From the Archives: Foundations in Love

I was scrolling through my archives and came across this post from 2006. Ten days removed from Father’s Day, but still always applicable. Hope you enjoy.

 

Foundations in Love

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Championship Memories

October 26, 1997. Game 7 of the World Series. Marlins and Indians tied in the bottom of the 11th inning. Edgar Renteria at the plate, and he bloops a single over the glove of pitcher Charles Nagy and through the Indians’ infield. Craig Counsell trots home from third scoring the Series clinching run, and I start screaming like a mad man. Standing alone in my apartment, I race into the bedroom where my fiancé was sleeping. I wake her up with my yelling and incoherent blabbering. It would be three days before she speaks to me again.

October 25, 2003. Game 6 of the World Series. Josh Beckett on the mound for the Marlins, pitching on only three days’ rest, and trying to close out the series – on the road – against the vaulted Yankees. I’m once again standing alone in the family room of my house; pacing, sweating, praying. I’ve long since devoured my finger nails. My heart is racing at 120 beats per minute. Jorge Posada stabs at a pitch, making contact, and sending the ball dribbling up the first base line. Charging from the mound, Beckett scoops up the ball, tags Posada, and the Marlins are once again World Series champions. It would take me four days to get my voice back.

June 20, 2006. Game 6 of the NBA Finals. Dallas Maverick Jason Terry misses what would have been a game-tying three point shot, and the Miami heat hold on to win the game and their first ever NBA Championship. Standing alone in my apartment, I once again go into crazy person mode, and hope my neighbors don’t call the police because of all the yelling and screaming.

I remember vividly where I was for each of the recent championship-clinching moments for my beloved South Florida sports franchises. They are memories that are emblazoned into my brain; mental tattoos I will carry with me forever.

The same applies to other key sports moments I witnessed in my lifetime.

I remember jumping up and down with my dad in our living room as Kirk Gibson hit his majestic and legendary homerun to win Game 1 of the 1988 World Series. I remember yelling gibberish at the TV as I watched Marcus Allen weave his way through the Redskins’ defense in Super Bowl XVIII on his way to a 74 yard touchdown run. I even remember crying both a year before and a year later as I watched my Dolphins fail in Super Bowls XVII and XIX, respectively. The images of John Riggins plowing over Don McNeal and Roger Craig high-stepping into the end zone still haunt me as a sports fan.

But I recall more distinctly sharing those moments with my dad and other family members. I remember the laughing, the screaming, the cheering, and yes, the crying. I remember the euphoria and the sorrow those moments brought, but more so the fact I was able to share those emotions with the people I loved.

With the recent championships of both the Marlins and the Heat, however, what I specifically remember is that I was alone as I watched them happen. It was just me and my sports psychosis. The moments are still very memorable, but they don’t exactly rank with the memories from my childhood, where the smile on my dad’s face was outdone only by the smile on my face. Those moments were special, snapshots in time dipped in magic and sealed forever in that happy place that is the corner of my heart.

June 21, 2012. Game 5 of the NBA Finals. There was no drama. There was no suspense. For the better part of the 4th quarter, the Miami Heat held a twenty point lead over the Oklahoma City Thunder. The only things that were shocking were how dominating the Heat played to win their fourth consecutive game of the Finals, and Mike Miller’s lights out performance from 3-point range.

But one thing was spectacular as the clock ran down to zeroes and the Heat put a bow on their championship run. I watched the whole game with my daughter sitting right beside me. She laughed at my quirky mannerisms and ignored my sports Turrets as I yelled at the TV. She asked me why I spent so much time tweeting during the game. She indulged me as I felt the need to highlight and explain the nuances of the plays we’d just witnessed.

Yet through it all, we took in the historic moment together. I was able to watch her excitement build as the game progressed, as her eyes exploded open with every laser beam pass and gravity-defying dunk. I relished the sound of her pre-teen voice as she’d marvel, “that was awesome” or “that guy’s on fire.” She was less cheerleader and more a student of the game, but a fan nonetheless who was thrilled to see her dad’s favorite basketball team win it all. It would officially become her favorite basketball team that evening as well.

