Posts Tagged ‘family’

Brothers Again

July 9, 2014

Sunday July 6th, 2014 – Watertown, WI

2014 has been nothing short of a blockbuster personal year for me, and at the moment nothing else matters. It’s easy to take positive things for granted, and I think we all make that mistake on a regular basis. We focus on what we don’ t have and would like to rather than our greatest gifts.

Since my earliest childhood memories, all I wanted was to fit in with a family. Playing the role of the outsider grows old in a hurry, and I grew weary of it so long ago I can’t remember exactly when it was. All I know is what I wanted more than anything was to connect with my siblings.

I realize no family is perfect, but a lot of them I’ve seen are extremely close and there’s a sense of belonging and acceptance that I know I’ve missed for so long. It’s been unbelievably lonely to have gone through much of my life without that support structure, but I’m making up for it now.

Meeting up with my sister Tammy last month was a priceless gift. We got to say anything we’d ever maybe left unsaid, and there was no animosity or lingering soap opera story lines. We had a coming together for the first time as adults, and I know it’s going to be a permanent connection.

Today I drove to Watertown, WI to visit my brother Larry and his son Jake. Larry wanted to be at Tammy’s last month but he couldn’t make it. I think it worked out for the best because it was a chance for Tammy and me to clear any personal business we may have needed to. It was perfect.

Larry and I had our chance today, and it went exactly the same way. We hung out for the same five hour block of time Tammy and I did, but that was totally unintentional. I happened to notice the clock on my phone both times when I got in my car, and was amazed at how fast time flew.

While Tammy and I had our various minor issues over the years, I don’t ever remember Larry and me arguing, fighting, raising a voice or having a single cross word. Ever. He’s one of if not the most peaceful human souls I have ever known, and I appreciate him more now that I haven’t been in touch with him for so long. Getting to spend time with him today was a splendid treat.

I wasn’t going to jump on him for not staying in contact. That’s just the way he is. He’s got his own personal Mt. Everest of life problems to climb, and I knew it was nothing I did. I hoped we would be able to finally get back in contact, and now that we have I won’t ever let it lapse again.

Larry took the lion’s share of the abuse from our father. That poor kid took so many punches as a child – and for no reason other than our father was a sick mean spirited bully that needed to get help – none of us thought he’d ever make it to his 18th birthday. But he took it, and never bitched.

I don’t remember hearing Larry say even one negative or unkind word about the vicious son of a bitch, but I do recall him laughing pretty hard as kids when I came up with a nickname “Darth Father”. I think he may have felt ashamed for laughing, but he did anyway and I’m glad he did.

No child deserves to take as many cruel beatings as he did – especially when he did nothing to deserve them except being born at the wrong time to the wrong parents. I may have had issues of my own living with my grandparents, but it wasn’t that. My heart has always gone out to Larry.

We all felt horrible for him. Something of little to no real significance would infuriate the old man, and we all knew Larry would eventually have to take the beating. Some were much worse than others, but those bad ones still make me wince. I can still hear those screams, and I cringe.

Larry’s childhood was basically a forced labor camp. Our father was a notoriously cheap prick, and decided that wood heat was all that was needed. He forced Larry to cut the wood supply for the winter, and that’s basically all he did when he had any free time. What a waste of childhood.

Did Larry complain? He did what he was told, and all he wanted was to please that bag of shit. This went on for years, and no matter what problems I faced I always thought of Larry and knew that could have been me. I wouldn’t have handled it so peacefully, and I think the old man knew.

Larry eventually moved to Watertown, WI from Milwaukee, as that’s where quite a few of our mother’s family is from. Larry knows our mother way better than Tammy or I do, and he doesn’t have any ill feelings against her either. I’m telling you, he’s one of the calmest souls I ever met.

By all accounts, he probably should be in prison for a six state killing spree by now but he has worked at the same company for thirty five years and tried his best to carve out a life for himself. He’s a WONDERFUL father, and although he doesn’t have much whatever he does have goes to his son Jake and his daughter Gina. He tells them he loves them constantly – and really means it.

We went to have some pizza, and Jake was asking Larry about the material I do on my comedy CD about my brother beating me up all the time. Larry looked at him with a somber face and put his hand on Jake’s shoulder. “I sure did son, and BOY was it fun. Your uncle DESERVED it!”

Jake’s eyes got big, and Larry and I burst into laughter. I assured Jake it was only for comedic purposes, but even if he did beat me up I probably did deserve it. I didn’t go into detail about the beatings Larry took all those years, and it’s not my business. If Larry wants to share that, he will.

What I was able to share with Larry was some one on one time after we ate. Jake left us alone, as he knew we needed some time to reconnect. I told Larry I loved him and was proud of him for how he played the rotten hand of cards life dealt him. I told him he was a class act of the highest order, and I was proud to have him as my brother. The look on his face said it all. We both wept.

He shared some very deep thoughts, and said he still has nightmares about his childhood to this day. He told me he was filled with rage but channeled it by getting into martial arts. He’s nobody to mess with, and can pretty much handle himself with anyone walking the planet. He never uses it to show off, and never provokes anyone. He told me if he hadn’t gone into that he’d be dead.

I don’t think I could have absorbed Larry’s childhood, and I’m glad I didn’t have to. Mine was a difficult enough challenge, and I’m still mopping up the mess. Tammy has her own dung heap to navigate around, but at least now we can all help and encourage each other with the struggle.

