18 Years, and Counting

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Today I celebrate 18 years of marriage with my wife Julie. 18 years of memories:

In 1996, we made a promise

In 1997, we were blessed with the best gift we never knew we wanted. Joseph Paul

In 1998, I graduated from CCS, Julie was changing lives

In 1999, we took a chance and moved to Atlanta, GA

In 2000, our reward for that chance was a beautiful little girl we named Rebekah Louise

In 2001, we took a chance and moved to the state of New York

In 2002, our reward for that chance was a beautiful little boy we named Aaron John

In 2003, we were regulars at the Strong National Museum of Play

In 2004, we cultivated our garden

In 2005, we spent many days in Maryland with Joanne

In 2006, we saw RENT in NYC

In 2007, we welcomed my brother and his family to spend Christmas in NY

In 2008, we traveled to OZ

In 2009, we saw my mother get remarried

In 2010, we spent lots of time in Disney thanks to our generous parents

In 2011, we bought a home

In 2012, we took a chance to forge our own path with Brandtatorship

In 2013, we left the country to celebrate a retirement (read: freedom)

In 2014, we started the college tours for the best gift we never knew we wanted

In 2015…

 

The Photos of Lewis Wickes Hine

photo 2 (2)Lewis Wickes Hine was an american sociologist and photographer that was born in 1874 and died in 1940. His photographs were instrumental in changing the child labor laws in the United States.  Many of his black and white photographs are currently on display in an exhibit at the George Eastman House, International Museum of Photography and Film located in Rochester, NY. The work is striking, raw and honest.  Many photos depict factory workers in undesirable conditions. The large format photo at the front of the exhibit of the young working children is particularly nice.  Right down to the kid on the right caught digging for gold.

A couple weekends ago while at the museum with the family and my visiting brother-in-law Steve, my oldest son Joey and I stumbled across a series of five Lewis Wickes Hine portraits that we lingered on for awhile.  The subjects were standing proud.  Facing the camera and cropped from about the chest-up. Each were from a different social class. The man in a suit.  The young girls in pretty lace dresses, the older farm hand. The strapping young man.  I turned to my son and said,

“Joey, look at each one of these photographs.  Each one, a person, with a life that’s long since gone.  They had a family, people that loved them, what is their story? They each have one that’s unique.  We can make assumptions of thier stories by the way they’re dressed. Does this man in a suit own his own company?  Did this woman just bake the best blueberry pie? Perhaps this man in overalls works outside on a plow and gets up before the dawn. His skin, weathered from the sun. Does this girl have any sisters? Did she get married? Have a family of her own?  Joey, It’s fascinating. Here we look at them as art, but in reality they were people first. Each of these individuals had others that depended on them. I would love to know their stories.”

Joey responded: “Wow, this guy has a really big nose!! Uncle Steven! Come look at how big this guys nose is!” and he turned to find his uncle.

…sigh…

The Lewis Wickes Hine exhibit is on display until September 8th and the George Eastman House, International Museum of Photography and Film.  Check it out if you have the time.

Growth In SYTE

Joey Audition

My son auditioned for an ensemble role in the Webster Theatre Guild’s 2014 Summer Youth Theatre Experience (SYTE) production of The Wedding Singer.

In the end of the school year, baseball games, work life and every other commitment hustle and bustle we apparently neglected to tell Joey of the SYTE audition. He found out about the audition yesterday from a friend at school. As a result he had to pick a song today (Read: at 3pm today), and had to get up in front of 15 his peers at 7pm and sing. Yep, quiet, shy, reserved Joey sang Any Dream Will Do, from Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. Whether he gets a part or not, I was very proud of my son for stepping outside his comfort zone to audition.

I was able to snap a stealth photo of him while on stage. When he sees it I am sure he’ll be mortified. My son amazes me every day. His ability to persevere in situations is remarkable. He was nervous as hell at the audition and while quiet in voice he sang beautiful and nailed it. I think he grew a foot taller today. My heart sure did.

Dogs (A Poem By My Son)

JoeyandMaxWhile cleaning my home office last week I came across a poem written by my son Joey. This was a school project that he did a couple years ago and while it’s about dogs it really translates to any household pet.
He has no idea I found it, held on to it for these last couple years and now decided to share with the world. I guess he’ll realize it someday as he reads through these posts. Maybe he’ll be mortified. Maybe he’ll smile. Who knows? It’s a sweet poem and if you’ve ever seen him interact with our dog Maxwell you’d know it’s spot on.

Dogs

Dogs are blankets that warm you on a cold day,
They make you feel like you’re never alone,
A dog will follow you with no delay,
And even to the world of the unknown

Dogs want to play and have some fun,
And understand when you are busy,
They wait for you, and when your work is done,
They play with you until you feel dizzy.

Even though our lives may be in distress,
They will always be there to comfort you,
And get rid of all the burdening stress,
So you will not feel nearly as blue.

So all that time,
That you and your dog spend,
Should reinforce that dogs,
Are man’s best friend.

