of him and he says “Anytime you’re ready, son. I’m right here” so I stiffen up, start to tip backwards and watched that sonofa***** (my edit) step to the side out of the corner of my eye. I hit the ground and was understandably pissed off and he says “Learn a lesson here, Boy?”

“Yessir” I said rubbing the back of my head, “Don’t trust your father?”

“No, but you’re close. The lesson was that the one you least expect it from is the one that’s gonna mess ya over (my edit). Think you can remember that?”

“After this? Uh, yeah.” Hey, I wasn’t real stupid.

 Pops just grinned and finished his beer.


Sunday, April 20, 2014

Thinking I handled this bad but "you can't fix stupid"

Last night I had to pick up a couple of things at the Dollar Store and Knoah asked if he could ride along for the trip.  We made pretty quick work picking up the items we needed and rushed up front to get in the check out line and leave.  That was when "it" happened. 

Every parent of a child with a disability knows what "it" is.  That moment that some numbskull decides that they need to point out how your child is different.  Most of the time it is a simple look or gesture without words but occasionally it is words.  Ignorant words.  Last night was one of those ignorant moments and sadly it caught me in a not so forgiving mood. 

Actually it was pretty simple how it all happened.  Knoah and I were standing in line as Knoah was telling me how he could survive in the Dollar Store if he were trapped during a Zombie Apocalypse and I told him that eating everything in the candy isle probably wasn't the best strategy.  As we talked the family in line behind us, two boys and their mother, began to "notice" Knoah.  Obviously, I want to say what they notice was the extremely cute little boy wearing a suit jacket and dressed up after Easter Dinner and that could have been what they notice.  But, it wasn't.

The younger of the little boys exclaimed loudly to me that, "wow, your baby talks good".  I tried to ignore how the words reminded me of Ned Beatty hearing "you gotta pretty mouth" in the movie Deliverance so I looked at him for a moment and then looked at his Mom, hoping she would intervene before I said anything.  When it was clear this wouldn't happen I simply said in a rather stern manner, "excuse me" thinking he would retract his goofy utterance but . . again, I was disappointed.      

I asked the young kid how old he was and when he told me he was seven I let him know that Knoah was also seven years old and that he was a little person meaning that he is not as tall as other children but that he is just as smart as others and that he also has the same thoughts and feelings that others have if he is called a name.  Again I hoped that this would quell the situation but alas that was not to be.  Instead of asking something reasonable about what a little person might be the young kid then said, "no way, he ain't my age" quickly followed by, "I go to the first grade".  I could feel my chest tighten and dreamed that his Mother would say something, anything that could end this but . . . disappointment was all I received.  I then thought to myself, just let it go as Ron White likes to say, "you can't fix stupid" instead of following that plan I was confronted with the older brother feeling the need to chime in with "I'm nine and in the second grade, he (meaning Knoah) ain't seven".  That was it.   I was done.  I had enough. 

Bending down to look at these sadly confused and misguided gaggle of siblings I said, "well, my son Knoah is seven and as I said he is a little person who is very intelligent, thoughtful and caring".  Knoah, as I explained to them was in the second grade and was doing very well.  Knoah, hearing me say this, began to recite his times tables up to four.  The younger boy then asked Knoah if he could answer what 100 times 100 was.  Yes, of course Knoah can and did answer quickly.  The intrusive little siblings were amazed by this and began loudly telling their Mother how Knoah looked like a "baby" but he was seven and knew his times tables and could add "big numbers" (there words, not mine).  Mom was apparently now aware of her children, looked at Knoah and opined, "nu-uh".  Done again, I was. 

I looked at Mom and informed her of that Knoah was a little person (because it seemed the first two times didn't take) and that he was seven and bye-golly he knew his times tables and could add numbers in the hundreds without the aid of his fingers or toes.  I wanted to punctuate it with my favorite Frank Zappa lyrics ("Great Googly-Moogily") but figured that was too much.  I then looked at the young boys and the Mother and told them that, "you know, you guys should be helping each other in school because if you're nine and in the second grade and Knoah is seven it seems you could be a little bit behind".  I told them that focusing on those things might just benefit them more than being amazed by the differences in Knoah's body size considering he was apparently more academically advanced. 