The wonders these meetings are working inside my soul are miraculous. They are giving me an opportunity to get over my anger and issues and realize it wasn’t any of our faults. I need to meet next with our other brother Bruce, and we’ll get to it. For today, Larry and I are brothers again.

This picture was taken on the day I was brought to live with my grandparents. I was five months old. Look at my eyes. I knew.

This picture was taken on the day I was brought to live with my grandparents. I was five months old and separated from my siblings. Look at my eyes. I knew.

Roller Coaster Maintenance

June 18, 2014

Monday June 16th, 2014 – Island Lake, IL

Life’s roller coaster ride continues, but I’m not sure if I want to be on a roller coaster. It would be nice to get off for a while and get a hot dog or something, and maybe take a leak. The ups and downs are starting to take their toll as I get older. How about a ride on something less violent?

I just experienced a super ‘up’ by patching things up with my siblings this year. It was a major victory to get them to all come out for one meal, but that was just the first step. Everything can’t be ‘fixed’ in one sitting, and just like in any long term human relationship work has to be done.

Getting together with my sister Tammy for our barbecue last Friday was nothing short of a life changing experience in a wonderful way. I’d wanted to air those issues out since childhood, and I finally got my chance. We didn’t leave any unfinished business, and it feels like I’m a new man.

Yesterday I called my brother Larry on the phone, and we had a great conversation as well. We never fought as kids, but we have been apart for too long and it felt fantastic to get back in touch and catch up. He’s going through some problems of his own, and I was glad to be able to listen.

Our other brother Bruce is in Florida, and I wrote him a long email updating him on how it all went at Tammy’s, and went down a list of things that I was truly sorry for. It’s hard to admit one is wrong, but I also feel it’s necessary when it’s true. He wrote back a very short response saying we’re all good and that there’s no need to dig up the past. All he wants is for us to look forward.

That’s three for three extremely positive outcomes with three individuals that could not be any more different. We managed to agree that we all came from a horrible place, but none of us want to stay there. We are all on our own individual roller coaster rides, but we still share blood ties.

It mystifies me how life tends to play itself out. When my career has been at its best, my family situation has been in absolute shambles. Now that my family situation is the best it has ever been my career is in the toilet. I find that part funny and part frustrating beyond belief. But there it is.

I am finding myself really in need of a major vocational change of direction. Being constantly on the road used to be what kept me going and I couldn’t get enough of it. Now, the thought of being more than 100 miles from home makes my poop shoot wink with disgust. I’m SO over it.

I’m also over trying to outshout drunks and deal with lowlife booking agents. I want to do this on my terms, and I think I’ve earned that right. The drunks and the bookers don’t think so, but it isn’t up to them. Neither party will miss me, nor will any of them ever care if I’m happy or not.

The choice is entirely up to me, and I’m choosing happiness – or at least the pursuit of it. I have never been an ass kisser, and that seems to be a requirement in the entertainment game. If I were to decide to acquiesce and kiss an ass, it sure wouldn’t be any of the ones I’ve been dealing with. I’d do it for someone that had real power in the business – not some mediocre gigs in Michigan.

In some ways, I’m sitting in the best position I’ve ever been in. The inner peace I have chased for a lifetime has been caught – just in time to have to find a new way to generate steady income. It’s like I can’t even enjoy what I have waited so long to experience, but right now I can’t. I have to get myself stable financially, and then I need to find a therapist and get myself stable mentally as well. I have put some hard miles on my body and brain, it’s time for a maintenance overhaul.

Life is a roller coaster ride, but after a while we can all use a break from the whiplash.

Life is a roller coaster ride, but after a while we can all use a break from the whiplash.

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.

Untwisted Sister

June 15, 2014

Friday June 14th, 2014 – Island Lake, IL

This was my Facebook post today, and what made me decide I should start blogging again:

Yesterday was a rare day all around. Not only was it Friday the 13th AND a full moon, I got together with my sister Tammy at her house to celebrate her birthday which is actually Sunday the 15th. We had not spoken or had contact for a full TWENTY YEARS until all three of my siblings and I got together this past March for a reunion meal.

Family relationships can be infamously and notoriously delicate, and I know I’m not the only one that has been estranged from siblings or parents for years. I will say that our wayward tribe is at the top of the extreme list though, but the crackpots and wackadoos it all trickled down from are now dead and we are left and doing our best to ‘break the chain’.

There was a touch of awkwardness in March, but it didn’t last long. We had a really fun time that night, and it was a tremendous start. Last month I cautiously asked Tammy if I could take her out for a birthday meal, and she suggested we get together at her house to have a barbecue instead.

I had never seen her house, and she bought it with lottery winnings. She won a nice chunk of money 19 years ago – and then paid off the rest of the family so they wouldn’t tell me she won. It was very hurtful then, but we were both able to share a hearty laugh about it in March, and any pain or ill feelings are long gone.

There was also a time when I was 17 and lived with Tammy and her husband Jake when they were newly married and I needed a place to live. The rampant dysfunction in our family made it necessary to leave my grandparents’ house where I was raised because our grandfather had died and our grandmother was an icy cold German who had her own severe childhood issues. She passed a heap of them down to my father, and he in turn passed them on to us. The chain needed to be broken.

Tammy didn’t have to take me in but she did, and it was a very tense time for everyone. I used to bitch about her cooking constantly, but she was 21 and newly married and the last thing she needed was an asshole brother in the mix. I didn’t see that then, but I see it with crystal clarity now. I never felt close to Tammy as a small child, and sure didn’t at that time either.

