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I posted on a MamaKats Writer’s Workshop about my best friend and about how his mother, in a way, saved my life. The way I meant it was that my life could have gone in a very different direction than it did and I could have been one of those kids who hung out at the handball courts after, and even during, school with crazy long hair and smoking medicinal cigarettes <wink>. Nowadays, it may not mean the same thing but back in my day, the kids on the handball courts were the burnouts and smoked both legal (age restrictions to purchase cigarettes did not exist when I was in High School) and illegal substances.

Mom Miller kept me in line from that. I honestly do not think that was her plan, but it worked anyway. I think her plan was that I was her son’s best friend and the only one of his friends she liked and never banned from going over there… ever.

Anyway, she treated me loosely like one of her own. If you have been reading my posts, you know that my mother passed away almost 8 years ago from cancer. It took me a while to deal with everything and blogging helped a lot with that. No one read those posts, except for my one close friend from downstate. My thought was that if I am going through something like this, someone else is probably going through the same and if I help even one person then I would be glad I helped.

Well, about a week and a half ago Mom Miller passed away from Cancer. Oh Cancer, how I hate thee! I received the text from Mark at 6:32am. I had no idea he was even going down to Florida to see her. If I had I think I would have done what I could to get down there. Not only to say goodbye, but to also be there for the best friend any guy could ever hope for.

I think I feel a little worse than normal because she was up in mid-May. I had pneumonia, but Mark put together a little BBQ for mother’s day, even though it wasn’t mothers day. When he told me I told Erica that I wanted us to go. We went but she was not feeling well enough to go. I wanted to go see her, but they said she was leaving on Thursday but she actually left on Wednesday morning… the day I was going to see her. So I didn’t see her.

Now she is gone. She was tough. She was VERY tough on Mark but I think it was because her and he was very similar and neither wanted to admit it. They had a funeral service in Florida but it sounds like they are having a service and burial service here in New York. She lived here in NY for most of her life. Her two sons and daughter-in-laws are here. Mark’s older brother is in FL, but her sisters and mainly the entire family is here on Long Island.

I feel bad I didn’t go more out of my way to see her when she was here over a month ago. I will definitely be there for the funeral showings and be there for Mark in any way I can. I called him but he didn’t know what was going on at the time and said he would call me later. That was a few days ago. It’s going to be a difficult for Mark and his family, but this process is difficult for anyone.

What did you do to help with loss of a close loved one?

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I have never really pretended to be someone else. I am happy with who I am and now I am absolutely fine with the way I was brought up but definitely will not make some of the mistakes my parents made.

With that out of the way, I did pretend to be someone else… once!

It was 2001 and I was living in downstate New York. I was meeting up with all my new friends for our “anniversary night”. The reason for this was that we had all met online through an online Yahoo! Group and we became good friends pretty quickly. We still are to this day even though I moved back to Long Island.

On the first year of the group we all decided to go out to dinner and then a club. It was all fine until this girl I was really interested in and had dated for around a month showed up… with her new boyfriend (now husband) who we all know to be a jerk. Even to this day he is a jerk.

Well, not sure why it bothered me so much as I had thought I had dealt with the situation and was ok with her and I only being friends. But that night it bothered me more. I think it had to do that I felt I was a good guy and this guy, who is a big loser in EVERY aspect of the word was the one she chose to be with over me.

Anyway, put me in an uncomfortable situation where I can’t excuse myself and leave, add alcohol and there is going to be stupid hijinx on my part. Yes I actually used the word hijinx.

Well, I drank WAY too much. I was not driving as my friends had rented a room out in the hotel nearby so I knew if I did have too much to drink I would just crash there. Well, that night the more I drank the more of an Irish brogue came out. Now this was funny to my friends because, although I am over 75% irish, I was born and raised on Long Island to a father who was born and raised in the Bronx and then later on Long Island and a mother who was born and raised in New Jersey.

Anyway, the more I talked the more my friends would ask me silly questions. At one point one of them asked me who I was and my answer was “Patty… Patty O’ Furniture”. I think I used that name from a comedy sketch with Robin Williams.

Basically I do not remember much of the evening, but I do remember 2 ladies walked in to the club we were at and I tried to pick one of them up. Somehow my aim missed and the one I was trying to pick up was not the one who I have to say I gave my number to as she called me the next day. I do not remember giving my number but it was what it was. I was 30 and single so no harm no foul.

