Posts Tagged ‘C.J. Vincent’

Fathering Forgiveness

June 16, 2014

Sunday June 15th, 2014 – Island Lake, IL

Happy Father’s Day! Those that know me well may think I have finally flipped completely, but I couldn’t be more sincere. I think this is going to be the best Father’s Day of my life, and it once again took me by surprise. At this point I don’t care how it took me – I am just delighted it did.

I have finally found it in my deepest being to forgive my father unconditionally for everything he ever did or said to hurt me. I can’t speak for anyone but myself, but I know that I have finally gotten over one of if not the biggest psychological humps in my life. It won’t be an issue again.

There have been so many things going on in my life lately, Father’s Day took a back seat in my mind this year. As with all the family based holidays that have been so difficult for so long, some years are better than others. This year Mother’s Day sent me over the edge, and that was enough.

I’ve still got some hurt I need to work through with her, but the old man and I have completed our business as of today. I think it was due to my sitting with my sister Tammy and talking about everything I felt a need to talk about on Friday. As we were looking through family pictures, we ran across his driver’s license and old work ID. Seeing him from a distance changed everything.

As a child, he was a giant fire breathing dragon to be feared. One little mistake or indiscretion could and often did bring the undiluted wrath of hell’s fury. Sometimes it involved beatings, but even getting yelled at with his intimidating snarl would strike extreme fear into every one of us.

He was a bully, and loved to get over by using fear and intimidation tactics. I eventually caught on to his game, and after that I no longer feared him. I learned to despise him and all bullies, and I have stood up to them in all forms my entire life. I’ve gotten some world class ass whippings as well, but at least I went down swinging. He was the inspiration for it, and the emotions ran deep.

For years and years no matter how hard I tried I just couldn’t let it go. I read books and articles about forgiveness, and I knew they were correct by saying I needed to do it – but I couldn’t find the button and it wouldn’t go away. I thought I did a few times, but I was only fooling myself.

My step mother was the only person I ever knew that was in his class of evil, and between the two I had more issues than Mad magazine. She was the only humanoid I ever ran across that was in his league of evil, and as a child I prayed for her slow and painful death. Guess what? I got it!

It was only when I heard she had died that I was able to forgive her. My grandmother told me, and Grandma’s brain was in outer space due to Alzheimer’s. She must have told me ten times in two minutes, and when she did I immediately knew how wrong I was for wishing what I wished.

I was an adult by then, and when I heard the witch was dead I was able to see the situation a lot clearer than I could as a child. My step mother was a small town girl from the U.P. of Michigan, and came to Milwaukee the ‘big city’. Then she married Satan, and she had her cross to bear for the rest of her life. I’m not condoning her treatment of me, but I was able to forgive her for it.

I knew right then I was over it, and that it wouldn’t be an issue ever again. It hasn’t been, and it won’t be in the future. The damage is done, and I see things differently now. I don’t want to wish her soul to barbecue or anything like that. I’ve got my own problems, and wasting energy on her is not going to help either one of us. Getting closure on it all has been a huge load off my psyche.

I now have the exact same feeling about him, and I can finally dust off and move on. It used to eat at me from within, and quite often Father’s Day was a major trigger. I’d see my friends with good fathers be able to have someone to go to in times of need, and know I’d never have that. It made me angry, bitter and hurt more than I can put into words. Now, I don’t feel that anymore.

Do I still think he was a butt plug in the poop shoot of humanity? Without question. He was an all out loser that never should have had children, but he had his own problems. He was never that all powerful ogre he portrayed so well all throughout my childhood. He was a scared little boy all along, and didn’t want anyone to know it. He tried to cover it up by pretending he was a monster.

I think the biggest monster of all lived inside his own head. My grandfather used to tell me of how he would try to motivate my father time and time again and was never able to reach him. It always bothered Gramps, but he never stopped trying. When I got to be a teenager we would go out for breakfast once a week and catch up. He did the same with my father. It became tradition.