Last night, Tammy grilled out a delicious feast of steak and chicken, and made a homemade pasta salad and cake that were probably the most delicious home cooked dishes I have ever eaten. The company helped, and I savored every scrumptious bite and every minute of conversation with her and Jake. We sat down to eat and before we knew it five hours had passed.

She hauled out a giant plastic storage tub of photo albums and we looked at all kinds of family pictures I had never seen before – and many that I had. Twenty years away is a long time. There were several pics of all of us as kids, and from the time when I lived with her. It brought back a flood of memories good and bad, but I think we needed to look through them together and just let a healing process take over. There were some deep thoughts exchanged between the three of us about topics that have been festering in all of us for decades – but not ONE cross word. We were intelligent adults discussing painful memories.

Our mother left when I was five months old, and Tammy was 4 1/2. She has her own pain and issues with it, and it’s different from mine. She is the only girl, and has been dealing with her pain the best she can all these years. She and Jake raised two very sweet kids and now they are grandparents of four more. They live a quiet peaceful life, and are doing a great job breaking the chain.

The four of us siblings could NOT be any more different people, but we all came from the same genetic cesspool. Our brother Larry was scheduled to come, but had a last minute emergency and had to back out. Our other brother Bruce Dobrient lives in Florida. I was sorry we couldn’t all get together again as a group, but I think it was important for Tammy and me to get some one on one time after all these years apart. I didn’t feel even a hint of any negative energy.

I never felt close to Tammy as a kid, and it felt like she just didn’t like me. All I wanted was to have a chance as adults to sit and air our feelings intelligently so we could both see where the other was coming from. We totally did that last night, and it went exactly as I hoped it would.There is no lingering anger on either side and I think we can FINALLY start to build a sibling relationship after all the pain and insanity we have both had to face. I know it will end very well.

What a one of a kind surreal day it was on so many levels. If it took a full moon and Friday the 13th to do it, so be it. I know there are others that have been apart from their families for years. I thought I would NEVER get a chance to reunite with any one of my three siblings, but now I am on good terms with them all and I know it’s not fake or temporary. We all realize the delicate nature of life, and despite where we all came from we are solid people and I’m proud of us all.

All four of us could easily have gone off the deep end and been serial killers or habitual criminals and nobody would have blamed us, but we have all chosen to fight it out and do our best. Getting together with Tammy was a highlight of my life, and at the end of the night she gave me a hug and invited me back any time I want to show up. I have a comedy show at the Northern Lights Theatre at Potawatomi Casino in Milwaukee on July 19th, and she and Jake are planning on coming out. Larry and Bruce will be invited too. I am just overjoyed to have this happen. Even if they don’t make it out, I’m sure we’ll all get together again.

I have no idea if anyone even read this far, but I had to get it out of my system. I think I’m going to start up my blog again because there is so much happening I can’t keep track of it all.

The point of this post is – patience DOES pay dividends. I will cherish last night’s visit for the rest of my life, and I know Tammy got something from it too. If you have a rotten or even slightly shaky family situation, HANG IN THERE because I am living proof it can totally change – and for the better.

We’re not the Cleavers and never will be, but we’re not the Munsters anymore either. What a relief! Miracles do happen, and this is something I’ve been asking for my entire life. It was without a doubt the best Friday the 13th of all time.

I still have a mountain of problems to climb, but this was a great healer of my inner turmoil.

This was THE best Friday the 13th I could ever imagine.

This was THE best Friday the 13th I could ever imagine. I would love more like it.

Sibling Revelry

March 10, 2014

Saturday March 8th, 2014 – Milwaukee, WI

What a nightmare. Today was the day I would finally be able to meet up with my siblings after a lifetime of pain and estrangement to hopefully get a much needed fresh start, but it could NOT have gone any worse. I showed up on time ready to make peace, but all of the old fires were relit.

All it turned out to be was a continuation of the ugly past, and smoldering embers that have had decades to stay warm ignited into raging flames within minutes. Before the appetizers arrived we were right back in the emotional sewage I’ve been trying to escape and flinging it at each other.

Everyone knew exactly what buttons to push to take the rage level to the absolute highest point of stress, and out of desperation we all went straight for each other’s emotional throats. Before it could calm down, the restaurant called the police to break up the melee. Hope was gone forever.

That’s how the nightmare went. Fortunately, that’s not at all how it turned out in real life. Part of being a dented can is almost automatically expecting the worst to happen, only because we’ve seen it so often in our lives. We’re deathly afraid to get our hopes up for anything, because when they do get stomped into the mud it hurts even more. That’s just how it is, and becomes habitual.

I’ll admit I was scared to death of this experience, and even though I thought it would go well there was still that ugly thought it could blow up in my face. I had several dreams about it, and at this point I just wanted to get it all over with so if it did go sour I could move on and let hope die.

Actually I was the one that ended up being late. It wasn’t intentional, and I originally wanted to leave early just to make sure I’d get there. But as usually happens the phone kept ringing with all kinds of things I needed to take care of, and before I knew it I was scrambling to make it on time.

I thought it would be appropriate to bring some kind of peace offering, even though I knew that wasn’t part of the deal. Nobody was expecting anything, but I thought it would be a nice touch so I wanted to do it. One thing I know all three have in common is that they enjoy casino gambling.

