Archive for the “Family” Category

My Family

Our son Sam has had an interesting fascination with the Titanic lately.  We’ve let him watch the 1997 movie “Titanic” and the early 1958 “A Night to Remember.”  We’ve checked out additional documentary DVDs from the library along with books.  He’s taken one of his giant Lego planes and converted it to be Titanic, complete with funnels and a break-away hull which allows him to sink it (from the couch to the floor) in dramatic near-real play action into two pieces.  It’s pretty cool actually.  I even helped him find the underwater 3D representation on the sea floor in Google Earth.

All this has re-kindled my own childhood interest in the story and the wreck.  I recall being intrigued by the idea of this unsinkable ship having sunk in 1912 and the fact it hadn’t been found.  I, like many others thought how cool it would be if someone did find it and was able to raise it.  I read Clive Cussler’s book “Raise the Titanic” and watched the movie of the same name.  These of course only kindled a belief the Titanic might one day be found and actually brought back to the surface.  Many people thought the same thing.  But tonight I got to thinking what a folly that was.

I’m sure before the Titanic was discovered by Bob Ballard, many people truly believed we’d find her and be able to affect a patch on her hull that would allow us to bring her up.  I’m certain there were grand visions of turning her into a museum, monument or sailing her again just to take the “unsinkable” meme and shake it in the face of God.

But God had other plans.

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For nearly 15 years it was the one thing I took care of the most. I treated it like it was the most valuable thing I had (which it was). I cherished it, I cared for it; I made sure it was the one thing in my life that would last. The next 10 years however, I hardly ever touched it. Today I’m reminded of the terrible things that can happen due to neglect over time.

I’m speaking of my 1971 Mach I Mustang. In 1986 it was pretty much “done” with new bodywork, paint, new engine and transmission, was all cleaned up, and became my every day driver. I would wash it and wax it on weekends. I would enter it in car shows, sometimes taking home a trophy.

No it wasn’t a show car, nearly but not quite. There were still small details I’d never bothered with, like the interior door panels or concourse correct things. It was my baby, specially modified in just the right areas to be -my- ride, personalized to -me- and nobody else. For years upon years I continued to take care of her.

Even when I moved into a new house, the first thing I did was make sure I had a garage to keep her in. The everyday driving habits tapered off after 10 years and found me driving a 1987 Jeep Cherokee Sport. She (the Mach I) lay silently in the garage, waiting for her turn to come again. Eventually it did, as I would still try to make a car show here and there or take her out for just a drive. But then one day the engine started making expensive noises, so she got parked until I could rebuild an engine for her.

In 2001 she got that new engine. A fresh rebuild I had done myself. New everything and even some special go-fast parts to make her purr. Once again she was a live horse in my stable ready to ride anytime I was ready. Sadly, she became an outdoor horse not long after that because I now owned a 1973 DeTomaso Pantera.
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This is a delayed post. I originally wrote this on a plane in August of this year. I’m just now getting around to editing and posting it.

It’s 2011, I’m 47. Where did the time go? Mentally I still feel like that testosterone filled young man of my 20’s; looking to fast cars and gorgeous women. Physically I feel like I’m in my 30’s. In reality, I’m married with a son who turned eight this year. I think the angst has changed.

Sometime after 16, when I got my first car and it opened more of the world to me, there was so much I wanted to do. I needed money and I needed to figure out how to be “smooth” with the ladies. I never really developed either one at that age. Does any kid? Instead I trekked along a long series of years that found me fawning over very few women and always trying to figure out the next step in finding good work to make money to take girls out. It found me working jobs that didn’t much seem like they had a future and I wasn’t very much sure where I wanted to go.

The one thing that brought stability to my younger years was being in the Washington Air National Guard. There was a commitment there, a one weekend a month and two weeks in the summer kind of commitment. It gave me some education, a place to be and people to know. It helped me build relationships and find jobs. It never really helped me find love though, that had to wait.

I still didn’t have a full time civilian job, and without one, I just never felt like I could support a wife, much less kids, and at the time I never really wanted kids. The angst was how to find a woman, how to date, how to make it to third base and what to do when it came time to hit a home run. The quest for a woman gave me angst. And oh what an angst it was.

My angst was driven by the lust for beautiful women; the desire for companionship from someone who cared for me, was gorgeous to behold and generally could satisfy my desires and whom I could satisfy in return. Even so, long ago my dad had impressed upon me the chivalry I should carry into my relationships. As I look back, I know it held me back some. My fathers words to me still ring true today, he said I should never do or say anything to a girl (woman) I wouldn’t want some man doing or saying to my little sister. Yea, -that- stuck in my head because I was protective of my little sister. It helped me treat the opposite sex with a bit more respect, and it sometimes kept them at arms length.