We checked out, left and went home.  I was still pissed about it when we got home and I talked with Hannah and Laura about it.  Laura chastised me for highlighting the fact that the older brother seemed to have failed a grade and how in doing so it made me just as wrong as they were.  She is right of course and I felt bad for being "that guy".  No excuses.  I didn't handle it well.  My fault. 

In the end, I guess that I must learn to not let things bother me as much as I do but at the same time I know that I want to "protect" Knoah and all of my children from ignorant people.  I did try to be the "good advocate" at first but in the end I fell short.  I need to learn that Ron White is correct, "you just can't fix stupid". 

Thankfully, I have amazing children who will support their amazing, intelligent, happy and beautiful brother in the years to come and may be next time I can be more reserved but I won't make any promises about that; not now, not ever.   

Knoah playing at Carpenter Farms Halloween 2013

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

2014 Mid-Term Elections will focus on what?

I love politics and enjoy discussing anything and everything about current events.  Because of that, I read, conservatively, about thirty blogs and news websites each day.  So I wonder as the elections approach, just what will the defining issue be that draws voters for the 2014 Mid-Term elections?  There are, IMO, some very serious issues in front of America that deserve consideration.  But what the "key" issue will be seems elusive.  Could it be the "roll-out" of the ACA? How about the Contempt of Congress Order issued to AG Eric Holder?  Maybe the Crisis in Ukraine?  Could it be the recent "correction" in the S&P?  Is it plausible that it will be the draw-down in Afghanistan?  How about the changing role of the US in the Middle-East?  Maybe it will be the forward movement of gay marriage (I live in Michigan and the law here is currently under appeal)?  Possibly the continued decriminalization of marijuana in twenty-one states?  Should the continuing move towards the Trans Pacific Partnership trade agreement be a defining issue?  Would the Snowden disclosures be on the table as a concern?  How about the continued stagnation of the labor participation rate?  What about the continued questions over the IRS investigations into non-profit applications, will that matter?  Is the America public up in arms enough about the debt to make that a central issue?  Do Americans have any concern about the growth of Al Qaeda?  Any one of them are issues worth discussing and making a campaign issue about in my opinion.  But it seems there is another, more pressing, serious issue that must be addressed by our political class. 

Racism seems to be the cause celeb among many in our ruling class and it seems the message to discuss this ill has been received by those responsible for framing the election and they are out and about speaking loud and proud to ensure we actually "know" the real trouble in America.  Well maybe they view it as the real problem with anyone that disagrees with them anyhow. 

Former Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-NY) when talking immigration reform gave the reason no such reform has been forthcoming said; “I think race has something to do with the fact that they’re not bringing up an immigration bill. I’ve heard them say to the Irish if it were just you this would be easy.”  Of course, the trouble is that when her office was asked about it they admitted that the esteemed Congresswoman had misspoken and did not actually hear such things from an actual Republican or anyone running for office but rather it was, "information from unnamed Irish immigration activists".  I kind of chuckle when I hear Rep. Pelosi's staff admit that her remarks came from not an actual elected Republican or even a Republican at all particularly when you notice that her remarks were that "she" had "heard them" say these things.  Sadly, it seems that Rep. Pelosi should be reminded of then Sen. Obama's famous speech on race relations that he lifted from Gov. Duval Patrick and that somehow "words matter" (the speech is "just words" and I have linked it text below; great speech).   But the bell had already been rung, people impugned and of course no real apology was offered.

Not to be outdone by his colleague, Representative Steve Israel (D-NY), stated, “to a significant extent, the Republican base does have elements that are animated by racism. And that’s unfortunate." when asked why the House Republicans had not passed comprehensive immigration reform.  Not only did Rep. Israel call Republicans racist like his college Rep. Pelosi, he actually went one step further and said essentially that those who support Republicans are racist.  Just like Rep. Pelosi before him the good Rep. Israel also offered no support for his claim nor did he cite a single example.  Nice guy he is, I guess. 