And as we took in the post-game festivities and watched LeBron James hoist the Larry O’Brien trophy in poetic celebration, I noticed the only thing bigger than the smile on my face was the smile on the face of my daughter. I hope she, too, will carry that mental tattoo with her forever.

Can You *BLEEPING* Hear Me Now?

I hate stupid people.

(let that marinate for a sec)

I hate stupid people …. A LOT! Couple that with lazy people and my blood gets boiling. Mix that all in with someone who allegedly gets paid to help me out (i.e. customer service representatives), and my brain just wants to implode.

<insert Rod Sterling voice here> Picture if you will, a man …. trying simply to upgrade his mother’s cell phone. Caught between the space and time of distance and circumstance. Trying to order a phone here so that it can be delivered there. A simple man trying to do a simple deed. What will he do when he realizes that upon clicking a button labeled ‘Live Chat Support’, he’s stepped into ….. the Batshit Zone.

[this is the actual transcript of my customer support ‘experience’ with Verizon Wireless]

You are now chatting with ‘Tanika’

Tanika: Hello. Thank you for visiting our chat service.  May I help you with your order today?

Tanika: You’ll enjoy America’s Best, Most Reliable Wireless Network.  

Gil: Why would I be receiving the following message when tyring to complete my online order?

Gil: (The billing and credit card address must be the same for phone and service orders.)

Gil: Sorry

Gil: We cannot verify the shipping address you entered. Please correct your shipping address and select the ‘Continue’ button below.

Gil: ^^that is the error I am getting.

Gil: I’ve manually enterred the shipping address twice

Tanika: Because your billing address and credit card address needs to be the same. Is your shipping address a P.O. Box?

Gil: No. My shipping address is not a PO Box.

Gil: ..and my billing and credit card addresses are the same.

Gil: I am trying to upgrade my mother’s phone.

Gil: She lives in Miami and I want the phone sent to her there.

Tanika: Okay did you your billing address in as the shipping address as well?

Gil: My billing address is different than the address to which I want the phone shipped.

Gil: I am in Tampa. I am the account holder. I am upgrading a device on my account. I want that device sent NOT to me, but rather to my mother who lives in Miami.

Tanika: Are you sure you are entering her address correctly?

Gil: Did you really just ask me that?

Gil: Did you NOT read where I typed I manually entered the adress TWICE?

Gil: What would cause the following error message?

Gil: We cannot verify the shipping address you entered. Please correct your shipping address and select the ‘Continue’ button below.

Gil: …and what does Verizon use to ‘validate’ an address?

Tanika: The system does not recognize the address, so you will need to put in your address and when you receive the phone send it to your mother.

Gil: Are YOU going to pay for me to send it to her?

Gil: You can’t possibly be serious?

Gil: So becaue Verizon has a broken system, I have to pay out of pocket to send my mother her phone?

Gil: Are you kidding me?

Tanika: I do apologize but that seems to be the only way if the system does recognize the address.

Gil: THAT’S your answer?

Gil: “Too bad, so sad …. system is broken so you’re S-O-L”

Gil: Seriously?

Tanika: Yes or you can contact customer service right now at 1-800-922-0204 to see what the problem is and is they can fix it.

Tanika: if

Tanika: Once again I understand your feeling and I apologize.

Gil: Please don’t hurt yourself going above and beyond to help me out.

Gil: …and thank you for not making this YOUR problem and passing the buck to customer service.

Gil: I really feel appreciated as a customer.

Gil: You’re the best.

Tanika: I am only a pre-sales agent and can not assist with technical issues.

Gil: Wait.

Gil: This is not a technical issue.

Gil: This is a SALES issue.

Gil: I cannot complete a sale (ergo VZW cannot get MY money) b/c your sales system (ergo verizonwireless.com) is not allowing the transactiont to complete.

Gil: So you can hide behind the “It’s not my job” routine all you want, but this really needs to be YOUR problem to fix.

Tanika: Unfortunately,the system not recognizing the address is a technical issue.

Gil: YOU’RE the first point of contact to me … the customer.

Gil: Way to go, over-achiever. I’ll just not upgrade the phone. Thanks for your help.