It was a shock to her the next day when I answered the phone like my normal American dialect. I do think she wasn’t too surprised mainly because I was VERY surprised to find out that she didn’t even speak English. Apparently she was from Peru and only spoke Spanish. I do not speak Spanish so I have no idea how we conversed but I did figure if she was courageous enough to call me to go out I could at least take her out and ensure a dinner with a woman, whom I did not remember her name nor what she looked like, who also only spoke a few words of English.

It wasn’t as bad as I expected but beer goggles is a real phenomenon because when we met up, I was not attracted to her in any way. After the date she called me 10 or more times a day until I finally told her it was not going to work out. Not sure if she understood but I also never heard from her again.

After that night, although my friends ask me about “Patty O’Furniture” I have also never pretended to be someone I wasn’t. I also have never drank as much as I did that night so I think there is a direct relationship between amount of alcohol consumed and my bad mood because ex dropped me for a loser, dead beat dad and my level of stupidity.

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I have friends who became parents at a young age as well as friends who are older than I am and still do not have kids. You can see the difference between the two… but only if you are a parent. If you are not a parent, you probably won’t see it.

My wife and I married when I was 1 day into being 39 years old. For me I felt I was older to get married as my best friend was 22 when he was married. I moved off Long Island when I was 29 and the people I dated were usually close to my age. I stayed off Long Island until I was 35 and the last 2 years, from 33-35, the women I dated usually had kids. I thought because I was dating someone who had kids and I was around them 2 maybe 3 times a week, that I could consider myself a father-type figure and I knew a few things about kids and being a “parent”

I was SOOO wrong!

I had no idea what I was doing and looking back now, I know I was just a kid myself in the parenting aspect.

I always felt to truly be a parent you really needed to start from their birth and go through ALL of it. This is not always true… but it was true for me.

Quite a bit has changed for me since we had out little boopah. It’s these changes which make me feel like a parent as before, I didn’t feel like one. I felt that I was in a relationship where I was expected to be a “father” figure but without any of the real responsibilities. It was more reading when the single mother I was dating wanted me to be a father figure and all other times I needed to keep quiet.

There are a few ways that are different:

As a non-parent, the kid(s) referred to me by my name which made the distinction very well known.

As a parent, I refer to myself as Dad or Daddy, since she is not old enough to talk yet. I always thought it was weird how people men would refer to themselves that way when talking to their kids. But once you become a parent… you get it. (I sometimes even refer to myself as daddy even when I am not around my daughter and then correct myself.)

As a non-parent, if I was having an off day I could very easily go home and not deal with the girlfriend and her son/daughter.

As a parent, there aren’t any days off. You are there 24/7. If you are off from work one weekend and decide to sleep in? Great! As long as “sleep in” means 6am because that’s when boopah wakes up and decides she wants you to come play. Or if your wife feeds the baby in bed, usually around 5-6ish, and the baby decides she wants to see what happens if she squishes a sleeping Daddy’s nose. Usually you wake up and GREAT, she has someone to play with because that’s when you are tagged in so she can sleep. And you want to be annoyed but babies are built in with their own trouble radar, so the second you start becoming upset… they smile that awesome, toothless smile and you just… melt!

As a non-parent, there are things you think you will do differently when you have kids. This is usually not what is going to happen.

As a parent, you learn to savor in the small victories. For me, being able to use the bathroom at my pace is a HUGE victory as boopah usually decides that when I need to use the bathroom is not convenient for her. Or that she needs to finish the rest of her bottle RIGHT NOW! Being able to take a shower and not leave the door open and one ear listening for my baby is a HUGE luxury to us!

 

There are so many ways being a parent differs from being in a father-type role. I was thinking about this lately because Erica and I were discussing things we would and would not do regarding our boopah as she grew up which we had to from our parents. This made me think of some of the things I said or did when I was dating people with kids and I wish I had done things better. There were things I know I definitely handled perfectly with the right amount of discipline as well as not overdoing the lecture or what not. But then there were things that should not have bothered me, but did and I wish I handled it better.

In all this, however, it made me the person I am today and I think I did ok. I think I am an ok father and husband and that I accept that I am learning this all as we go. But having the best wife and mother for our baby makes it so much easier for both of us… as long as she LETS me help.

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Earlier this month my wife and I went up to Maine to visit her parents, my in-laws. To arrive at their house we have to drive from Long Island, NY, through Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Hampshire and then finally Maine. It takes usually about 8 ½ hours. In that time there is a LOT of talking going on.

Now if you know my wife, you would know that she is a VERY quiet individual. She is awesome and amazing, pretty and caring but she is EXTREMELY quiet. There are times we are laying in bed and she will say something but I will have to ask her two sometimes three times to repeat herself because she can be so quiet.