Of course this opine isn't just for elected folks fighting to maintain the perks of power they have at stake in November.  Attorney General Eric Holder speaking before a conference hosted by Rev. Al Sharpton stated, “Forget about me [specifically]. Look at the way the attorney general of the United States was treated yesterday by a House committee,” Holder told the crowd. “What attorney general has ever had to deal with that kind of treatment? What president has ever had to deal with that kind of treatment?”  I guess the AG does not recall the treatment of AG Alberto Gonzales.  Maybe he has forgotten the treatment of AG Edwin Meese or even AG Janet Reno who, like AG Holder, has the distinction of also being held in contempt of Congress.  But, alas, it must be racism that is driving people, right.

President Obama, speaking at the same conference AG Holder had addressed the day prior, found himself unable or unwilling to stay out of the murky waters of accusations and while he was smart enough not to outright accuse those who disagree with him as racist he clearly was fine with saying anyone wanting voter ID laws wanted to, "disenfranchise some voters".  As is the case Pres. Obama accuses others of wishing to "disenfranchise" voters but forgets that it was his own campaign and party that was accused by fellow Democrats of engaging in such behavior in 2008.  Heck, they even made a movie out of it!  But that is an inconvenient truth and one the President does not mention.  Ever.

Pres. Obama went on to say "The right to vote is threatened today in a way that it has not been since the Voting Rights Act became law nearly five decades ago, it is wrong to make anyone wait six to seven hours to vote." Of course the President didn't address the actual voter fraud recently reported in North Carolina or the voter fraud that placed him on the primary ballot in the State of Indiana (and has subsequently led to prison term for two former election board members) but rather discussed some hypothetical bigotry that demands people wait hours to vote.  Well, maybe someone close to Pres. Obama should inform him that most polling places are staffed with volunteers and that if the community needs more volunteers they can organize and bring them in.  He was a "community organizer" and should know this but it is easier to infer your opponent is a bigot and therefore deserves nothing but rejection.

Regarding Pres. Obama and his remarks as I said in an earlier post nothing really surprises me from him any longer.  I do remain surprised that neither the media or another politician will call him out on his behavior or division, misdirection and outright lies.  It saddens me to think this is the same man that in 2008 gave such an eloquent speech on race when the words of his Pastor Jeremiah Wright gained public interest.  Still to be fair, I see Pres. Obama as nothing more than a Confidence Man who has been able to hoodwink, bamboozle, lead astray the average voter.  There is, IMO, a great deal of not only truth in this assessment but in the reality that when someone disagrees with the President they are immediately painted as somehow bigoted, racist and so on.  It is an indefensible position for the accused and one that gives the accuser immediate power and self-righteousness.  Just think, Rep. Pelosi, AG Holder, Rep. Israel and Pres. Obama all in one week accused others of being motivated strictly by hate and even when Rep. Pelosi had to admit that she was wrong the media did not ask for or demand an apology or retraction.  Such accusations become "truth" within society even when no evidence is offered to support it.  Sad. 

Words, accusations, smears, phrases have a way of taking on a life of "truth" in society even when they are wrong.  People believe it because that is what is supposedly "known" to be the truth.  Sometimes it is important things and other times not so important but in the end it is still accepted even if is it wrong.  Consider one of the most well known movie lines of the last fifty years, "go ahead, make my day, punk" from the Clint Eastwood film, "Sudden Impact" featuring his famous character Harry Callahan ("Dirty Harry").  Everyone knows that line.  We have heard others say it.  We have seen it on t-shirts.  The only problem is that what we know to be the line is wrong.  What was really said was, "go ahead, make my day".  Dirty Harry did not punctuate the line with "punk" in the script or in the film but everyone accepts the myth as the actual line.  It can only be seen with great sadness that such miss-interpretations have grown into our political speech and have become the acceptable norm.

Sadly even Pres. Clinton got in on the action and stated that voter ID laws were not just wrong but in his mind they would be a "step back" for not just America but for minorities in America.

It was Pres. Clinton's comments that most bothered me.  I have always seen Pres. Clinton as moderate and actually admired his "new Democrat" style and positions.  So while I was able to just dismiss Rep. Pelosi, Rep. Israel, AG Holder and Pres. Obama as doing nothing more than regurgitating the same silliness I have grown used to, with Pres. Clinton I was bothered and forced to think about how we have misled, misunderstood and diluted history. 