As it turns out, I started over with the order one more time and it went through. My mom will have her new phone by Friday evening.

Soapbox Tuesday

Every now and again, I come across articles or blog posts that just set me off. Having been raised Catholic, this one post stirred up those emotions in me that made me literally stop what I was doing and just start writing.

The igniting blog post can be found here and is copied below. I left a long and verbose comment which I wanted to capture in my own blog given the moderator of the original post can simply delete my comments at their discretion.

In a letter to President Obama this week, Archbishop Timothy Dolan, writing on behalf of the U.S. bishops, said the Obama administration’s fight against the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), which defines marriage as between one man and one woman, would “precipitate a national conflict between Church and State of enormous proportions and to the detriment of both institutions.”

From the archbishop’s letter:

I write with a growing sense of urgency about recent actions taken by your Administration that both escalate the threat to marriage and imperil the religious freedom of those who promote and defend marriage…
The Catholic Bishops stand ready to affirm every positive measure taken by you and your Administration to strengthen marriage and the family. We cannot be silent, however, when federal steps harmful to marriage, the laws defending it, and religious freedom continue apace…

I know that you treasure the importance that you and the First Lady, separately and as a couple, share in the lives of your children. The Mother‟s Day and Father‟s Day proclamations display a welcome conviction on your part that neither a mom nor a dad is expendable. I believe therefore that you would agree that every child has the right to be loved by both a mother and a father.

The institution of marriage is built on this truth, which goes to the core of what the Catholic Bishops of the United States, and the millions of citizens who stand with us on this issue, want for all children and for the common good of society. That is why it is particularly upsetting, Mr. President, when your Administration, through the various court documents, pronouncements and policies identified in the attached analysis, attributes to those who support DOMA a motivation rooted in prejudice and bias. It is especially wrong and unfair to equate opposition to redefining marriage with either intentional or willfully ignorant racial discrimination, as your Administration insists on doing.

We as Bishops of the Catholic Church recognize the immeasurable personal dignity and equal worth of all individuals, including those with same-sex attraction, and we reject all hatred and unjust treatment against any person. Our profound regard for marriage as the complementary and fruitful union of a man and a woman does not negate our concern for the well-being of all people but reinforces it. While all persons merit our full respect, no other relationships provide for the common good what marriage between husband and wife provides. The law should reflect this reality.

My comments were as follows:

It is sad and upsetting that Archbishop Dolan has done such a poor job in presenting his argument for DOMA, and although I disagree with his argument regarding what marriage should be, he really could have done a better job in presenting his case to the Obama administration,

“We cannot be silent, however, when federal steps harmful to marriage, the laws defending it, and religious freedom continue apace…” NOT defining marriage as being a union between a man and a woman does nothing to impede religious freedom. If anything, it serves to strengthen the concept of separation of church and state.

Christianity is the majority religion in the United States, but Christianity should not think itself as the vehicle to define marriage for every person living in this country. In Christianity, marriage is covenant among man, woman, and God. In the eyes of the US government, marriage is simply a contract between two individuals that is sanctioned by the state in which those individuals reside.

“I believe therefore that you would agree that every child has the right to be loved by both a mother and a father.” I think the goal should be for every child to be loved period! A male and female parent figure does not guarantee love. The proponents of DOMA need to stop with the implication that same-sex parents cannot provide adequate love for a child. Bad parents are bad parents, be they straight or gay. The Archbishops point on this matter is grossly flawed and should be summarily dismissed.

“The institution of marriage is built on this truth (that every child has the right to be loved by both a mother and a father).” This is not a truth but rather a teaching based on Christian dogma. Again, this argument is flawed and the Catholic Church is astoundingly arrogant in its attempt to subtlety impose its belief on all Americans.

“..no other relationships provide for the common good what marriage between husband and wife provides.” Again, completely subjective and not, in my opinion, remotely correct. Raising a child, be it one parent, two parents, or, as what happens with divorce, four parents, can be the single most important effort that provides for the common good. Children who are loved, nourished, and encouraged tend to become responsible and productive adults. I would argue THAT is much more important to the common good than whether or not a husband and wife love each other.