One of the reasons I LOVE road trips with her is because somewhere along the route she becomes giddy and she just starts talking and talking and she will go for hours talking about everything and anything. Work, future, kids, jobs, music, TV shows, friends, family, once we even had a discussion about poop!

Well, on our trip I remembered something which made me think about my family and remember how awesome and amazing my family is.

Growing up, my father was a really good father. He had flaws but he did his best to do right by us and teach us to be respectful to elders as well as women.

On the block I grew up on there was this one house, everyone has a house like this, the “troublemakers house”. The family always had their yard looking like a junk yard and they were mean to everyone and everything… unless they were afraid of you. They were afraid of my father so they were VERY nice and respectful to him. Thinking back now, I am not sure if it was my father per se they were afraid of or the fact that 3 of his brothers lived within 6 blocks of us. My one uncle’s house made our street a dead end and my other uncles house was in direct line with our house, one block over so I could literally see the back of his house from my front yard.

Anyway, they had this daughter who must have been 4 or 5 years older than I was. She was mean and ugly, both physically and personality wise, and no matter how nice I was to her, she was always mean especially to me. I mean I never did anything to her and I was, and still am, a really nice person.

Well, she would start an argument with me and when I argued back she would punch me or slap me and since I was brought up to not hit girls, I would not fight back. I have no idea how long this went on for before my mother found out about it. Now I was not a small kid. I was kind of a bruiser, but I was a yeller not a hitter. So no matter how much my mother and father would tell me that hitting her back would be ok, I wouldn’t do it.

SO here is where you would think my mother would have gone over and gone ape shit all over the family and get them to stop, but she didn’t. She did something sneakier and SO much better. She told my cousin Tammy about it.

Well, my cousin Tammy did not take anything from anyone. She was nice to everyone, has a great sense of humor, is pretty and very fair in all things. Well, no sooner did the words leave my mothers mouth than did she take off out of the house, run around the corner to our street and find her. She chased all the way to the end of the road, cornered her and screamed something fierce at her. Basically, she never laid a hand on her but did tell her that if she even looked at me the wrong way she would beat snot out of her.

Not only did I NEVER have a problem with her again but she went out of her way to try and be my friend.

Family is the one of the BEST things we can all have!

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This week is 2 years that my wife and I have been married. For a guy who will be 41 the day before our Anniversary, that seems very little.

Most people who are 40 have been married at least 10 years or more and have 2 or 3 kids. But me, I am 40, only 2 years married with only 1 daughter who is only 3 months old.

I decided to wait until I found the right woman because I didn’t want to end up like my friends and family. Divorced! When I was married I knew I wanted it to be forever. I know EVERYONE wants it to be forever, but so many people get married young which turns into being a divorcee young.

My feeling about it is that when you meet someone and get married, you are supposed to learn and grow… together. That is the key, in my opinion.

When you are married too young, you learn and you grow but sometimes one person’s interest go in one direction while the other person’s go in the opposite. That is even ok, depending on the differences.

For me, I thought immediately when I met her, that she was a keeper. She was actually the complete opposite of anyone I had ever gone out with before. To me that was perfect because I wouldn’t have been single if they were the one.

My usual was outgoing, loud, thrill-seekers, who were just slightly shy of high maintence – meaning they loved getting dressed up in high heels and dresses but were just as comfy and their norm every day was jeans and a t shirt.

My wife is friendly, but not quite outgoing. She is actually very quiet. I sometimes have to ask her to repeat herself when I am only a few inches from her. She is also the furthest from anything resembling high maintenance that could be found. And all this is what makes her great.

Everyone has their own flaws and baggage. Hers is no different than anyone elses, but these past 4 + years of getting to know her with the last 2 as my wife, I am so lucky and proud and honored to see her grow into the person she is now.

She is still quiet and friendly (not outgoing) but she is such a GREAT mother. You can tell our daughter looks at her and see the world in her… just as I do. She has changed in so many ways. There are times I think she hates me, but most of the time I know she loves me.

She knows I love her, because I make sure to tell her so at least once a day.

I know I don’t do as much for her as I could but that just makes it mean so much MORE when I do I keep telling her to leave me a list of things to do to make her life easier!

But I do hope that she knows how much better my life is with her in it. How much I love all of our ups and downs we take, because we take them together. She is not into roller coasters, but I love them and life on a roller coaster is exciting and new. Life on a Merry go Round is predictable and boring.

We are opposites in the small, minor ways but we are the same in all the ways that matter most!

I love you sweetie! Happy Anniversary!


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High School. The final frontier… until college.

