Posts Tagged ‘love’

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.

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.

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.

Thank You Randy Kosanke

September 10, 2013

Monday September 9th, 2013 – Fox Lake, IL

My long time good friend Randy Kosanke in Milwaukee sent out this mass email yesterday:

To all my friends,

I guess I have some bad news. They’ve taken me off chemo as it’s not working anymore. The cancer is spreading too fast. The doctor says I have three to six weeks left. I guess this is kind of shocking news, but please don’t be too upset.

I have been given a great life that I wouldn’t trade with anyone. I have the best family anyone could want, from probably the most perfect wife you could want to two of the greatest kids any man ever had and their wonderful spouses, and now the perfect grandson.

I also have the best friends any man could want who have given me the best times and laughs imaginable. I haven’t missed out on anything.

I truly love all of you and thank God for all our times together. Please don’t worry or mourn for me as I look forward to the next adventure. Please help out Jan as she’s under a lot of stress.

There will be no funeral as I am to be cremated and have my ashes thrown on Racquel Welch’s breasts – which probably sag too much and will spill on the floor. I guess they will dump them in my asshole neighbor’s yard.

It would be impossible to tell each and every one of you what you’ve meant to me, but know that I love you all deeply. Please don’t e-mail or call as I am too tired to respond.

Thank you all and goodbye.

Randy

It stopped me in my tracks, especially since I didn’t even know he was sick. I was stunned to get it, and couldn’t help thinking about it all day. Once again, the message is clear. Life is short.

I’ve known Randy going on thirty years. A rabid fan of comedy and long time active supporter of the local scene in Milwaukee, he was a frequent audience member that loved to hang out with the comedians afterward. He was especially supportive of beginners, and a longtime fan of mine.

One night he told me out of the blue that out of all the Milwaukee comedians of that time, there were only three that he thought had legitimate talent – Chris Barnes, Will Durst and me. Will had already moved to San Francisco years before, but is still a native of Milwaukee and started there. Randy was an authority on the local scene, and closely monitored every act that went on stage.

I agree wholeheartedly on his assessment of Chris and Will. To include me up there with them is as flattering as it gets, and he wouldn’t say it if he didn’t mean it. He and his wife attended my “Schlitz Happened!” show last April, but he didn’t let on that he was sick. I will miss him dearly.

I’ve got story after story of things he did over the years that really meant a lot. Just a few years ago, I was booked to be the first comedian ever at Milwaukee’s German Fest. Throughout much if not all of recorded history, Germans haven’t traditionally been known for frivolity and mirth.

They surely know how to bake a mean strudel and can dance the polka with anyone, but when it comes down to chuckles and yucks they’re severely lacking. Maybe twenty total showed up to see me perform on an outdoor stage that was built to seat several thousand, and it was one of the most embarrassing moments of my life. I gutted it out, and Randy and Jan were there to support

Afterward we drowned my sorrows in a large plate of sausage, and Randy cheered me up when I really needed a lift. He was such a fan of comedy that he wouldn’t let me get down about it. He kept telling me that I did a great job under the circumstances, and that I was blazing a new trail.

The single story that sums up Randy by far the most took place in 1992 when I had purchased a professional wrestling organization for which I had served as ring announcer. I bought a ring and a truck to haul it and put on shows around Southeastern Wisconsin. A unique adventure it was.

There were all kinds of painful aspects of that endeavor, but the hardest was taking proper care of the actual ring. It was heavy and cumbersome, and a total pain in the ass to deal with. I hadn’t considered it when I bought the business, and it turned out to be one of the main reasons I sold it.

The ring was stored at one of the wrestler’s houses who happened to live out in the sticks. He’d leave it set up in the summer, so if guys wanted to go and work out moves they could. It became a nightmare when it rained, and I’d have to make sure it was taken down and stored in the truck.

One day it was scheduled to rain, and I couldn’t get any of the wrestlers to help me move that damn ring. They all had piss poor excuses, but the rain was coming and I needed to take it down or the canvas would get soaked and the plywood underneath would warp. I was in a tight spot.

I had an office then, and Randy happened to wander in to say hello since he lived not far away and often would drop in. I told him of my situation, and without blinking he said he’d be glad to help and that’s exactly what he did. That ring was a bastard to move, but he helped me do it with not one word of complaining. I offered to pay him or buy him dinner, but he wouldn’t hear of it.

THAT is a true friend, and I never forgot him for that. When I was backed into a corner he did not hesitate to help and never asked for a thing. I must have thanked him hundreds of times over the years, and we’d laugh about it every time I brought it up. He’d ask if he could be a wrestler.

All of these memories came flooding back today, and there wasn’t one bad one in the bunch. I don’t have any good ones of my father, but I have a ton of Randy. I know his email instructed us not to write back, but I never listened to anyone until now and I ignored it and wrote anyway.

I thanked him for everything, and told him he was a true winner in life – and he is. He has love from a great family and that’s what I have always wanted. All the fame in the world won’t match what he has, and he realizes it too. Randy Kosanke will hold a special place in my heart forever.

There’s Life On Uranus!

February 4, 2010

Wednesday February 3rd, 2010 – Chicago, IL/Milwaukee, WI

I’m in a splendiferistic place in my head right now and I never want to leave. Things are falling into place in many areas and I can feel that I’m in the prime of my life. That might end before the weekend, or last for thirty years. Either way, I‘m feeling at peace TODAY.