I stopped at a gas station and bought $99 worth of scratch off lottery tickets, and asked the lady to give them to me in three strips of 33. She gave me an odd look, but I didn’t waste time with an explanation because it only would have made me even later. I also bought three individual lottery tickets for the big jackpot tonight, and was on my way. I wanted to make sure things went well.

I arrived at the Cheesecake Factory in Mayfair Mall ten minutes late, and of course the parking lot was completely full. I couldn’t find a spot and people were waiting for others to pull out and I thought I was going to have an aneurism. I’d waited forty years for this chance, and now I had to wait for some lard ass polock to back his minivan out of a space so another one could squeeze in.

That was ten more minutes of torture, but I eventually found a spot and walked to the restaurant – which was as full as the parking lot. I made my way past the hostess and looked for faces I had not seen in decades but knew all too well. Sure enough, there they were. They all looked at me at once, and I was paralyzed with fear. The dented can in me was terrified they would immediately go to that most horrific place, but they just smiled and said hello. I knew then it would go well.

I said “I do think hugs are in order here,” and I did. None of our family has ever been huggers and I absolutely HATE it when a stranger does it, but this was a special occasion and I thought it was the right thing to do. They weren’t big long sloppy ones, but for us to start that way was very good. I passed out the scratch off tickets, and I could see they were a hit. It was worth the delay.

“I thought we might run out of things to talk about, so I brought these to make sure we wouldn’t get bored,” I said. They laughed. Then I sat down and said “So…anything NEW?” They laughed again, and it was a pleasant experience after that. The awkwardness was there, but it soon faded.

I took the lead and started with an apology. I stumbled through it, but it was very sincere. I said that anything I could say wouldn’t be an excuse, but there were reasons for why I did and said all the things I did and said. They sat through it, but I didn’t feel they needed to hear it like I thought they might. I’m glad I took ownership of it up front, but it faded quickly after that. I was thrilled.

My sister Tammy had a few things she wanted to say, but it wasn’t nearly as bad as I imagined. In fact, what she had pointed out was something I never even remembered saying. We all agreed those things were in the past, and not why we came together. That was the only bit of old news.

Brother Bruce was unbelievably approachable, and of any of us he’s the one that has made the most marks in the world. He’s done very well for himself in his career, and is very charming and funny and I see why he’s successful. He has his own business and not only paid for the meal – he flew up from Florida on his own dime to make sure we could all get together. What a classy act.

Bruce and I really clashed as kids, and it was very ugly. His mother was our step mother, and it just wasn’t a good position to be us. That was then, and I have a whole new perspective now like we all do. I’m sorry it started out so poorly, but he is extremely intelligent and I’m proud to have him as a brother. I accept him, Tammy and Larry unconditionally, and I hope they do me as well.

Brother Larry had it the worst of all of us. Our father used him as a human punching bag, and if there was ever anyone that would be a prime candidate to be an ax murderer it would be him. He took a LOT of abuse, but he has such a peaceful demeanor one would never know it. He’s one of the most laid back and easygoing people I have ever met, and it was wonderful to see him again.

Larry is the exact opposite of me, as when someone gets in my face I go toe to toe immediately and don’t back down. Larry is unbelievably slow to anger, but when he does – look out. He’s put people in the hospital, and is well trained in martial arts. That’s how he dealt with all his anger.

The meal was absolutely delicious, and we had fun just talking and reconnecting. We didn’t get too deep on any subject, and it was comfortable enough that we even talked about “him” for a bit – even though we’d agreed beforehand not to go there. We were all able to handle it, so we did.

We also sadly agreed that we were all robbed of our childhoods. We’ve all been doing our best with the hands we’ve been dealt, and we all loudly agreed we intend to “break the chain”. I think we’re all doing great despite where we came from, and this night could not have come at a better time for all of us. It’s a start – albeit a great one – but I have no idea where we will go from here. We all hugged goodbye, and I had a satisfying drive home. The nightmare did NOT come true!

I don't have an exact date of when my three siblings and I were in the same room at once, but I was probably around this old. It's been WAY too long, and I'm glad we could get back together.

I don’t have an exact date of when my three siblings and I were in the same room at once, but I was probably around this old. It’s been WAY too long, and I’m glad we could get back together. It was a great start to a happy ending.

Week At The Knees

March 6, 2014

Wednesday March 5th, 2014 – Island Lake, IL

I am more than a little apprehensive about the events of the next week, and I’m not going to lie about it. A better word might be ‘squeamish’, or maybe just plain old ‘scared’. Dented cans are a doubting bunch by nature, and we are the way we are in the first place largely due to demolished dreams and devastating disappointment. It’s only natural that we dissect the future with disdain.

I’ve got a pair of days starred on my immediate calendar that quite frankly could go either way. The first is on Saturday when I meet up with my siblings in one room for the first time as adults. I have only had contact with one – my brother Bruce – but that contact has gone extremely well.

It has only been via email and Facebook, but we’ve had some very well thought out exchanges and touched on some very painful and delicate subjects without being anything other than honest and intelligent. It has been nothing but positive, and every time we’ve done it has gotten better.

I’ve had zero interaction with my other brother Larry and sister Tammy, and after many years of silence I just can’t help but be a bit skittish. In my mind I don’t intend to go in with any ugly feelings, but in the back of my brain I have a fear of unintentionally saying the wrong thing and blowing it all up. I don’t think that will happen, but it has been so long that I just don’t know.