To be fair, it always strikes me as funny when a Democrat, any Democrat, tells the voters that something will be a "step back" regarding the voting rights act.

History is a fickle mistress and the Democrat Party is much like Andrew Marvell and his poem, "to my coy mistress", warning that somehow if we don't agree with them the ravages of the grave will extract it from us. In Marvell's instance it was her virginity and in the Democrats version it is our sense of righteousness.

Yet, history shows the truth when it is viewed without the reckless emotional arguments given today. In truth, stepping back and looking at the Voting Rights Act we find that a lower number of Democrats supported it in the House or Senate and without the Republicans the act would never have passed. Looking back at history we find that the longest filibuster in the US Senate occurred because of this amendment and that were it not for the support of moderate Democrats and Republicans the filibuster led by Sen. Eastland (D-MS) could have kept the bill from a vote. In truth, not even Pres. Clintons friend and VP Al Gores father Al Gore Sr., voted in favor of it.

Historical perspective is important and necessary when a former President tells us something, anything, is a "step back". Yet it is fascinating that Pres. Clinton forgets or ignores honest, factual history in America regarding the treatment of minorities.

Slavery ended in 1865 with the 13th Amendment (passed 31 Jan, ratified 6 Dec 1865) thanks to Pres. Lincoln (R-IL) and the 38th Congress (Sen. Pres. Hamlin (R-ME), Speaker of the House Colfax (R-IN)) and the 39th Congress (Sen. Pres. Pro Tem Foster (R-CT) and Wade (R-OH)). The vote for the 13th Amendment in the Congress was clear; 100% of Republicans Supported it and 0% of Democrats supported it.

The 14th Amendment gave freedom to those who were once slaves passed in July 1868 once again the vote was clear; 98% of Republicans voted in favor of it and 0% of Democrats.

Of course the opine is that "those" are not today's Republicans and that is true. Those folks did not have iPhones, cars, cable TV, the internet and tons of other wonderful amenities. However, those folks reflected the words of Dr. King when he said we ought to judge others by the content of their character and not the color of their skin, 100 years prior to Dr. King speaking them on the steps of the Lincoln Monument.

At the time Dr. King gave his eloquent remarks Pres. Johnson (D-TX) was working hard to pass the 15th Amendment (voting rights act) and once again it was the Republican Party who voted 100% to pass the voting rights act and again Democrats did not support this amendment in droves (none in the House or Senate) and as pointed out earlier, Sen. Eastland (D-MS) worked hard to filibuster as long as he could to prevent or delay passage.

So, what is it that would be a "step back" and how can a speaker, any speaker, from the party that worked to deny this legislation advise anyone with such moral authority that they (Democrats) are on the right side of history when the actual history of the party is contrary?

Is asking someone to present an ID to rent a car, check out a library book, board an airplane, engage in commerce at a pawn shop, use a credit card, cash a check, file for Social Security, receive SNAP or other assistance, purchase cigarettes or alcohol, collect lottery or casino winnings, enter many government buildings, open a bank account, purchase a weapon, get a tattoo or piercing, donate blood, enter a military base, drive on public roads ALL a step back with regards to civil rights? Our government affirms that asking for a an ID in any of those instances is perfectly acceptable yet somehow Democrats believe that asking for an ID to engage in the most sacred and important act of civil engagement is a "step back". Really. Fascinating, isn't it, once history is examined and one finds it was the Democrat Party who did not support the 13th, 14th or 15th Amendment.

Just like Andrew Marvell, Democrats attempt to reinvent the meaning of words and circumstances to goad the "coy mistress" into giving up something. Marvell wanted nothing more than sex and Democrats want nothing more than the citizens ignorance and vote.