It was no wonder I really didn’t take my quest more seriously until after my sister was married. After that it just felt better as I tried to gain the confidence of the women I dated. Still, the angst was there. Some of that angst can be found in the poety and short stories I wrote in my younger days; things I’ve not done for years and sometimes wonder if I ever will again. I no longer have that same angst that drove the emotions and writing of my younger days.

Eventually I met a women and we saw the value of loving each other. We dated for about two years and finally got married. It’s like the quest was over, the dragon had been slain. The angst disappeared. I don’t wish to make it sound like marriage has subdued me, because I do have a loving wife and we enjoy many things together and separately. I still like fast cars, car shows, and other things. It’s just that now I share those things with my son and wife. Still the angst seems to be gone. I’m not pining after the affections of a girl anymore, because I have my wife now. Without that old angst I don’t seem to have that same lustful creativity I once had. It’s like marriage killed it, but I must it’s more than that. Perhaps it’s only suppressed, waiting in the wings for something to trigger it all again.

I now have a good job and a stable income (thank the Lord). I have a wife who takes care of me and a son who loves me. It’s like life is complete, yet sometimes there’s this empty hole. I think my angst fits in there, but it’s missing and it took a lot of my old creativity with it.

Have you seen it?

Asa Jay

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Please let me be perfectly clear about this, I am -not- anti-vaccine.

My son has Autism and I know there is a large body of individuals who believe vaccines are a primary cause of Autism. I also know my son’s behaviors appeared to change after a huge battery of vaccines were administered. Does that mean vaccines are causing Autism?

I recently read an article in which Bill Gates indicates those who are buying in to the anti-vaccine theory are putting their kids at great risk. I happen to agree. But if vaccines aren’t causing Autism, why is there so much anecdotal evidence indicating there is? I would like to explore my own observations and questions that make some people think I’m anti-vaccine (but I’m not).

I am not a doctor, or a chemist, or even a behavioral specialist. I’m an engineering and troubleshooting type; analyzing and collating data to come to logical conclusions. I’ve been using the Kepner-Tregoe method of problem solving since High School, though I didn’t know it at the time. I don’t wish to spend days researching answers to these questions; they are meant to be taken at face value for the reader to ponder and react accordingly.
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Our family sat down to watch the recent Veggie-Tales cartoon “It’s a Meaningful Life.” In it there was an interesting little quote:

“For every regrettable there’s a hypothetical.”

Wow. It brought back memories of a singular event the likes of which I’ve not really been faced with again. This movie gave an illustration of what could have been if the main character hadn’t had fate get in his way. In this story, the choice wasn’t so much his, but bound to circumstances beyond his control. The life he could have had if it hadn’t been for the unforeseen accident was not as desirable in the end. But again, the thing that changed the course for him was out of his control. The thing that changed mine? Well, let’s say the choice was fully within my control.

A decision I made at that moment, led me down a different path. I have to look at my life as it is now and be content. I -am- content. Sure, I strive for more, to do more, to keep my family fed, housed, clothed, with some change to spare for fun times. In a related thought, it occurs to me I try to keep myself as busy as possible in order to forget. Had I made that -other- choice, some 23 years ago, where would I be today?

Would I be in the same position I am now? Would I have this wonderful house we built? Would I be married to a woman who cares for me so much? Would I have the same job? Would I be facing the challenges I find with Sam and his conditions?

I don’t know. I just -don’t- know, and I never will. Why? Because we can’t construct an alternate future. The reality of what could have been will never be known, it can’t be. There is no such thing as time travel, unless you count the constant forward movement. There is no going back. Seems regrettable.

I’ve often wondered what would have happened. I often dream of what it would have been like. Even today there is constant mystery surrounding the big “what if.” I sometimes think this pain in my heart wouldn’t be there, but then I try to remind myself that it’s that pain that helps define who I am. I try to think how different it might be, but then I tell myself it could have been far worse; things could have unfolded much differently than what I daydream. I could in all fairness be less than who I am today.

Still the pain is there and though I try to tell myself I have no regrets, I lie. There is one. It’s only one and it shall haunt me the rest of my life. I’ve written of it before but it’s doubtful you’ll find it. I sometimes go months without it haunting me, and perhaps it’s not fair to say it haunts me anymore. I’ve faced it and overcome it, but the regret still hides deep in my heart and rears it’s head every once in a while.

It’s but a dream now, a shadow cast upon the dim recesses of my mind. Barely there, persistent and nearly transparent. And it’s things like this quote from the movie tonight that cause it to alight in my thoughts. The melancholy grows sweet again, I taste it and allow it to ferment the memories. Once more I shall drink of it’s reminder of things I could have done had I performed the other thought of two, yet without knowing where it would lead or how it would have left me, today.

With that drink, a spark occurs that tells me it’s the mystery of it all that burns in my blood and shall never be quenched. For it is in the mystery we are all drawn, to know what ends shall come: who did it, why, when and where. But this mystery is one without end, a book that was never written, an ending that will never be known. All because, of a different, choice.

Asa Jay

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Copyright 2014, Asa Jay Laughton