Larry is pretty laid back and we have never had any major arguments, but Tammy and I had a big blowup twenty years ago, and that may still be an issue with her. I don’t know where she is in her head with it or me in general, but I’m sure I’ll find out. She did agree to show up, so that makes me feel good. I just hope we can get past everything and start over. That’s the goal here.

I don’t think it’s possible to avoid at least a few awkward moments, but I’m hoping beyond all hope we can get over the hump and make it work. I’m not expecting anything huge, but I want to make the best of something I’ve waited for an entire lifetime. We’re all people, and people have feelings – and faults. All I really want is for us to acknowledge that and erase any past hostilities.

The other date that is looming large is next Tuesday March 11th. That’s the date of the comedy benefit show for former Zanies Comedy Club employee Sheri Johnson. I’m coordinating at least the comedy part of it, and I’ve been doing all I can to spread the word. It’s always a challenge to get fannies in seats, and now less than a week out I have NO clue if anybody will show up at all.

I’ve reached out to local and area media, and everyone else I can think of that knows Sheri. It’s an especially tricky endeavor, as it’s for just one person that no offense most people have no idea who she is. It doesn’t mean her cause isn’t worthy, but it’s tough to get people out to support one person rather than an entire cause. If it were for breast cancer, fine – but who is Sheri Johnson?

I have done more comedy benefits for more causes than I can count, and more than a few have been complete flops. Nothing is worse than showing up to an empty room, and that’s my biggest fear for Tuesday. We’ve got a super lineup of talent booked, and I hope we can pull off a stellar night for Sheri. She’s in rough shape right now, and can use the financial support. From a karma point of view, this is the right thing to do. It just is. I did my best, but is it good enough? We will soon see. Donate link: http://www.youcaring.com/medical-fundraiser/sharing-for-sheri/140736.

Not one but two events in the next week have me more than a little concerned.

Not one but two big events in the next week have me more than a little concerned – but all I can do is wait.

One is personal, and this is the other. PLEASE help spread the word if you can. Sheri can really use some help right now.

One is personal, and this is the other. PLEASE help spread the word if at all possible. Sheri can really use some help right now.

Across The Water

March 3, 2014

Saturday March 1st, 2014 – Muskegon, MI

From my earliest memory of seeing a large body of water first hand, the first thought that pops into my mind is wondering what’s on the other side. Growing up in Milwaukee, the water I saw was Lake Michigan and I was with my grandfather when I saw it. I was probably six or seven.

I remember asking Gramps “What’s over there on the other side?”

“Muskegon, Michigan.”

‘What’s that?”

“It’s another city in another state.”

My imagination took it from there. From that moment I began crafting a vivid mental image of what I purported to be an exotic faraway Mecca abuzz with rabid excitement and swashbuckling adventure. It was to Milwaukee what the New World was to Columbus – and I wanted to sample a spoon full of its charms. Surely it had to be better than the mundane boredom of my birthplace.

I don’t know why the thought of going there attacked my fancy so much, but it did. The legend of what I pictured Muskegon to be grew as fast or faster than I did, and somewhere in the back of my mind I always knew I would walk upon that soil. There was even a ferry boat that went there.

I assumed a ride on that boat would either be an Ellis Island immigration in reverse situation or a scary sequel to the Titanic or Edmund Fitzgerald. Neither appealed to me, and in all the years I had the chance to take that ferry I just never did. Somebody must have, as it is still operational.

After several years of getting out there as a road comedian, my professional trail eventually did go through Muskegon, MI – and the level of all out crushing disappointment was right up there in my life’s dumpster with finding out professional wrestling was fake and/or that I wasn’t going to ever receive the ten million dollars Ed McMahon promised. Baseball bat blows to the skull, all.

Muskegon, MI turned out to be just another town. Not a bustling city, but not a deserted island either. It’s a lot smaller than Milwaukee, and a lot less exciting – and I find Milwaukee to be not exciting whatsoever. It’s a blue collar working class city that tries to shine in Chicago’s shadow.

Muskegon is like a distant cousin we always heard about, but didn’t get to meet in person until a forced family get together like a wedding, funeral or reading of a will. It wasn’t a very moving experience, and when it was over everyone went their separate ways. That’s how this turned out, but I’m still glad I went there. It wasn’t the raucous thrill packed place I thought, but I got there.

Tonight I had a show in Muskegon at an old movie theatre. They have new owners and want to add live entertainment to the mix. They’ve only done a few shows, but it’s a nice facility. There was a smaller turnout tonight because of bad weather, and I never like to see that. It was a rough drive around the lake to get there, and a LOT longer than if I could have taken that ferry instead. But I couldn’t. Disappointment all around. But I did get paid, and made it home safely. Victory.

No offense to anyone from there, but Muskegon, MI was a lot more exciting in my imagination as a kid than it ever was in real life when I finally got there.

No offense to anyone from there, but Muskegon, MI was a lot more fun and exciting in my imagination as a kid than it ever was in real life when I finally arrived there. BORRR-ring!

I Miss Uranus

February 25, 2014

Sunday February 23rd, 2014 – Island Lake, IL

I’ve really been enjoying life these last couple of months, and much of the reason for that I still have to attribute to the positive energy flow that was started by reconnecting with my siblings. It has improved my life to the core, and everything just feels better because of it. It gives me hope.

We have our meeting set up for March 8th, but don’t have a place just yet. I’ll let them choose, as it really doesn’t matter in the least from my end. I’d be ok with a can of sardines and a glass of water. It’s not about where we meet or what we eat, it’s about having closure. That’s what I have wanted as long as I can remember, and even getting together one time will do that. It’s all I need.