Maybe this is the manic part of manic depression, but I don’t feel that way. I’ve had ups and downs my whole life, but this is different. There is just an inner energy that is pulsing through me that is completely engulfing me in a feeling of confidence, direction and dare I say it – love. That’s a powerful word, but that’s how I’m describing what I’m feeling.

What really put me in a good frame of mind this morning was getting an email from my web guy for the Uranus website Mark Huelskamp. We’ve been going back and forth for a couple of weeks now, and he’s taken control of this project from my friend Shelley who’d been helping me before. Shelley has been great, but I needed to take it to a higher level.

Shelley has a job and family and was doing it to help me as a friend. I totally appreciate that, but if I’m going to make a dream happen, I have to dive in all the way. Mark does it for a living, and he’s the brother in law of my comedian friend Jim McHugh. I don’t trust a lot of people, but Jim I do and he’s the one who set us up. Today I was thrilled he did.

Mark sent me about 2000 different fonts to look at and a few mockup website templates and we went back and forth on it for a while. Today he sent me the final product and it hit me right between the eyes. He nailed it and I just about started crying. It was exactly what I wanted. It has great eye appeal and is what I had pictured all along. It lit up my being.

This whole project has taken a lot longer than I expected and cost a lot more money that I don’t have to pay for things I didn’t want to buy. I first thought of it all the way back on September 1st, 2007 at the Baymont Inn in Salt Lake City. It’s taken over two years to get it this far, and I still haven’t sold the first product yet. That being said, I know it’ll work.

I’ve experimented a little with the concept and have gotten an overwhelmingly positive response from everyone who has seen it. Uranus is funny. Period. It always has been, and I don’t care if they try to change the pronunciation for the kids today. It’s a giant butt joke and there are endless ways to get to it. Now it’s my job to find as many of them as I can.

I didn’t invent Uranus jokes, but I’m going to claim them for my own. David Letterman didn’t invent the top ten list, but he made that his own. He claimed it, and it became what most people know his show for. Good for him, a trademark is not easy to acquire. It’s not something someone sits down with a pen and pad and makes up. It just kind of happens.

That’s how this idea came about. I was in the shower and it hit me out of nowhere but I was smart enough to listen and get out and start writing it down. Ideas kept flowing and I kept writing, and I still have all those notes today. I just haven’t done as much with them as I should have, and I wish I knew why. I’ve been very inconsistent, but not anymore.

Looking at that website template sent electricity through my veins. I actually got to SEE it with my own eyes, and I knew right there I was going to make it happen. I have no idea how I’m going to do it, and/or why I’m so confident, but I just know. It’s a great feeling.

I’ve got a ton of work ahead of me and I’m sure there will be crisis situations and every problem I never expected, but I’m not worried about any of that. I’m GOING to do this, if for no other reason than because it’s fun. I thought of it, I like it, and I’m doing it. Period.

That’s totally what life is all about, or at least I think it should be. Whether I ever make a nickel or not, it’s already been a success. It’s made a ton of people laugh who’ve heard of it and nothing else. I had a Uranus bumper sticker on the car I wrecked and all kinds of people beeped and gave me a thumbs up and even took pictures of it with a cell phone.

What I have to do is create an entire world around Uranus. See? That’s funny just to say out loud. Try it. And guess what? I’m the KING! How cool is that? What does a King Of Uranus exactly do? I haven’t figured that out yet. Why is there a King? Beats me. What’s so great is that nobody else knows either. I get to make it up and decide on all of it. Cool!

I guess I’m getting the chance to be a kid I never got when I was that age. There was all that ugliness and dysfunction going on that I had to grow up before I got a chance to blow all this juvenile poo out of my system when I was nine like I should have. It’s still in there all these years later, and it’s taken root in my soul. I’m having fun just thinking about this.

I had lunch in Chicago today with Marc Schultz. He saw how excited I was, and he said he’s never seen me so giddy about anything, even being on The Late Late Show last year. I have to admit, he’s right. This is THE most fun I’ve ever had in my life, and it isn’t even an actual entity yet. It’s getting there, and today was a big step. But, it’s still not a reality.

I drove up to Milwaukee to have dinner with my cousin Brett. We don’t get time to just sit and talk so tonight was a treat. He saw how much I was glowing and I tried to figure it all out with him. He’s known me his whole life, and has seen the ups and downs. He’s an amazingly creative guy and we’re on a similar wavelength. He sees what I’m trying to do.

The one thing we agreed on was that anger toward the past and especially our fathers is not the answer, and never was. Maybe that’s what’s gone from my life and I’m finally in a position to enjoy the good things of life rather than be consumed by bitterness as I was for a lot of years. I missed out on a lot of good things, but I don’t feel I’m missing them now.

We had a Chinese buffet and it was delicious. Then we went to Leon’s and had sundaes and they were even better. I am realizing that the journey IS the happiness, and chasing is where the fun and adventure in any project is. I’ve now got the best chase I’ve ever had!

I’ve still got bills and rent and troubles and clutter and everything I had before I had my revelation today or whatever it was. The thing is, I don’t care about any of those things at all. I care about bringing this concept to life. My creative energy has an outlet in Uranus!