Gramps told me many times that between the two breakfasts each week I was without a doubt the adult of the two. My father apparently bitched about everything and was still that unsatisfied kid while I was growing into adulthood and maturing. For whatever reason, the old man was not able to figure life out. He told me himself that he was “a major underachiever and proud of it.”

There are a grand total of ZERO pictures of my father and me at any point in our lives. Not as a baby, not as a kid, and surely not as an adult. We didn’t have contact for years, and I talked to Tammy about that. She said he was a huge pain in the ass at the end, and made all of their lives a constant circus. I’m glad I wasn’t around for it, but I’m sorry they had to endure that for so long.

I know I’m not the only one that has had father issues, but mine were pretty intense. My friend C.J. Vincent reminded me that “you don’t forgive your father, you forgive yourself.” I agree with that wholeheartedly, but I think it’s important to be able to see things from the father’s viewpoint to do it completely. I’m not saying anyone has to forgive the actions, but knowing why is crucial.

My father was a coward. He was a social misfit, and had extremely low self esteem. None of it gives him a pass for how he treated us, but it sure does explain why. I looked at his picture on his driver’s license and ID card, and I saw a pathetic lowlife rather than that fire breathing monster.

I should have had Tammy make a copy of it so I could show it, but I didn’t think of it then. All I could do was just look at it with disgust and know with total certainty that it wasn’t any of our faults that we were treated worse than cattle by him. I think that’s what C.J. means by forgiving ourselves. I didn’t think I’d ever be able to get to this point, but I can feel that I absolutely have.

That doesn’t mean I’m ‘fixed’ though. There are still a few bubbling issues with my mother to work through, and I’m just not there yet. I know it’s basically the same story and the exact same principle should be used, but I’m human and there’s still some hurt there. I’ll get to it when I do. Apparently according to Tammy she’s still alive, so maybe there will be a meeting in our future.

I have a strict limit of one crisis at a time, so I’ll just enjoy this victory and know that I just got dealt a bad hand in the parental department I’ll have to play out for as long as I continue to draw breath. The only kind of true revenge I can get is to be a father figure and mentor to as many kids of all ages that I can. I was shown kindness from Gramps, and that’s what I am going to use as a model to show others. I feel like I’m finally free from the dragon’s evil grasp. Next crisis please.

Father issues run deep, and unfortunately with many. Forgiveness can be extremely difficult, or even unheard of to some.

Father issues run deep, and unfortunately with many. Forgiveness can be extremely difficult, or even unheard of to some.

Apparently I'm not alone or this poster wouldn't exist.

Apparently I am not alone, or this poster would not exist.

3000 Idiots

March 13, 2014

Wednesday March 12th, 2014 – Island Lake, IL

I seem to have gotten out of the gargantuan groove I was in for a few months, but I’m going to do an about face and go right back in that direction. I was riding a major wave there for a while – probably the best one I’ve ever ridden. It was bound to end at some point, but it’s not permanent.

I am going to consciously take my surf board back out in the water and find the next one. I will not let a couple of off days take me out of the ocean. There are a lot more waves to ride, and I am on a limited time schedule. The clock is ticking, and wallowing in mud takes away from the fun.

There was a change in schedule today that I was delighted to hear about. I had recently booked a show outside of Fort Wayne, IN for tonight, but the gig called this morning and said they were going to have to cancel due to bad weather. That made my entire day, as I had no desire to drive.

I ended up being able to get some work done, and also have some time to think. I wore myself out working on the Sharing For Sheri benefit show last night and the weeks leading up to it, but I still feel it was the right decision from a karma standpoint. I don’t regret helping anyone in need.

What I did regret was making a post on Facebook pointing out that every single wannabe in the city should have been lining up to see that show last night. It was a chance to watch SIX full time professional comedians practice their craft, and also donate to a worthy charity. Every one of the acts on last night’s show would have been glad to take time and answer questions from a newbie.

In fact, that would have been the ideal time. Comedians love to talk about comedy – especially in a room full of other comedians. We were all in a good mood last night, and had anyone shown up with even the least interest in being a professional he or she would have had all the time they wanted within reason to fire questions at any of us. What a magnificent opportunity they missed.