I had one of my super vivid dreams a few nights ago. I have those from time to time, and when I do they’re unbelievably life like. I have had them about being on stage or TV or even playing in the NFL or NBA. When I’m having one, it’s like I am in a completely different world. And I am.

I can’t explain how they differ from regular dreams, but they absolutely do. In this most recent one, I was at the restaurant where we were supposed to meet up, and I sat at the table the hostess told me to go to. The place was crowded, but I could feel eyes on me from all across the room.

The longer I sat, the more uncomfortable I became. I finally left thinking they weren’t coming, and then I got to the parking lot and they were all driving up in one car. I was overwhelmed with emotions, and I started to weep openly. They all did too, and we tried to go back inside but it was closed. I felt pure exhilaration to see them, and the dream was so intense it felt frighteningly real.

When I woke up, it was all I could think about. I know there are a lot of built up emotions from my childhood, but I didn’t think it would affect me as deeply as it has. This is exactly what I feel I’ve needed forever, and I don’t know how I know it but I know everything else is just a bonus.

I am fully prepared in my mind should things go south. I don’t think they will, mainly because all of us have volunteered to be there. Nobody is coming kicking and screaming, but that doesn’t mean someone won’t change their mind before that day. I won’t, but I can’t speak for the rest of them. I know I’m going in with the right mindset, and no matter how it plays out I’ll deal with it.

There’s no denying there was a lot of damage done to all of us. Childhood was an ugly blur of dysfunction, and it will be painful to go back into that mess. We’re not going in there to troll up that old sludge, but I don’t see how at least a little can’t splatter on us during our time together.

We’ve all got raw nerves exposed, and chances of someone hitting one are unfortunately really good. I’m not going to lash out at anyone, and should it get out of hand I’ll politely leave and not initiate any combat. I believe in my heart none of us want that, but if it happens I’ll remain calm.

Even then, I won’t carry any grudges or wish them anything other than peace. That’s what I’ve wanted, and we’re almost there. I have no idea if we’ll stay in contact after that night, and though I’d really like that we’ve all built lives for ourselves and nothing would change much for any of us. We’ve already learned to live without each other, so anything more than that will be an added treat. I’m looking very forward to March 8th, and no matter what happens I’m already a winner.

The change that has come over me is dramatic, and I’ve never felt better. It’s pretty late in life to be starting over, but that’s how I feel. No matter what happens on March 8th, I will hopefully wake up on March 9th with something to aspire to. Without hopes and dreams, life is worthless.

I’d still love to find a good woman and experience what a healthy love relationship is. That’s a goal I’d like far more than comedy. I have been striking out left and right lately, even though I’m trying my best to put myself in a position to make myself available to someone special. It’s been a total blow to my already shaky self esteem, but if I don’t try I’ll never get my chance. It’s hard.

But like with my siblings, I know what it’s like to be alone and not much will change if I don’t hook up with Miss Dreamy Pants. I know several women I’d love to hook up with, but for some reason it’s just not clicking at the moment. Maybe I’m changing too much and too fast for them.

All I can do is be myself, and that’s one thing that I know is absolutely improving by amazing leaps and bounds. My whole inner psyche feels better than I ever remember, and I have to think it will catch up in the rest of my life. Maybe the women I like now aren’t the right ones for me.

I’ll let that happen as it will, or maybe it won’t. If I have to die alone, I’ve always been able to deal with that. I’ve been alone my whole life, so it’s not a big deal. I know I have trust issues, but a big part of getting over that will be this meeting. I feel great about it and am ready for anything.

What I’m not feeling great about is my career – or lack thereof. I am having without a doubt by far my best shows ever, but I’m not making much of a dent anywhere. I can’t seem to crack all of the big comedy club chains like the Improvs or the Funny Bones, and that’s only because of a jag against me by a few people in charge. It has nothing to do with my ability, but that’s how it goes.

Could all that turn around in a second? Absolutely! ONE big break will turn it around, and I’ve always known that. What I don’t know is if I feel like hanging in there much longer and sucking raw sewage fumes. It’s just not thrilling me, and I need a place where I can channel my passion.

In all honesty, what I want more than anything else is to develop the King of Uranus and make it a viable entity rather than a half baked whim I have kicked around with no set direction. There is a goldmine in Uranus, and I feel it with all my heart. It excites me to an inner boil, and it feels like my inner mission despite the fact people have told me I’m nuts. A lot more have laughed.

That’s the whole idea. I live to make people laugh, and it doesn’t have to be just doing standup comedy. I love doing it, but not with the life toll it takes. The King of Uranus is a goofy gimmick by itself, but the creative genius will come from the marketing aspect of how it all gets executed.

I want to be the head of a successful company that sells funny. That could be clothing, trinkets, novelties, live shows – it doesn’t matter. I want to create a brand, and be the personification of it. Much like Vince McMahon personifies the WWE, I want to be associated with Uranus. No joke.

Crazy? Without a doubt. Stupid? That’s debateable. I feel this so strongly I can’t keep it in, and it’s all that trips my trigger right now. Sink or swim, this is where my passion lies. I can see it all as vividly and realistic as one of my intense dreams. This idea has rotted too long. I miss Uranus!

Did you know that this is the official international symbol for Uranus? You do now.

Did you know that this is the official symbol for Uranus? You do now.

Here's my logo. Remember - it's always FUNNY when it comes from URANUS!