Understand, I believe that Republicans are just as flawed as Democrats which leaves only one conclusion; both parties have used the citizens to ensure not the best interest of the citizens but the best interest of the party and those elected, staying in office, I imagine, has it's perks. However, in this instance Republicans have the historical voting record on their side and Democrats have illusions and made up history, reinvention which requires the voter to ignore the truth and of course wonderful hierocracy.  How else can a party be viewed when in 2010 it was reported that then Senator Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) when speaking about Sen. Obama in 2007 said of him; "Obama, as a black candidate, could be successful thanks, in part, to his "light-" appearance and speaking patterns "with no Negro dialect, unless he wanted to have one."  Sure, Sen. Reid "apologized" and said he misspoke but isn't it odd that his remarks where in 2007 but not a peep was reported about them until 2010 when the book "Game Change" was published.   Still, Senator Reid is not alone as it was Rev. Jesse Jackson who said that Sen. Obama was, "talking down to black people" and "I want to cut his nuts off" all after calling him a "n****r" on an open mic.  Nice guy that Rev. Jackson must be.  Yet even those things did not offend Democrats all that much and in both cases they offered "apologies" and moved on as if it never occurred doing nothing but supporting that illusion that somehow they are race, gender, sexual orientation and so on, neutral.  Illusion, that is all it is.

Sadly this, IMO, holier than thou, attitude regarding accusations or bigotry and racism has proliferated nearly every Democrat argument.  Look at comments by self professed Democrat posters on any news site and within a few comments they follow the same formula as Godwin's Law and instead of saying, "Nazi" or "Hitler" the retort is "racist, bigot, sexist, homophobic . . . yada, yada, yada".  Of course, sometimes they also include, "Nazi and Hitler" for good measure.  Anyone who questions if this is reality can look no further than IL State Rep Linda Chapa LaVia who gave a firey speech condemning any support for charter schools as bigoted and racist.  Ms. LaVia then went on to say that anyone who was a minority and not supporting her position was "on the wrong side of the isle".  Of course, Rep LaVia forgot that there were minority Republicans and one in-particular State Rep. John Anthony, a black Republican took exception.  But, the "dog whistle" was blown and her remarks stood and not a single soul from the self righteous illusionary Democratic Leadership called her out.  So, just who has benefited from this illusion?

But it seems clarity of leadership is lacking in politics today and maybe even in the greater community at large.  Consider the case of Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC).  Senator Scott is the ONLY black American in the United States Senate at this time and yet the President of the State NAACP Rev. William Barber II called Sen. Scott a, "ventriloquist dummy" and asserted that Sen. Scott was nothing more than a "token".  Nice to see a "Reverend" with such moral clarity and intellectual weight isn't it?  Of course his remarks were dismissed (again) by the Democratic Leadership and the illusion was continued.  Still, who has benefited from this illusion?  Honest question.

I believe that uncomfortable and difficult questions should be asked before we simply accept that something is a step back or that someone is racist.  Questions like: Is the black community better off today then they were in 1964? Is there less crime, more work opportunity, higher educational standards, more intact families, more cohesive communities today than when Democrats largely voted against the 13th, 14th and 15th amendment then "reinvented" themselves as the saviors of civil rights? Yet, somehow we are told they have the answer. What is it that some call insanity, "doing the same thing over and over while expecting a different result".

I don't believe that America is perfect however I do believe that America is more and more diverse and accepting of a country than we are given credit for.  Today's 113th Congress has more ethnic minorities, women, and a more diverse population of religious beliefs (the first Hindu) and openly gay men / women serving than ever.  Pres. Obama has been elected by the citizens of the United States twice and yet the conversation is that somehow people must be told that "race" is the major issue in America.  Honestly, how is that possible.  In what other westernized country has more woman and minorities served?  None.  In what other westernized country has a minority been elected President?  None.  Still we are hammered day after day that the problem with America is that racial animosity and bigotry is the problem.  It strains honest credibility, IMO. 

Racism, bigotry, hate and division all exist in America, no question.  Such thoughts and feelings are wrong and thankfully those who espouse such positions are marginalized and more than often dismissed.  Sadly however for far too many they see any political, social or policy disagreement with a women or minority by a non-minority must be based on racism or bigotry.  It is a silly position, IMO. 