-Joseph Paul Mayernik

The Ties That Bind.

Ties that BindMy son Joseph Paul is wise beyond his years.

Sensing my frustration Saturday morning he asked why. I told him being in Michigan, away from our home, our life, our dog Max takes it’s toll. Compound that with Rebekah’s dress she brought being way too small, forgetting black socks or not bringing the right dress shirt, or shoes and not being able to just go in our closets and switch them may sound trivial but that too takes its toll. All this slows us down and we were in serious danger of being late for the one event we came to Michigan for. Add the fact that we are here in on Mother’s Day weekend was a blessing but sitting in a car for 6 hours as we drive back to New York on Sunday is hardly the great day his Mother deserves.

Joey looked and me and said, “I understand, that’s hard. Is there as anything I could do help ease your stress?”

Um, what? My son, asking me if he could help my emotional state? Aren’t I the father and he the son? Like I said, my son is wise beyond his years. Joey has the gift of understanding, observation and logical thought. He is smart, compassionate and a true old soul. It’s an honor to be his Father.

“Just be respectful to your siblings and family while we are here. Listen to your Mother, and would you like to wear this blue tie to Annie’s First Communion?”

Joey responded, “Would it ease some of your stress?”

“Yes it would, Joey.”

“Okay I will. Show me how to tie it.”

So we sat on the spare bed in the upstairs of my Mother-In-Law’s home and I showed him, just like my Father showed me. It was a blessed moment, and not because he wore a tie, but because he reminded me that sometimes to make it through the day we may need someone to support us.

No matter the age.

The Moral of Mystic River

“Just admit what you did. Come on, it will be alright… just admit what you did.”

Jimmy Markum (Sean Penn) speaks these words as he waits for the justification he needs before killing Dave Boyle (Tim Robbins) in the 2003 movie Mystic River. Dave is bullied into giving Jimmy the closure he needs to deal with the death of his own teenage daughter. If you have not seen the movie read no further: Spoiler Alert! Dave dies, and shocker… he didn’t do it, and his reward for fessing up to crime he didn’t commit is his body gets dumped in the Mystic River.

In this case it’s not about getting to the truth. It’s about the need to be right at that moment so that feelings can be placed at ease. In most disputes the truth is muddled by our own interpretation of events, our own insecurities, or logical point of view. But what can’t be disputed are facts. In Mystic River, Dave was dealing in fact. Jimmy was dealing in emotion. Dave didn’t kill Jimmy’s daughter, and Jimmy finds out too late and since he was hunger for closure he acted in haste.

I hope my children understand this very key point so that when they are on the playground, or as adults they can always deal in fact. I don’t want their own interpretation altering the truth just to justify their position. Nor do I want them to wrongfully own up to something they didn’t do just because of pressure by another. Remember, facts can’t be disputed. Any good lawyer knows this.

The moral? Stand up for yourself and deal in fact. That way nobody gets wrongfully dumped in the river.

A Series of Riddles.

While shopping at the mall Joey poses this question: “Dad, I am going to tell you a series of riddles, you tell me your answer. Ready?”

“Sure.”

First question: “There’s a plane carrying 500 bricks. A man on the plane tosses one brick out the window. How many bricks are left on the plane?” Since I’m not a math guy and thinking it’s a trick question, I tentatively respond with “499”. Joey says correct. Score one for me.

Next question: “If you only have 3 steps to put an elephant in a refrigerator what would those steps be?” “Well basic physics aside, I would think it’s 1. Open the door, 2. Place the elephant inside, and 3. Close the door.” Joey says correct. Score two for me.

Next question: “Now explain in four steps how you’d place a deer in the same refrigerator the elephant is in?” Now on to the absurdity of the questions I respond with “1. Open the door, 2. Ask the elephant to slide over (remember physics don’t apply here in the riddle world), 3. Place the deer inside 4. Close the door.” Joey says “Incorrect, you need to ask the elephant to leave the fridge first” (I did not realize there wasn’t room for both of them inside the magical fridge of holding.) Score Dad 2, Joey 1.

Next question: “The lion is having a party with all the animals except for one, which one is missing and why?” Thinking this is a gimmie a respond, “The deer. He’s on the menu since he’s inside the fridge.” “Yes, the deer, but no he’s not to be eaten, he’s stuck inside the fridge.” I’ll take that as half credit. Dad 2.5, Joey 1.5.

Next question: “A woman needs to cross a river that’s home to a killer crocodile. How does she get across without getting eaten?” Thinking it’s a trick question I respond with. “She uses the bridge.” “Incorrect. The crocodile’s at the party with the lion.” Dammit. should have seen that coming. Dad 2.5, Joey 2.5.

Final question: “The woman still dies while trying to cross the river. How does she die?”

“She drown’s?”

“Nope”, he says… “She gets hit by the brick.”

Dammit, I knew this as a trick question. Final score: Dad 2.5, Joey 3.5.