Monday, April 29, 2013

Hey Baby

I had dinner with friends last week and met their now 9-month-old twin babies for the first time.  As I held one of them for a minute (the one on the left in this picture) I had this rather odd thought … that might be the first time I ever held a baby.

OK, that’s crazy.  Every adult, even those without kids of their own, holds a baby at some time, right?  A nephew, a friend’s baby, some baby.  But I could not and still cannot remember ever holding a baby till last Tuesday.  How can that be?

I told a couple of co-workers my speculation and they said ‘no way’.  Then I laughed and said “I bet I know one adult other than me who never held a baby.”  One of them said my ex’s name and we all laughed; and I said yes, that’s who I was referring to.  So I texted her and asked and, well, she did hold babies, twice in her life.  I lost that bet with myself.  And she added that one of them was stinky and the other screamed at ear-splitting volume as soon as the Mom left the room.  That says a lot about the ex, in an odd way.

So the question in my head right now … am I the only adult who has never held a baby till after the age of 50?

And that leads to another question … what kind of parent would I have been?  I’ve been told I’d be a great Dad because I am patient, tolerant, understanding and supportive.  Yeah yeah, I am all that … now.  I wasn’t all that in my 20s, probably not in my 30s either.  Those are the two eras in my life in which I had planned to have kids.  Those marriages ended childless.  I was a somewhat insecure yet stubborn, immature, know-it-all in my 20s.  I probably would have been a disciplinarian father one moment and a free-spirit let-them-do-whatever-they-want parent the next, over-reacting to my own disciplinarian upbringing.  The kids would have been emotionally messed up.  I was more mature in my 30s but also selfish and career-driven.  In my 40s I married a woman who never liked or wanted children and I was ambivalent about it; yet I would have been a good parent by that time because I understood the whole idea of balancing discipline with supportiveness.  Of course parenting is a learning experience and a person can’t expect to know everything about how to do it until actually doing it.

Meanwhile, I’m still trying to remember if I ever held a baby prior to last Tuesday.  That just can’t be, can it?

Mall Update

So I went to the nearby mall Saturday in search of my ‘new look’.  It was my first visit to this particular mall in more than ten years but it felt just like it did then … big, confusing and full of stuff I don’t want or need.  However, I did stick with my usual shopping focus.  I had three specific types of things to buy or at least look at and that is exactly what I did.

First, as I mentioned a few days ago, was clothes.  I looked at dress clothes and casual clothes and quickly determined that Macy’s has a great selection of dress clothes that look right on 40 and 50 year olds and casual clothes perfectly suited to either 18-year-old high school seniors or 30-year-old gay men.  So I decided this would be a dress clothes shopping trip.  I looked at everything, had the sales guy measure me for proper shirt size (which turned out to be exactly the sizing I guessed) and picked out a couple of basic items.  I looked at every brand and ended up with Dockers pants and a Van Heusen shirt.  I know I said I would search for other brands but most of the other brands did not appeal to me, partly because the most popular current trend is ‘slim fit’ and while I am in decent shape, I am not ‘slim fit’.

The casual clothes choices were very frustrating.  There were some great looking items but most would look a little odd on me.  This is not a comfort zone issue, it is an issue of not trying to dress like an 18-year-old.  I was surprised by how many polo shirts were on display, however, but I am trying to get away from that look.  Funny thing is that maybe it is popular again and maybe I should just keep buying them, but in different colors than my usual palette.  I also considered advice given in the Comments section of my previous style post … I went with blue for the dress shirt and I did not see one single Hawaiian shirt.  Guess I’ll just have to go to Hawaii again for that.

The other items on my focused shopping list: skillets and a bicycle tire pump.  The tire pump was easy … I went to Sears.  Found what I wanted in the sporting goods department in five minutes; three of those minutes were a flashback to my first full-time job … in the sporting goods department of a Sears store.  The skillet story is a whole different matter.  There are way too many choices.  How can it be so hard to find good quality 10 inch and 12 inch non-stick skillets with covers?  And I want one pot … I don’t know the size, I just know it has to be larger than the medium sized one I already have.  I don’t want a whole set.