Samuel Johnson reportedly said "patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel" on April 7, 1775.  It has become commonly accepted that Mr. Johnson was not referring to honestly patriotic people but to the false patriotism of a scoundrel who had only the interest of themselves in mind.  I see far to many false "patriots" using the last refuge of "bigotry" as a means to not just quell debate but to demonize others opinions.  (On a side note, my favorite Bob Dylan song ("Sweetheart Like You") echoed this famous sentiment. In an ironic twist on the idea of "patriotism being the last refuge of a scoundrel" Chrysler hired Bob Dylan for a Superbowl Commercial 2014 and in that commercial Bob Dylan said; "You can't import America".  Of course, both Chrysler and Bob Dylan left out that Chrysler is a former American company now owned 100% by the Italian Company, Fiat.  Just like the accusations of bigotry offered above we are suppose to simply ignore the facts before us in favor or the good feelings we will get by doing the so called "right thing".  In Chrysler's instance the right thing is purchasing an "American" car and in the instance of the accusations of bigotry we get to feel good that we are standing up to "hate".  Of course in both cases it is an illusion.). 

I pray for a day when Americans do end racial bigotry and hope that someday we actually live up to the promise of judging individuals by the character they have and not the color of the skin they wear. I simply will not be the "coy mistress" of the Democrat Party and ignore the historical shortcomings they have. Of course, I am not a well compensated civil rights leader that may stand to lose income, prestige and opportunity if I stand up and say, "No, Pres. Clinton (and all Democrats), I am not going to climb into your fictitious civil rights bed that is built on lies and deceptions". I just regret more people are unable to see the forest because of all the trees.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Four Quarters: Fun, Crazy (no, really), Beautiful and Absolutly Amazing.

I don't think my life has been more difficult than others but sometimes I think of all the changes, difficulties and challenges that I have faced and think . . . . damn, really.  Some of the changes were due to circumstances that were so beyond my control of influence that the best I could do was to roll with the punches and survive, "Luctor et Emergo".  Other times those changes were because of my stupid decision making and desire to "fix" or "heal" things.  Either way the challenges have caused emotional, physical and financial pain and so you have to say, "damn, really".

One thing I have never been good at is asking or accepting help from others.  I guess this has been a huge part of who I am, always and I can't deny it but I do have to change it.  I have always wanted to "help" others and over the years have done as much as I could both in my work life as a social worker and in my personal life.  I have always believed that doing for is better than being done for.  The problem - as most people already know - is that when you live like this you are "done for" tough times and that leads to the horrible cycle of face palm and . . . "damn, really". 

I know it sounds cliché but I have always placed others ahead of my own desires.  Sometimes that has allowed for people and situations to take advantage of my niceness, if you will.  It has also met that I have extended myself in ways that have caused me to lose opportunities in both time away from my family and in my professional life.  But . . . . c'st la vie, right.  The good news is that even at my age you are never too old to learn and I have been given a gift that has shown me not only the faults of myself but also the path the being a better person. 

So what was the great epiphany?  It should have been the revelations in April 2001.  It should have been the "neighbor" issue when I lived in Toledo.  It should have been the problems that resulted from the April 2001 revelations.  It should have been losing the position at the Center in 2008.  It should have been the outcome of my actions in March 2010.  It should have been . . . . . so many stupid, harmful events but in the end it wasn't any of those things.  It was, in the end . . . . Laura Leigh Henricks.  It developed slowly and was really four quarters of epiphany. 

Before we started "dating", Laura and I were co-workers who quickly became friends because of our own shared silly nature.  We taunted, teased and generally enjoyed being playful and goofy with one another.  Early on, I knew that I liked Laura and found her not just appealing as a woman but I also found her extremely sexy.  Laura and I soon began "flirting" with one another but at first I was extremely hesitant.  I did not think that Laura wanted or needed to be with someone so much older than her and someone who had three children.  But. . . . the heart wants what the heart wants and I found myself thinking more and more about Laura. 

Our first "date" (just the two of us) really was as "friends".  We had talked about how much both loved Cedar Point and how fun it would be to go.  Flippantly I told her that we should go and enjoy a stress free day from work.  Honestly, I didn't think that she would agree but . . .  . she did and so we went.  It was an amazing day and we had so much fun together.  In some respects, I am actually a very shy person and so many times that day I wanted to tell her how much I was attracted to her but I didn't.  It is crazy to think about how much fun we had that day and how silly it is in retrospect that neither one of us said anything to the other! 