Remember – it’s always FUNNY when it comes from URANUS!

See what I mean? Who doesn't think this is funny? I don't want them around me.

See what I mean? Who doesn’t think this is funny? If you don’t, stay away from me please.

She might think it's funny.  Maybe she'd like a date with royalty!

She might think it’s funny. Better yet, maybe she’d like a date with royalty! Uranus is for lovers.

Who doesn't? It's the butt of every nine year old's jokes. Pun intended. This is the level of the public's sense of humor, and I'm going to get a few bucks from each of them. Thumbs up Uranus!

Who doesn’t? It’s the butt of every nine year old’s jokes. Pun intended. THIS is the level of the public’s sense of humor, and I intend to get a few bucks from each of them. Thumbs up Uranus!

Random Reflections

February 18, 2014

Monday February 17th, 2014 – Island Lake, IL

For as long as I’ll be around, February 17th will have personal significance. It’s not because of the fact it’s both Michael Jordan and Larry The Cable Guy’s birthdays, but that’s also in the mix. They were both born the same year as me, and they’ve achieved levels of success few ever reach.

Nobody doubts Michael Jordan’s esteemed position, but “Larry” is a topic of debate. For one, that’s not the name I know him as but I have nothing but respect for what he has done. He’s the same age as me, and worked many of the same gigs I did on his long way up the comedy ladder.

He found what the public likes, and cashed in. Good for him! I don’t begrudge him in the least. He earned it, and by all accounts is a very nice guy. I haven’t seen him in quite a while and we were never close buddies, but we did cross paths a few times and always got along splendidly.

I’m long past caring in the least what any entertainer does in their act. Michael Jordan played sports, and that’s an unforgiving force. The nicest person in the world will get cut if they aren’t able to meet the physical requirements. That’s all it is. There is no gray area whatsoever there.

Entertainment is a whole other scenario. It’s completely subjective, and what is great to one is garbage to another. Is “Larry” funny? Millions of paying customers think so, and that’s the only thing that matters. Comedians like to say “I’m WAY funnier than THAT” while driving to their gig in a town nobody ever heard of that pays $200 flat while ‘hacks’ sell out arenas nationwide.

I admit, I used to be one of those elitist comedy snobs that thought I knew what funny is. Who gives me or anyone else that right to think we have authority and/or control on what’s funny or not funny? It doesn’t matter in the least. All that matters is who can sell tickets. That’s the key.

Does Dane Cook make me laugh? He hasn’t yet, and I doubt if he will in the future. Most of my comedian friends share the same opinion, yet he’s performing for more people in one night than most of us do in six months. Who’s ‘funny’ now? I’m changing my ways in my old age.

Do I think Larry The Cable Guy is funny? I really don’t care. I’m not his target audience, so what’s the difference? If we cross paths again – and I hope we do, I like the guy – we won’t be talking about either of our acts anyway. We’ll share pleasantries, and that’s all that I care about.

I’ve got enough to worry about doing what I think is funny, and finding enough people that are in agreement and will pay to come see me perform. I have a pretty good grasp on who my crowd is, but I need to get in front of a lot more of them in a hurry so I can sock away some cash soon.

Michael Jordan and Larry The Cable Guy are just a month older than me on a calendar, but as far as finances go they’re eons ahead. They could live like kings for six lifetimes, but I still have to worry about paying my bills every month. I thought I’d have that figured out by now, but no.

Every time I see Michael Jordan have another birthday, part of me feels like I never came close to where I could have. He’s got a gorgeous new wife and twin babies, and I’m trolling back into my past hoping women I had a crush on years ago might toss me a mercy date. I’m embarrassed.

But that’s not why this date has personal significance. Today was my grandmother’s birth date in 1911, and coincidentally the date her son (and my father) died. I don’t know if that carries any meaning in the cosmos, but it always causes me to reflect on this date whether I want to or not.

I almost let the day get by without thinking of it, but then I signed online and the first picture I saw was a photo I’d never seen before of my father and step mother when they were very young. My brother Bruce posted it, and it caused me to do a double take when I saw it. That’s not how I remember either one of them, and it cast a whole new light on things. Everybody’s life changes.

Bruce and I have only recently become Facebook friends, and I’m thrilled we are. I commented on the picture and how I had never seen it before, and it started us on a positive exchange about a lot of things that gives me confidence that our reunion in March will be nothing but spectacular.

I’m seeing a side of him as an adult that I never saw as a kid, and it’s amazing. He’s extremely intelligent and very sharp witted and funny. My other brother Larry and sister Tammy are funny in their own way too, so if nothing else I think we’ll have some big laughs – and also some tears.

I couldn’t help but stare at that picture for a bit. I don’t have any pictures of my father. Not just none with me – none period. He was such an evil ogre in my memory that I wanted to block him out of my life force from an early age. We never posed for any pictures together, and that’s sad.

The image of my step mother Ann was anything but what was in the picture. She was younger than I’d ever known her, and I have to say quite attractive actually. She was the polar opposite of that in my childhood, and I remember praying for her slow and painful death. The saddest part of that is that I got it. She died at only 59 from the horrific complications of diabetes of all things.

It was only when I heard she died that I was able to forgive her. She was Bruce’s mother and it was very apparent that we were the step children. It was torture to live through as a kid, but now I can see why it was. Blood IS thicker than water, and she didn’t have to be nice to us. My father made her life pure hell, and it was all a big gaping wound that is just now starting to heal over.