I did walk the mall end-to-end looking for other stores with men’s casual clothes but didn’t see any stores that appealed to me.  I chose not to enter every store because that violated my focused approach.  I think my next step in search of casual clothes is to visit another mall, one that is in a different part of my county featuring slightly more upscale stores.  If that doesn’t work, I’ll shove my ego in the closet and try Wal-mart.  Or maybe I should just go back to the place where I’ve done most of my clothes shopping during the past ten or fifteen years: the outlet mall.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Failures and Advice

No matter how many times I hear the stories noted in the illustration below, I am impressed.  You should be too.  Learn from these stories.  If someone gives you negative advice, ignore it.  If someone tells you can't do something, but you want to do it anyway, do it!  Surround yourself with supporters, mentors and fans.  Ignore the naysayers.  I have failed many times and I attribute those failures to my current successes.  I am not in the league of those in this picture, but I am a success by my own measures and far exceed many of my peers who gave me negative advice.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Style Shopping Men and a New Look

There is a rumor out there that men don’t care much about style and we hate to shop.  If that is true, then I am an exception, sort of.

I care about style but I am not very stylish.  My style history is a huge embarrassment.  I wore dress pants on a camping trip once, for example.  Another time at a dressy event in high school, I was whispering some catty comment about a classmate because he was wearing a black suit, white shirt and black tie.  I was wearing a patterned suit with a patterned shirt and a patterned tie, most of which barely went together.  Another classmate pointed that out to me and I shut up.  Funny how the two suits I currently own are both black, I always wear a solid color shirt with them, usually white or light blue, and my ties always are color-coordinated with the shirt in some way.

Shopping?  Well, I like to shop … in a focused know-what-I-want-go-in-get-it-and-leave sort of way.  If I am overwhelmed with choices or indecision, I leave and try it again some other time. I am not afraid to spend a little extra for something of good quality but I have limits in my head.  I am not going to spend $75 on a casual shirt, for example, no matter how much I like it.

My point?  I’m looking for a new look.

My current ‘look’ is such that I could be an ad model for Eddie Bauer or Dockers.  I like their clothes but I might finally have to admit that I am stuck in a style, color and brand rut.  I also like Van Heusen dress shirts and Reebok shoes.  Most of my dress and casual-Friday shirts are spread collar and I have quite the collection of polo shirts.  And I have several pairs of cargo pants and shorts.  I think I hear 1998 asking me to send their style back.

Here are some of my challenges: I like that style; it’s easy and comfortable.  Very few of my coworkers are over 50 like I am, so I don’t dress like they do.  My work place is very casual, but there is a ‘political’ advantage to dress more like a manager or a sales person, even though I am neither.  If I dressed like the 22 to 35-year-olds that dominate my floor in the building I would look really stupid.  Honestly, some of them look stupid in those clothes but they are right on target for their age group’s style.

A few years ago I did finally start buying brighter colors, for shirts anyway.  Hell, any color goes with khaki, right?  Therein lies the problem … half of my pants wardrobe is khaki.  Most of the rest is light brown, olive or taupe.  Eddie Bauer.  I also now buy flat front pants instead of pleated; style articles and my own observation tells me that’s all correct.

So I have three basic wardrobe needs … work, dress up activities and play.  I’ve got the dress up clothing covered … a black suit is a black suit.  I don’t wear suits much anyway.  Work should be the equivalent of ‘casual Friday’, not in the real business sense of that phrase, but in the fairly casual workplace sense.  Does that make sense?  A more stylish version of the Dockers/Eddie Bauer look.  For play … jeans, shorts, t-shirts, polo shirts, camp shirts.