When I attempted to point that out logically, I was rewarded with a full smorgasbord of snide remarks aimed at my profanity ridden diatribe. I felt I needed to use strong language, because it was painfully obvious few if any were going to get anything subtle. There were roughly 3000 in the two Chicago Facebook group lists, and you mean to tell me not ONE comprehends this?

This isn’t the first time I’ve seen a poor turnout like this. None of the Milwaukee locals would show up when I did the benefit show for Officer Josh Albert whenever that was. It baffles me to the ends of the Earth why someone that claims to want to be a professional in any field wouldn’t go out of his or her way to network with people that have already done it. Why wouldn’t they?

We laughed about it last night. I was sitting with Larry Reeb and John DaCosse who blew the roof off the joint in less than ideal conditions. That wasn’t a comedy room per se, but when they took the stage it became one in a hurry. Their years of experience were immediately evident, and so were those of Sonya White and Patti Vasquez. Mike Preston had the flu, yet he lit it up also.

Even 12 year old Trevor Burke did a more than journeyman’s job. That wasn’t his audience but he went up and didn’t flinch all the way through his set. He stayed poised, and I was really proud of the way he hung in there and finished his set. It didn’t throw him a bit, and that’s a major feat.

The people who saw that show got their money’s worth and more, and there was a nice chunk of change raised for Sheri. The comedians were superb as a whole, and I felt great about booking the show myself. I put it together, because after thirty years I finally have a clue what I’m doing.

Why out of 3000 alleged wannabe comedians in town, not ONE would take advantage of such a rare opportunity is beyond my comprehension. But I’m not going to dwell on it and will focus on something positive. Those are 3000 of the dumbest apezoids I’ve run across in all my days.

The world is getting stupider and ruder by the minute, but I don’t have to put up with it. I have been above and beyond the call of duty when it comes to helping people and setting up shows to benefit those in need, and I’ll keep my eyes fixed on things like that. Those monkeys are in their own cage and it’s not my job to worry about their laughable lack of sense. I’ve got my own life.

I am thoroughly convinced that what one chooses to focus one’s thoughts on is a direct conduit to the quality of life that person gets to enjoy. Thoughts truly are things, and we are in control of a lot more than we think. I have been wasting my time bellyaching about a few sleazoids of late.

Why am I thinking about them? I don’t know, but it needs to stop. It’s dragging me right down to their level, and I refuse to accept that. I’ve come too far to let something that petty take me out of my groove. I had a little detour glitch these last couple of days, but now I’m back on the road.

I have been seriously contemplating whether or not to continue this daily cyber purge, and I’ve been pleasantly surprised to receive several calls and emails in the past 48 hours from people that I haven’t spoken with or seen in years that have been extremely kind to ask me to keep doing it.

I’ve always done it for me since I started, but knowing I have regular readers really blows wind into my sail. It gives me purpose. I know there are a lot of other dented cans out there, and I want to connect with them and give them hope that they’re not alone either on this insane little planet.

Kirk Noland is a guy I heard from today. He’s originally from Michigan, but now lives in L.A. He started as a comedian, and we worked together quite a few times over the years. We’ve never been close friends, but we always got along fine. I remember him as funny and highly creative.

Kirk made a point to call me today not only to say some very complimentary things about my writing, but to also inform me that he too is a dented can and struggles through many of the exact same things I do. I had no idea he was even following, and it was good to hear from him. He has evolved nicely, and now makes videos. See what he does at http://www.theminutewithkirknoland.com.

Tom Mabe is another creative person that I hadn’t heard from in a while. He’s out of Louisville and had some success with his ‘Revenge of the Telemarketers’ idea among other things. Tom has also been following, and I had no idea. He’s a brilliant marketer, and is at http://www.tommabe.com.

I also know that other quality people I like and respect have either consistently shared or given me the ‘like’ thumbs up including Don Reese, Donna Carter, C.J. Vincent, Billy Elmer, ‘Rusty Z’ and many more. I’m grateful for every last one of them, and I will continue writing even if they’re the only ones that ever read it while I’m alive. The 3000 idiots aren’t worth my time, but these people are.