It was a great time . . . . we were talking, joking, taunting and teasing each other about anything and everything; work, art, music, movies.  Laura and I had started to grow close as friends.  It was fun to be around her and that was a quarter of her appeal to me.  I was really happy about that but at the same time I was nervous and sad.  I wanted Laura.  I wanted to date her.  I wanted to . . . . well, you can imagine.  But I kept from telling her how I felt because we were having so much fun as friends that I didn't want to lose that.  I also really felt that with our age difference it would be so silly for me to tell her.  All I could think is how horrible it would be to lose her friendship.  Still the first quarter, we genuinely had fun together, was present and it was impossible to deny. 

Between the beginning of our "flirtatious" relationship and the day we ended up together I dated others and Laura also dated.  Laura had told me at work about a date she had that coming weekend and as we were trading text messages often I think I told her to have fun and enjoy herself.  After Laura had went out with one night she and I traded text messages and I asked her how it went.  I know sounds horrible but I was "happy" when she told me not good.  I had not told Laura yet that I wanted to be more than friends and wasn't sure if I could ever tell her. 

Cedar Point HalloWeekends 2012

Part of our relationship building was through our mutual friends.  While I knew that I enjoyed being around and with Laura, I honestly did not want to push for a relationship because of our age difference and because I really did not want to lose the relationship if she was not interested.  I talked tons with mutual friends (Ryan and Al) about my feelings for Laura and they both told me I should just tell her.  Laura on the other hand was talking to another mutual friend (Michelle) who was telling her that she needed to wait and let me make the first move because I had recently gone through a divorce.  On one hand our collective inaction kept us apart for many months but on the other it helped build anticipation and excitement. 

Another quarter of my epiphany or appeal in Laura is that she was and is pretty crazy.  By that I mean spontaneous, silly, playful and just generally fun.  During that time she decided to do a Facebook page for "Crockey Dile", a happy little rubber crocodile!  Crockey became a big thing to have fun with not only at work but outside of work.  Actually, Crockey went every time to Cedar Point with us not to mention Columbus, the Toledo Zoo and elsewhere!  Laura was fun then and now, which is so very appealing for someone like me who is still way too adolescent even at my age.  Thankfully Laura is willing to let me be goofy, silly and at times way too juvenile. 

Me and Crockey at Cedar Point (he is in the middle of Stevie Ray Vaughn's tombstone).

Very early on I found myself more than a little physically attracted to Laura.  Laura was insistent that she wear "professional attire" at work which was . . . GREAT for me ;-).  Laura was . . . . I won't get much more into it but I will say that without question Laura is curvaceous, voluptuous, sexy, playful and who would not find that alluring.  Her smoky eyes, mischievous smile, beautiful complexion and confident, sexy manner was overwhelming when we first started "flirting" and now . . . . four years later it is still amazingly overwhelming!  Funny how the first two quarters of attractiveness to Laura had nothing to do with appearance . . .  but don't think for a second that means it isn't important - of course it is and the fact that she is a beautiful, vivacious woman was without a doubt a huge plus for me and the third quarter of my epiphany. 

Just considering everything around how our relationship developed and how it began to mature is pretty cool.  Neither Laura or I were "new" to the idea of falling in love and I think that we actually approached our relationship from a "OK, we'll see" manner.  Early on Laura gave me a book to read and do an assessment on our "relationship needs".  As Laura has a psychology degree these things are important to her and I thought, why not.  After doing the assessment we found that we matched in nearly category and that both of us had strong desires for affection (holding hands, hugging, snuggling) and that we both were very focused on giving to the person we were with. 

To be honest, I think that I am still in the final quarter of my epiphany and have been for nearly four years!  I am amazed at how considerate, thoughtful, affectionate and loving Laura is.  Like everyone else on this earth neither of us are perfect but every night when I lay my head down and reach out to hold Laura, I know.  Every morning when I wake up and feel her next to me, I know.  Each day when either she or I leave one another for work or whatever and then return to one another, I know.  I know that . . . . .

Laura and I while she was carrying Ian in the summer of 2013.  (Photo Credit to Laura Soto).