Not-So-Silly Bands

For years now I have been wearing silly bands on my left wrist. I wear them because my daughter Rebekah gave them to me. I can tell it makes her glow inside to know that I do. Every so often she’ll turn to me and say “Daddy, are you still wearing your silly bands? Do you need new ones? Want to trade?” Now the ironic thing is she no longer wears them, but I do. At first, I wore them because she asked. Now I wear them to serve as a daily reminder that my daughter Rebekah needs my constant protection, love and support.

Each time I look at these simple silly bands I am reminded that life for her is difficult. That each day is a struggle. She misreads social cues. She’s trusting … sometimes too trusting, and suffers from anxiety. Rebekah is allergic to seemingly everything, and does not understand sarcasm. A tough road for a little girl who’s in her first year of middle school. As a result, she has become an easy target for bullies at school. I know, kids are kids, and some of her classmates, or friends on the bus may not intend to hurt her feelings, but I certainly remember being 12. Kids jockey for social position during these years. It has to be hard for Rebekah to know that she doesn’t quite relate to her peers, but not understand why. As a Father my heart breaks for her and I am fully aware that I am overly-protective. Rebekah may be wired different and she may struggle, but that does not mean she is not smart. On the contrary, she is very smart, and just sees the world differently. Rebekah’s a good person with a huge heart and beautiful smile. Really get to know her past the playground, and you’ll see.

She is my daughter. My only daughter.

And I will forever support her. Silly bands and all.

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It’s Just An Opinion

That’s all it is. An opinion. My opinion. But it’s mine and no one else’s. My own take on a subject. It’s a collection of life experiences encapsulated into a series of short bursts that i dispense when the time is right. My opinions determine mood, impact feelings, reward creative and sting and build up egos. I rarely think of the impact when in the moment. I would think it’s much like a surgeon who doesn’t think of the future scar he/she leaves behind after a major procedure. They’re just concerned with the success of the operation. But then again, that is still just an opinion (since I am not a surgeon, nor have had any medical training outside of the application of band-aids).

The latest was judging creative work for the Canton Ad Fed Addy award show. A years worth of blood, sweat, tears and budgets judged in a matter of hours by me and my three fellow judges. The creative fate of the entrants rest in the balance of our opinions. When judging creative work it’s hard for me to suppress the hurt feelings filter, or conversely the “I wish I thought of that” response. Overall the work was solid. I did my share of involuntary laughter, and marveled at some executions that pushed the limits of budgets and what I thought possible. Long story short … there is some great creative coming out of Canton, Ohio.

All around the country, there is a lot of good creative work that gets produced for clients every year. However the good work goes on the fridge. It’s the exceptional ones, the ones that went from good to great, are singled out and get the gold.

And even that … is still just my opinion.

The 75th Ride on the Reading.

I love the game Monopoly. If I had to pick a favorite board game this would be it. Monopoly is the perfect game. Just enough strategy, balanced with luck. I love the game pieces, the colors of the board, the illustrations on the Community Chest and Chance cards. Monopoly has just enough math for me and I love that the playing board is filled with properties that are named after actual locations around Atlantic City, NJ. (However Illinois Avenue was renamed Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. in the 1980’s and the actual St. Charles Place no longer exists courtesy of a casino.)

Thanks in part to my Brother Dan and his friend Eric this is one game I know far too much about. Property costs, mortgage rates, and the fact that the famed Reading Railroad is pronounced Redding, not Reading. I have played so much I know what properties are the “real” ones you want to get, and when going to jail can sometimes win you the game. If your in the mood for a quick parlor trick, quiz me sometime. I won’t disappoint.

In 1998 Julie and I got a Deluxe Monopoly game for Christmas. The set has wooden, not plastic houses and hotels, gold colored game pieces including a classic train. A sweet spinning holder for the property cards, and a banker’s tray to keep the cash at the ready. More importantly the board has a dark purple Mediterranean and Baltic Avenue. Unlike the brown of the new sets of today. On January 1, 1999 we played our first game. Julie was the boot and I was the racecar and Julie won. I know this because for that game, and every game since, I have written on the underside of the box lid in a white Prismacolor pencil who played, what piece they used, what the date was, and more importantly who won.

Thirteen years later, game 75 was played last Sunday, New Year’s Day, 1-1-12. We had had several opportunities to play this game, We had the chance to play with Dan and Linda, My Mom and Norbert, Julie’s sister Joanne, and even our friends Mike and Rachel. For one reason or another we opted to not play and Game 75 was held. Held until Sunday.

This was the cliff notes version of game 75:

Julie was the thimble, Joey was the train, Rebekah was the dog, Aaron was the racecar, and I was the old utility van. Rebekah made it around the board first and ironically bought the Mediterranean Ave as the game’s first property. Aaron spent a lot of time in Jail, and I mopped up free parking and landed on Illinos Ave seemingly on every pass around. Aaron was out first, even with a saving move by Julie. She was next, then Rebekah setting up a showdown between Joey and me. In the end this game saw at least two fatal moves, mentions of the “full color spectrum, and 3 house plateau”, and ended up with Joey as the winner.

I’m glad my family likes Monopoly. I’m glad that as a family we can play games that don’t end in arguments. I’m glad that for 2 hours or so we can just worry about getting that last orange property versus a high score on some electronic device. In the end, this game was a worthy 75th, and one that I know we’ll all remember vividly when we pencil in #100, #125, or even #150.