My grandmother was no June Cleaver mother figure either. She came with her own bag of ugly and that was passed down to my father, who passed it on to Ann and us. Grandma was a cold one for sure, and Bruce hated her just as much as I couldn’t stand Ann. But now they are ALL dead.

And soon enough, Bruce and Tammy and Larry and I will join them. We have limited time and opportunities to patch things up, and live the rest of our days in peace. I have wanted this to take place since childhood, and I can feel it will be good for all of us. Our exchange today was a treat.

People can and do change, or at least let their guards down. I built a terrific relationship with Grandma before she died, and that’s how I’ll remember her. Ann and Russ (I just can’t come to call him ‘Dad’) were a different story. They and I never hit it off, and that’s a painful memory.

Bruce idolizes Ann, and I’m glad. I will never say anything bad about her again, and I’m very sorry and ashamed for what I’ve said in the past. But that was a lifetime ago, and I can see how much we’ve all grown. Bruce and Tammy and Larry and I have a real chance at a happy ending!

Michael Jordan and I were born less than a month apart in the same year. That's about all we have in common unfortunately.

Michael Jordan and I were born less than a month apart in the same year. That’s about all we have in common unfortunately.

Larry The Cable Guy has the same birthday as Michael, but we have crossed paths a few times. Nice guy, and I respect what he has accomplished. Like Michael, he's had a great ride.

Larry The Cable Guy has the same birthday as Michael, and we’ve have crossed paths a few times. Nice guy, and I respect what he has accomplished. Like Michael, he’s had a great run of success.

Today is also the anniversary of my father's death. This is a picture I hadn't seen before today, and it's nothing like how I remember him. I want to be nothing like he was - or at least that awful memory.

Today is also the anniversary of my father’s death. This is a picture I hadn’t seen before today, and it’s nothing like how I remember him. I aspire to be nothing like he ever was – or at least that awful memory.

It's also the birth date of my grandmother in 1911. Here's a dorky picture of me, and her in some sort of Loyal Order of Water Buffalo attire. Not sure where she got that, but PITA wasn't happy.

It’s also the birth date of my grandmother in 1911. Here’s a dorky picture of me, and her in some sort of ‘Loyal Order of Water Buffalo’ attire. I’m not sure where she got that getup, but I’m sure PETA wasn’t happy.

A Date In Stone

February 8, 2014

Monday February 3rd, 2014 – Island Lake, IL

It has been roughly six weeks now, and I’m still riding a high from the thought of reconnecting with my siblings. It has already changed my entire life for the better, and I feel it every day. I am very realistic in what I’m expecting from the actual meeting, and whatever happens I can handle.

All I ever wanted was closure, and I do think I’ll get it. The email exchanges I’ve had with my brother Bruce have gone tremendously well, and I can tell that he’s on the same wavelength that I am. Him getting our sister Tammy to come along was huge, as I wouldn’t have been able to do that. I don’t even know how to get a hold of her, but she agreed through Bruce to be a part of it.

Our other brother Larry is in too, and that’s everyone. I never really had a falling out with him, but for whatever reason we just fell out of touch. It’s been years, and I’ll be glad to see them all. It could have happened one at a time I suppose, but it’s going to happen all at once and I love it. I’m glad we’re all on the same page, and we’ve waited long enough. I’m looking forward to this.

Bruce will be flying up from Florida in March, and our scheduled meeting date is set for March 8th. Of course I have received several inquiries for bookings on that night – and well paid ones at that – but this is one time I wouldn’t think about budging. I’ve cleared my calendar, and that’s it.

There will be a lot of emotion I’m sure, and I want to enjoy every minute of it. I never thought I’d get this opportunity, and I don’t intend on blowing it. I know there’s a possibility it could get uncomfortable or even ugly, but even if that happened I won’t be upset. It won’t come from me.

I highly doubt it will come from the others either. This has been painful far too long, and even getting us all in a room is a major accomplishment. I don’t want anything but peace and closure, and from the tone of Bruce’s email that’s what everyone else wants too. If I have to sit through a few awkward moments I’m more than willing to do that for the chance at turning this all around.

Whatever happens after that date is really unimportant. I would love to be able to stay in touch with all of them, and at least have an open door for the rest of our lives. We are all getting older, and life isn’t guaranteed to anyone of any age. I’m glad we can do this while we’re all still alive.

I can only speak for myself, but I’m ecstatic this is happening. It has made my whole life better before it even happens, and the rest is gravy. It’s affecting the rest of my life, and I’m finding the change to be exactly what I wanted. All kinds of new people are coming into my life, and I feel a healthy and positive vibe everywhere. It should have been like this all along, but now it finally is.

The load that has been lifted off of my entire life is enormous, and I know now six weeks later that this was no temporary bipolar manic upswing. This was exactly where the source of my pain was for so long, and it has been addressed dead on. The results will have a major impact forever.

They already have. Absolutely everything about my life is markedly better, and I attribute this fact directly to this particular event. This was exactly what I needed, and I hope we can all come out of it better people with hope for the future. If nothing else, I want us to end any hostilities of the past and let the healing begin for us all. It already has for me, and it’s the best I’ve ever felt.

I don't know exactly how long it's been since all of my siblings and I have been in the same room, but it's been decades. We're scheduled to do it March 8th, and I'm thrilled beyond words.

I don’t know exactly how long it’s been since all of my siblings and I have been in the same room, but it’s been decades. We’re scheduled to do exactly that on March 8th, and I’m thrilled beyond words.