Kirk Noland is a creative man of man talents. I'm flattered to have him as a reader. Check out his videos at www.themintewithkirknoland.com.

Kirk Noland is a creative man of many talents. I’m flattered to have him as a reader. Check out his videos at http://www.themintewithkirknoland.com.

Tom Mabe is another guy I've always respected. What a brilliant marketer he is. Super creative. www.tommabe.com.

Tom Mabe is another guy I’ve always respected. What a brilliant marketer he is – super creative and always thinking. http://www.tommabe.com.

Comedian Don Reese is one of the sweetest human beings I've ever met - and one of the funniest. He shaved his head before it was cool. LOVE that guy. www.donreese.com.

Comedian Don Reese is one of the sweetest human beings I’ve ever met – and one of the funniest. He shaved his head before it was cool. LOVE that guy, and you will too. http://www.donreese.com.

OOPS, forgot one. James R. Zingelman - aka 'Rusty Z' is a comedian and hypnotist. SUPER funny, and a great guy. www.zingproductions.com

James R. Zingelman – aka ‘Rusty Z’ is a comedian and hypnotist. SUPER funny is he, and a super guy too. http://www.zingproductions.com

Another Planet

January 1, 2014

Monday December 30th, 2013 – Tucson, AZ

Life is just full of pleasant surprises these days, and I’m not complaining. Today I had another one come out of nowhere, and again it absolutely blew me away. Whatever cosmic slot machine I have been playing of late is paying off handsomely, and the jackpot is the biggest I’ve ever hit.

Today I had the privilege of reconnecting with some people I have to admit were never friends. I hadn’t had any issues with them, but frankly we just were not close. We were acquaintances on the comedy trail twenty years ago, and through the magic of Facebook have gotten back in touch.

C.J. Vincent was a comedian based out of the Chicago area, and worked some of the same gigs I did in the late ‘80s and early ‘90s. We crossed paths on several occasions, and like with a lot of comedians we interacted on a professional level. Like me, C.J. had a tendency to be a polarizer.

That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but it can be a problem in the entertainment business. Word gets out one way or another, and it can be extremely difficult to shake a reputation once it settles. I had heard about C.J. before we ever crossed paths, but we never had a problem. I liked the guy.

One of the reasons he took some heat was because he had a business manager when nobody in the Chicago area was using one. Nobody says it can’t be done, and I never had a problem with it. His manager’s name was Mary Ellen Landen, and they successfully teamed up for several years.

Then, as happens often in standup comedy, for whatever reason they decided to move on. That has been the case of countless people I’ve worked with through the years, and there are all kinds of reasons for it. Some people can’t take the grind, and others decide to try something different.

One thing that stood out about C.J. from my recollection was his intellect. The guy functions at a level far higher than almost anyone I’ve ever met. He’s one of the most intelligent people I can ever remember meeting, and that’s probably why he clashed with people in the comedy industry.

I’m nowhere near C.J.’s level, and I’ve had my own scrapes. He’s a very smart person, but also a moral one and most of the beefs he had were about ethics. Unfortunately, there are quite a few in the entertainment game that are less than Gandhi level when it comes to treating people fairly.

I hadn’t had contact with C.J. or Mary Ellen in decades, but somehow we reconnected through the magic of Facebook like so many others. It really is a terrific way to go back through life and get caught up, and I don’t remember if he found me or I found him. Either way, we’re in touch.

C.J. noticed I was booked at Laffs in Tucson this week, and he and Mary Ellen now live on the outskirts of town. He invited me out to see their setup, and said it would be a relaxing retreat into nature. They run a nonprofit organization that specializes in education and wildlife preservation.

It’s called ‘WOW Arizona!’ aka Wild Outdoor World. Their website is http://www.wowaz.com and they’re doing some of the most amazing work I’ve ever seen. I had no idea they were doing this, and it was one of the most memorable and pleasant experiences I can ever remember having. It’s as far removed from standup comedy as there could ever be, but there’s still showbiz involved.