I do not believe the Catholic Church is seeking to be discriminatory, however they are caught in the grey area between their teachings and the diversity of the American public. They are intolerant to the idea of same-sex marriage, and they are trying to promote this idea to a public that thrives in tolerance. What the Catholic Church needs to do is recuse itself from the discussion of DOMA as it has no place trying to fold its beliefs into the legislation of this country. To do so – to blur the line that defines the separation of church and state – would be the action that would truly precipitate a national conflict.

The Power to Enable Dreams

I don’t normally do my blog posts on the fly. I usually have some semblance of a plan, then I open up MS Word and I start typing. This post I am writing directly into the text field of my blog site because that’s how quickly I want to get it published.

We all have our individual definitions of what power is. Some people seek physical power. Others seek political power. Yet, inside us all we possess the power of giving. Be it a smile, be it a gesture, be it a dollar; giving of yourself to or for someone else can be the most powerful thing in the world.

My friends Stacey Monk and Sanjay Patel, founders of Epic Change and two of the most giving and selfless people I know, are requesting the help of the power that lies in you. In summary, we’re looking to provide a special graduation gift to one boy and one girl from the first ever graduation class of Shephard’s Junior Primary School in Tanzania.

Mind you, this is not just any school. Shephard’s started as the dream of Mama Lucy and was built out of the love and generosity of so many people from all over the world. Now we’re asking for you to help enable the dreams of two young students who aspire for so much in life.

Please follow this link to read Stacey’s personal appeal for this effort, and you can make a quick and easy donation using the PayPal widget on her page.  The power to make someone’s dream come true is something you possess, and no amount it too small. Thank you.

Evolving Perspective

So it feels like months have passed since I last blogged from my hotel room in Kingston, New York. It’s been a whirlwind three weeks since I came back from work stoppage duty in upstate New York, and I honestly don’t even know where to begin.

I surprised my daughter by picking her up at school (I had not told her I was coming back), then Lee and I took the next day off work and spent some serious time catching up (yes, that IS what the kids are calling it these days), and then it was back to the ‘real world’ and easing back into my daily work routine.

There’s been soccer practices and helping the kids with their homework. There’s been catching up on all work projects that were on hold because of the work stoppage. There have been get-togethers at our friends’ house for football, BBQ, and beer. Football season is once again upon us, and it feels so good to have that diversion back in my life every weekend.

It’s all starting to feel normal again.

But this past weekend has challenged my perception and understanding of what normal is. This past weekend reminded me of the burning ideas and passions inside of me, and that greatness is oftentimes not found in normalcy.

I had the extraordinary privilege of taking part in a three day brainstorming session for Epic Change. It was an experience that left me inspired to say the least, and got the creative juices flowing in terms of what we can do to affect positive change in the world. Yes, the world. Not just my neighborhood, not just my city, not just my state; but rather this nice little place we call planet Earth.

Although both big ideas and even bigger challenges came out of our summit meeting, so did the reminder that through love just about anything is possible. That got me thinking of what it is that truly geeks me out (or more eloquently stated, gets me off). The reality is the answer to that question is not found in the 8 – 5 mundane world of my current professional career. So much so that I had a conversation with my boss today about how I don’t see myself in my current role long term. As much as I would like to stay with my current employer, for both financial and logistical reasons, I can hear the grumblings inside my head telling me it’s time for a change.

Of course, these grumblings don’t pay the rent, don’t provide the health insurance, and don’t grant me the flexibility to work from home. Making a change, as enticing an idea as that is right now, can also be overwhelming given the state of our current economy, not to mention my current debt to income situation.

So I am resolved to make the best of the situation and try to change the world – or at the least play my small part in doing so – one action at a time. Through service to others, through the donation of my writing talents, through the giving of my time and resources; it all begins with love and the burning desire to make better that which is in front of us.

Over the course of the next several months, you may see a varying array of blog posts from me on this site. It’s all part of a journey I have decided to take with my friends as we set out to generate love and make a difference in the lives of others. I invite you to come along for the ride. Be careful, however. It’s my understanding inspiration can be quite contagious.