I have actually thought about this topic a lot. There is SOOO much I would do over if I could. I think we all think about this from time to time. High school was usually one of two possible times in your life. 1) the WORST time of your life or 2) The best time of your life. For me it was the former.

When you are a tween/teenager everything seems like the worst thing or the best thing. Basically, we are all dorky bipolar idiots! When something bad happens you said “I’,m never going to get over this EVER!!!” and when something good happens it was “The best day ever!!!”

In high school I was…

-Quiet (at least until the last half of my senior year)

– A lazy under-achiever (that is I passed my classes but never opened a book so I would receive B’s and C’s)

– Well-known but not popular (mainly because I didn’t go out of my way for anything but was always willing to help people.)

– Never participated in anything (I did not go to a single school dance, function or prom)

– Very insecure about myself and my body (I had some acne but nothing TOO crazy and never considered myself “in shape” but apparently I was according to my HS friends on facebook!)

– I was the quiet, nerdy, smart guy who underachieved and became more of a jock in senior year when I joined track and cross country.

These are all things I would do over. I was never bullied in the sense of having to be afraid this kid or that kid was going to beat me up, but I was a MAJOR pacifist and always walked away instead of standing up for myself. I only had one actual fight in high school and that was while I was a freshmen and the guy was a senior. I was sort of short then, about 5’4ish and he was the same height. He hit me in the face with an umbrella and I called him a jerk and that was enough that he was going to “beat me up after class”.

I was slightly nervous but nothing like I expected and then at the end of class he got right in my face and told me to get away from him. I kept walking and told him to move. He didn’t and then punched me square in the face. I blinked and looked at him and said “if that is the hardest you can hit you are in a LOT of trouble!” He walked away and I walked away and that was that.

The best thing about that is about 5 or 6 years later I was met up with some friends to play roller hockey and he was there. He saw me and skated right up to me. I had yet to put on my skates so he was about 4 or 5 inches taller than his normal height, but, well, I guess he stopped growing by senior year and I he had to look up to me without my blades on. He had this cocky attitude until I stood up and towered over him and then his attitude changed. I guess he figured he would get me on the court so as we were playing he came FLYING up to me to check me. Now, I started playing roller hockey AFTER I was already good at ice hockey so I just steadied myself and he flew off his blades and landed square on his shoulders and helmet and knocked the wind out of himself. I helped him up and asked him if he was ok and from that moment forward he would go out of his way to act like my best friend when he saw me. It was definitely a sweet victory… albeit years later but better later than never.

When it came to school I was super lazy and if I could do it all over again I would apply myself a lot more. I do believe that by creating your study habits in elementary and high school helps you with everything in life. It took me a while to actually learn how to study when I went back to school. Now I am much better at it but I think I would have gone through Nursing school faster and better if I didn’t have to learn how to study since I never did it in high school.

I had a small, close-knit group of friends throughout high school and I thought that was enough. It was and I have many great memories of them. I even blogged about one of them who is still my best friend till this day. But when I went to college for computers I did not study because I was active in SOO many things. I was on the Campus Activity Board, the radio station, the newspaper, student government and I ran track and cross country. So, needless to say I did not do well, but I had a great social life. That happened because I was more outgoing the last half of senior year HS and when I started college I decided to do everything different and be who I wished I was in HS. So in college I had a very large group of friends and we hung out and talked ALL the time.

Thinking back now, it was not the worst time of my life, but it definitely could have been better. Lately, I really wish I had applied myself more to classes but even if I did, I wouldn’t have known what I wanted to be when I grew up. That question I could not really answer until I was almost 38 years old!

What were YOU like in high school? I was the quiet, shy guy that everyone was friendly with but not necessarily friends with outside of school.

 

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Every Monday I sit in class and look forward to receiving the MamaKat’s writing prompts deliver into my mailbox. Every Monday I am sit and learn a little bit about some Nursing aspect that I am supposed to know but won’t really learn until I enter the world of nursing and actually do it.

Some weeks I know what I am going to write and some weeks I cannot think of anything for the prompts am overworked between work, school, life and do not have the time. This week was NOT one of those times. The moment I saw the prompts I knew exactly which one I was going to do and what it was going to be about.

This week’s prompt is about my best friend for life.

We were ALWAYS there for each other. Always had each other’s back and always understood each other… especially in the times of most embarrassing and all.

Mark I became friends sometime around 5 or 6 years old. He lived a block away and lived on a VERY busy street. He could not ride his bicycle on his road otherwise he would have become a mark-pancake so he would bring his bicycle to what he called the “back road” and I called my block. I was shy since there was no one my age to hang out with on my street. Mark said “hi” to me one day and although I was shy, if someone initiated conversation, I took that as friendship and would just talk and talk. It was because of him I was determined to learn how to ride a two-wheeler bicycle.