C.J. and Mary Ellen have people come to their home and they act as tour guides to see the great wonders of the desert. They’re both walking encyclopedias of fascinating knowledge of the local terrain and terrific hosts who understand showmanship. They’ve put together a unique endeavor, and it was extremely kind of them to invite me out to see it. It far exceeded all my expectations.

Quite honestly, when C.J. said “come out and take a tour”, I assumed it would be a few minute walk around their yard and then we’d have lunch and talk about comedy. HA! Was I wrong, but that’s not a bad thing. I ended up getting treated to one of the most amazing tours I’ve ever had.

I arrived at their compound around 11am, and it’s at the end of a dirt road located on the north end of town. They are not far from Coronado National Forest, which is almost two million acres of untouched desert beauty. Tucson has a lot going for it, and I see why they chose to move here.

Mary Ellen greeted me and C.J. showed up a few minutes later in biking gear to begin a desert ride with one of their clients. It was a married couple from Germany who live in Quebec, Canada named Peter and Patricia, and Patricia was celebrating her 50th birthday. She and Mary Ellen had a hike planned, and they invited me to come along. I wasn’t sure what to expect, but I said yes.

Mary Ellen loaded me up with a backpack that had ice cubes and a rubber tube that was used to drink water during the hike. I hadn’t planned on hiking that long, but this was a serious endeavor. We left around 11:30, and walked for HOURS. Yikes. About halfway through my legs were like noodles, but it was too late to turn back. I was in for a penny, in for a pound. I was lost in nature.

And what a spectacular place to get lost it is. We crossed into the Coronado National Forest for much of the way, and I can see why people fall in love with Arizona. There is one particular spot where we stood smack dab in the middle of hundreds of saguaro cacti, and it was like no feeling I have ever experienced. There was a distinct vibe and energy present, and it was awe inspiring.

Patricia has psychic abilities, and she said she could feel all kinds of energy going on there, and called it a ‘vortex’. I know I felt it too, and we stood there for several minutes to soak as much as we could. The stunning degree of absolute silence was deafening, but also majestic and soothing.

I don’t know exactly how far we walked, but it was several miles for sure. When we got deeper into the trip we went up and down some rather treacherous hills and my tongue was hanging out. I was using muscles I hadn’t used in a long time, and I felt every bit of it – but it was fantastic!

We met up with C.J. and Peter who were mountain biking another route, and we sat for a while and listened to C.J. tell us about the desert. The guy knows his stuff, as does Mary Ellen. She had been filling Patricia and me in on a list fascinating facts as we’d been walking, and the entire day was an educational jaunt. I hadn’t expected anything close to this, but I soaked in every minute.

After we got back, I thought I was going to drop over. Four hour hikes aren’t what I’m used to, but this was great fun. C.J. made us some delicious tortilla soup, and he’s a fabulous cook as well as just a warm nice person as is Mary Ellen. This is a day I won’t soon forget, and we graduated from acquaintances to friends. We had a super time, and I highly recommend anyone come out to experience this spectacular place. It’s like another planet, but one I would definitely call home.

I spent the day hiking through the Coronado National Forest in Tucson, AZ courtesy of WOW Arizona! www.wowaz.com

I spent the day hiking through the Coronado National Forest in Tucson, AZ courtesy of WOW Arizona! http://www.wowaz.com

It was a day filled with spectacular desert beauty. I felt like I was in a live action Roadrunner cartoon.

It was a day filled with spectacular desert beauty. I felt like I was in a live action Roadrunner cartoon.

Mary Ellen Landen (left) and C.J. Vincent (center) were acquaintances I knew from standup comedy twenty years go. Today, we became friends. Thanks for the wonderful experience!

Mary Ellen Landen (left) and C.J. Vincent (center) were acquaintances I knew from standup comedy twenty years go. Today, we became friends. Thanks for the wonderful experience! It was like visiting another planet.