I guess I really have to exit the khaki parade.  I happen to like the jeans-and-sport jacket look and some of my early 40s co-workers dress like that.  But I can’t decide what sport jacket works with that look … I know enough to know it’s not the same jacket as the one you’d wear with dark dress slacks in a more formal office.

Do boomer-age men even think about this stuff?  Am I over-thinking it?  Probably.  Is there an age-appropriate clothing style for men?  Again, probably.  Am I going to dress like someone who is my real age?  Hell no!  Will I dress like a 22-year-old?  Again, hell no!

Guess I’ll publish this now and start surfing clothing web sites.  I’m five minutes from a mall; maybe I’ll dare to go there this weekend.  To be continued.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Bits and Pieces

Had a pretty good weekend.  Went with a friend to a birthday party where I didn’t think I would know anybody there, including the birthday boy.  When I got there I realized I knew several people, all of whom I met on an outing with my friend more than a year ago.  Also discovered two of them like a lot of the same blues bands I like.

One of my goals in my ‘new life’ is to find a place where ‘everyone knows my name’ … my own sort of Cheers.  I won’t be a barfly who sits there drinking all night every night, but I’d like to frequent a place enough to where the bartenders know me.  Meanwhile I realized today that the owner of one of the wine stores I frequent now knows I’m a regular at his store.  He even knows at least one of the wines I like.  That’s a start.  Next time I’ll ask for his name and hope I can say Indian names without stumbling.

The Boston Marathon bombing and subsequent capture of the bombers had some odd connections to me and other who live in Maryland.  For one, the bomber’s uncle lives in the same town I live in; he was interviewed by all kinds of media so you’ve probably seen him. 

During that whole situation this week I couldn’t help but remember the DC Snipers from 2002.  That incident actually started a few blocks from where I work and scared the hell out of residents of DC, Maryland and Virginia for several weeks.  Odd thing:  it ended just a few miles past the exit where I had just moved, way out in the country, partly to get away from some of the congestion and insanity of the DC area.

While thinking about how close to home the sniper thing was, I remembered something else pretty odd about my past.  There have been fires at three of the radio stations where I worked, at the time I worked at them.  NO NO NO, I am NOT the arsonist.  The fire in Dallas was the result of an electrical issue with the elevator, the fire in Baltimore was an overheated heater; in fact it happened while I was in the middle of a DJ show and I’m the one who called 9-11.  The fire at my DC station’s old location was the result of a short in a cooler in the liquor store downstairs.  It is still freaky that three places I worked have had fires.

I love live music and I might be going to as many as six different music events in the next six weeks.  Two star local blues bands whose names came up in the birthday party conversation I mentioned earlier.  The other four are work-related and three of them feature popular country music artists or bands.  Music heaven.

I really need to get off my ass and finish straightening out my apartment.  I did so well at first but my guest room is still filled with unpacked boxes.  It’ll really only take a few hours to clean it but I keep putting it off.

I’ve done a pretty good job with my diet and exercise plan this week.  Did not hit the vending machine at all.  Had apples for desert instead of the incredibly delicious, fattening ice cream I crave.  Only had one small slice of birthday cake at that party Friday.  Went to my gym twice and had an intentionally hard workout during the second visit.  My biceps have returned from their vacation!!!

OK, I’m procrastinating now.  Time to end this, publish it, then spend the next hour or two straightening out my place. 

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Song Lyric Pieces

“ I numbed the pain at the expense of my liver”
- Miranda Lambert

“Oh we’re never gonna survive unless … we get a little crazy.”
- Seal

“This could be our last first kiss … history in the making.”
- Darius Rucker

“Straight ahead never turn round
Don’t back up, don’t back down
Full throttle wide open
You get tired, you don’t show it
Dig a little deeper when you think you can’t dig no more
That’s the only way I know”
- Jason Aldean

"I'll be yours until the sun doesn't shine
Till time stands still
until the winds don't blow
When today is just a memory to me
I know.....
I'll still be loving you."
- Restless Heart