About a week or so later I taught myself how to ride a two-wheeler and Mark and I were inseparable. We would ride all over. When one of us was punished, chances were very high that we both were because we were probably together doing something or going somewhere we were told not to go.

We grew up and went through elementary, middle and high school together. Mark was 3 months younger which actually made him a year behind me in school.

Mark and I were very identical in some ways and opposites in others. I embarrassed easy and cared what people thought of me. Mark was fearless, didn’t care what people thought and lived his life that if you don’t like me… tough. I always admired his inner strength and his take no BS attitude.

Mark also had a wise mouth which got him into trouble from time to time. From the time I was born until now I have only been in 3 fist fights in my whole life, two of them were because someone jumped into a fight Mark was having so I jumped in to protect Mark. That is how things have been from the beginning, always being there for each other… no matter what.

We would get into arguments over stupid things when we were younger and be screaming at each other saying we hate each other. Even yelling saying “well what time and I coming over to sleep over tonight!” and he would yell “8 o’clock asshole” and I would yell “OK you jerk” and our friends would be dumbfounded like, they just almost got into a fight but they are STILL sleeping over? Mark and I NEVER got into a real fight nor would we ever and we always have an understanding that no one else in the world understood.

In our teens we would ride our bicycles all over Long Island discovering new places and seeing how far we could ride. My mother freaked when I was 24 and she found out that at 12 Mark and I were bored so we rode our bicycles from Lindenhurst to Stony brook which was about 30 miles… each way.

I joined the Volunteer fire department a few months after he did and out badge numbers and gear lockers were side by side.

Mark was there for me when I broke up with the girl I thought was “the one” and knew not to ask me anything, just knew I would talk about it in due time with him. And I did.

I was there the night he needed to get home to help his dad in a very difficult time that a teenager shouldn’t have to. But I didn’t ask why or what was wrong just said “Ok, lets go”.

Mark and his girlfriend Tina (now his wife) would break up and get back together every other week. Tina always liked me but there was a time she really did not and that was because I would never let Mark sit at home when he was upset about breaking up. I would come over and if they were broken up I would take him out and we would get into SOME sort of trouble… because getting into trouble is what we call having fun! Nothing too major, just good respectful trouble.

I was there the day after his daughter was born.

He was there for me when my mom passed away.

His brother was his best man at his wedding but he told me that he wanted me to be best man but his mom demanded he have Billy and I told him I understood.

He was the best man at my wedding because… well he WAS the best man at my wedding and I am closer to him than I am to my own brother.

We were there when we invented “bike chases” and “car chases”

He was there with the “Hey knock it off” man.

Mark doubled up his junior year of High School to graduate with all of us that hung out, but only Mark and myself were the ones who graduated.

 

And there was a large area I have left out… Mark and his family I know saved my life.

Growing up my dad was, is an alcoholic. He hasn’t had anything to drink in over 20 years, but back then he drank… a LOT! Nothing crazy and not a mean drunk, he was the opposite. My dad was EVERY ones friend when he drank, but he and my mother would fight CONSTANTLY. Then he would leave and mom would need to yell so she would yell at me and my brother about toys, about school work, about anything.

My parents were NEVER abusive, but home life was very difficult. And that’s how mark and his family saved my life.

I spent MOST of my teens at Mark’s house. His mom would treat me just like one of her kids. She would smack me in the head if I was out of line and say she I did well when I did. I grew up learning to ALWAYS respect your elders. I always call anyone older than me Mister or misses… but not his family. His mom was Mamma Miller and his Dad was DUUUDE! His cousins would introduce me as their cousin Jim.

I didn’t know it then, but I do now. I am the person I am today because of Mark. Mark was always a little rude and crude, always VERY direct but his heart is always in the right place. Both of us always had the same morals. We both have a high code of honor. He knows I would do anything for him and his family no matter what, especially for what he and his family did for me. They allowed me to be a part of their family when I needed it the most.

Mark and I are still best friends to this day. We do not get to see each other much but he knows if he ever needs me any time day or night, all he needs to do is call and I am there for him. I haven’t seen him in a few months because work, life and school take up ALL my time, but I talk about him often to my friends and always very highly. I tell them his is more than my best friend… he is more of a brother to me than my own actual brother.

Having a lifelong friend like that is something I hope my kids learn all about when they are… well born and then grow up. And I hope Mark and I are the example which makes my kids realizes how important it is to have relationships like that.

Thank you Mark for being my brother in every way imaginable!

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