Tuesday, May 29, 2012

The Graduate (No, Not That One...)

Hunter graduated from fifth grade today.

Among the feelings of joy and pride in my first-born (he hates it when I call him that ;)) son is just a little bit of sadness.

Just a bit, mind you, but it stems from the fact that Hunter is growing up so quickly.

Here's Hunter on his first day of school, not all that long ago:

And here's today:

Look!  I's edu-mi-cated.  'N stuff...
In the fall, Hunter will attend Western Middle School, a local magnet school for visual and performing arts; he wants to be an artist/video game designer.  I have a feeling that he'll make it, and am really looking forward to watching him take that journey.

But just a little sad, because I'll always remember that little boy who stood on the front deck while his teary-eyed Dad took pictures.

From the boy you were and are, Hunter, to the man you'll be--I'll always be proud of you.

Thanks for reading my ranting, 

Monday, May 28, 2012

In Memoriam

My dad was a veteran of  the Viet Nam War.  I don't know much about his time over there; he never talked much about it, and I was smart enough to not ask a lot of questions about it.

Although he was one of the lucky ones who made it home (obviously, or I wouldn't be here), he had many friends and comrades who didn't.

 Due to his service, and the ultimate sacrifice made by so many of the people he knew, he always took Memorial Day very seriously. Don't get me wrong, he was always ready to fire up the grill or enjoy a few cold beers at the lake, but he always made sure that my brother and I knew that this isn't just a day for barbecues and picnics.

 I buried my Dad eight years ago yesterday.

 But I still carry what he taught me.

 Even though I never met the men he left behind when he came home from the war, he taught me to honor them and the price they paid for my continued freedom, and to never take that freedom for granted.

 As you enjoy the day off today, remember those who fought and died so that you could enjoy your freedoms today.

 To my Dad, and to all the men and women, past and present, who serve and protect our nation, thank you.

 Thanks for reading my ranting, Brad

Monday, May 21, 2012

The Ghost of a Memory

I'm haunted.

I have a ghost...

This isn't the kind of ghost that floats down abandoned halls, or stares wistfully from lonesome windows.

It doesn't shriek, it doesn't howl, and it doesn't weep (although sometimes I do).

This is a ghost that lives inside my mind, and it is now twenty years old.

You see, twenty years ago, I drew a picture.

This, in and of itself, is not surprising; I've been drawing since long before kindergarten, and will continue to draw (and paint, and sculpt) until I die or until my hands can no longer hold a pencil, whichever comes first.

The picture itself isn't important, though I remember it clearly.  Anyone who knows me knows that I am terrified of clowns, and as a consequence, draw scary clowns very, very well.  This particular nightmare became Circus the Clown, a terrifying monster that still shows up in my stories from time to time.

No, the picture isn't important, but the memories around it are.

It was mid-spring of 1992, and I was waiting at my house for two of my friends to come over.  Most of the evenings that we were able to get together, we spent creating comics.  We had our universe filled with super-powered people, cyborgs, autumn spirits, and yes, scary clown monsters.

My friends hadn't arrived yet, and I whiled away the early evening drawing.

I was listening to Enya's Shepherd Moons (great music to draw by), sitting at my desk in my room, lit only by my desk light.  The windows were open, and the scent of the air cleaned by that afternoon's thunderstorms drifted in.

That peculiar, blue-gray color that tints the world by twilight filtered through storm clouds painted my room and everything in it, except for the newsprint paper I was drawing on, which was bright white and deepest scarlet (red is an important color for clown monsters).

I remember looking up, realizing that an hour had gone by without my knowing it.  I looked around at my twilight-painted room, then down at my half-finished picture.  The music, the smell of the evening, the color of the light, the red pencil in my hand....

I felt a moment of profound, complete peace.

This is it, I thought.  This is what I want my life to be...

I want to live in this blue moment, creating worlds of words and images, forever.

Longer, if I can get it...

I was twenty-one then.

I'm forty-one now.

That life hasn't come around yet.

Over the years, the usual things happened:  I worked, went to school, met a girl, got married, had kids, got divorced...life got in the way.

My two friends and I don't get the chance to get together very often anymore. I'm lucky if I get to see one of them more than twice a year.  The other, I haven't seen or heard from in about three years.

I don't have the picture anymore; it was stored with a lot of others in my dad's garage, and lost when it burned down a couple of months after he died.

The dream became a memory.

The memory became a ghost.

A ghost that still haunts me.

Every now and again, when the world turns that blue-gray...when the wind moves the scent of the rain just so...when I listen to that music...and especially when I am reminded of how much I love to create, that ghost rises into the blue twilight.

I'm sitting in that same room right now, though it's a tv room instead of my old bedroom.  My ten year old son is sitting in a chair exactly where my desk once sat, and tears are biting at my eyes while the ghost stands behind me, waiting to be resurrected back into dream.

Don't get me wrong...I love life.  I love my children, and I love my job working with children with autism.

But dear Lord, I want to feel that peace again.

I still want that to be my life.

The ghost is awake all the time now, and I won't allow it to go back to ground.

I'm haunted.

And as long as I am, I know I'm still alive, still remembering.

Still creating.
Thanks for reading my ranting,

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Play ball!

I love baseball.

I know, weird, right?  I don't have the time or patience to watch any other sport (with the exception of boxing and the occasional hockey game), but I truly love baseball.

This past Friday night, the boys and I had a fantastic opportunity.  It was Scouts Night at Louisville Slugger Field, and we not only got to watch a baseball game on a cool evening, we got to march in a televised parade around the diamond before the game.

That would have been cool enough by itself, but there was also the game:

I don't get to do this stuff nearly enough...

The boys enjoyed the game well enough:
Why, yes.  Yes, I am a cheeseball...

Of course, Blake had more fun pretending to be a unicorn with his empty cotton candy tube...

Wheee!!  My head is pointy!!!

After the game, there were fireworks...


Not affiliated with American Idol...
And then, the real fun...we went and pitched our tents, and turned the outfield into a one-night hobotown:

Nice digs...

Which means that I got to see the view from the other side of the grass...

I've always wanted to do this....
There was a movie shown on the jumbo "Pepsi-Vision" scoreboard, which of course nobody watched 'cause everyone was too busy running around playing frisbee, football, and--naturally--baseball.

Nobody went to sleep til about two-thirty (the stadium lights were on 'til four-thirty or so), but everyone had a great time.

Not only did I get to see a ball game, but I got to participate in one special night of my boys' lives that they will never, ever forget, and that was the best part of the night.  Whatever else may come, we had a fantastic, fun night in our own field of dreams.

And, just to be totally random, here's a pic of our lovely Starbuck, who sadly couldn't go with us because a. she's a dog, and b.  she's a big coward and wouldn't have handled the fireworks at all well...

Feed me.....
Thanks for reading my ranting,