Thursday, June 28, 2012

Be Our Guest

My first step into this new world called the blogosphere began on New Year’s Day.
That’s the day I wrote my first words in something I titled, “My Journey Through Unemployment.”
Over the last 30 months, the blog has evolved.
To say the least.
A lot of words about unemployment.
And a lot of words about food.

And music.
And more food.
And family.
And quite honestly whatever has been on my mind.
As I embark on a new chapter of my life.

Called parenthood.
I’m sure that too will become a pretty common topic in my blog.
Especially as I continue to search for my next job.
But today, my blog is not about me.
It’s about someone I met through my blog.
Her name is Christina McCale.
Dr. Christina McCale.
Recently the good doctor asked if she could write a guest blog about her life.
And her unemployment.
In a word, I said... YES!
Dr. McCale, or Chris, is the author of a book titled “Waiting for Change.”
“It’s a book about unemployment and how it impacts every part of someone’s life:  housing, the job hunt, kids, emotional health, and food.”
Don’t I know.
But those are her words not mine.
Today she has provided us more of her words.
750 of them.
Telling the story of her story.
Which is not much different than mine.
And maybe yours.
If you’ve got an extra five minutes, I encourage you to click the link to my "old" blog:
I think it's well worth it.

Thank you.

If you are interested in writing a guest blog, please feel free to contact me at

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Haircut 100

I got the best haircut of my life today.
Not just because I had a coupon.
And it really wasn’t the haircut.
It was more the words that were spoken during the haircut.
Between me.
And the person cutting my hair.
This wasn’t the first time I went to this local chop shop.
In fact, I think it was the third or fourth.
But amazingly, each time, the same lady has cut my hair.
I didn’t plan it that way.
I think it was hazmat.
Or kismet.
Or something like that.
Because there is clearly some strong connection between the two of us.
A connection that grows with every click of the scissors.
For whatever reason, I can still remember the first time she cut my hair.
That was the day she told me that she had spent her entire life living in the sticks.
And it was just recently that she moved to our “big” city.
The second time we talked about music.
A subject we both love.
She was impressed that I knew the name of the Red Hot Chili Peppers’ drummer.
"Chad Smith", the guy who looks exactly like Will Ferrell.
The next time I came in she told me how much she loved Sammy Hagar’s new band.
But she couldn’t think of the name.
“Chickenfoot,” I said.
A band that Smith also plays in.
That brought a giant smile.
But no discount on the haircut.
Now the fact that I was creating a bond between me and my hair stylist.... barber.... whatever.
Well, the fact that we had connected was good and all.
But it certainly didn’t prepare me for today’s haircut.
It all started when she asked me a very simple question.
“What are you doing on July 4th?”
“July 4th?”, I thought.
“That’s nearly two weeks away.”
That’s when I told her that I no longer plan that far ahead.
I think I said “I now live minute-to-minute.”
That answer got her wheels turning.
I told her that through the magic of therapy I now try to live in the moment.
Instead of getting too far ahead of myself.
More wheel turning.
Then I told her that my career, as I once knew it, was over.
That last part sent her wheels right into a tailspin.
“Are you in AA?”, she said.
In a stuttery whisper.
“No,” I replied.
I could see that my response not only confused her.
But it destroyed her thesis.
I informed her that over the last three years my life has been one big roller-coaster ride.
Got a job, don’t got a job.
Got a job, don’t got a job.
I explained that the game called company merger had cost me my career.
And it was really nothing I had done.
That made her start thinking again.
“Somebody did it to you,” she said.
“But I did it to myself.”
She said that she was the one responsible for being where she is today.
More specifically, a love affair with prescription pills and alcohol.
She told me that she’s been battling those demons for many years.
When I asked how long she’s been sober, she said:
“That’s a complicated question.”
Turns out the real answer is five months.
For the pills.
Not sure what the real answer is for the alcohol.
I could tell from our conversation that this is a lady with a good head on her shoulders.
But that good head hasn’t been able to stop some bad decisions.
By this point, the haircut was all done.
In fact I asked her to stop cutting.
“Because at my age, it’s not going to grow back.”
But we continued to talk.
For a while.
This trip to the barber was no longer just a haircut.
It was a therapy session.
Minus the couch.
I’m not sure if I was playing the role of Freud.
Or she was.
But we both walked away with what we really needed.
She got someone to listen.
And I got a great haircut.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

The Circle of Life

Mother’s Day.
Father’s Day.
Two days created by Hallmark.
Just like Grandparent’s Day.
And Secretary’s Day.
And you can probably add Valentine’s Day to the list as well.
Let’s be honest if any of these people meant anything to you.
You’d be giving them more than .0027397260274 of your attention every year.
That’s 1 day divided by 365.
As we “celebrate” Father’s Day today, I say why today?
Why JUST today!
Shouldn’t my kids make me breakfast every day?
Don’t I deserve a box of chocolates more than once a year?
And the same goes for Mothers.
And Veterans.
And Martin Luther Kings.
One day of love is nice.
But honoring someone you love on that special day each year has become nothing more than a cliche.
As cliche as “it’s the thought that counts.”
Screw that.
It’s not the thought that counts.
It’s the gift.
Come on -- how many ties are going to end up in the back of a closet in a couple of hours.
When’s the next time you are going to wear that “World’s Greatest Dad” t-shirt?
Personalized golf balls.
Don’t give me something under the giant FATHER’S DAY sign at Target.
Give me something I need.
For example, I needed a new chair for my office at home.
So my kids bought me a chair.
With my money.
My eight-year-old daughter told me to “chair-ish” the moment.
That sense of humor is worth a million bucks.
Thankfully the chair cost less than that.
The last time I really celebrated Father’s Day was 2002.
Exactly ten years ago.
Little did I know that two weeks after that Father’s Day.
My father would be gone.
Gone for good.
He died of a massive heart attack.
At the age of 75.
Ten years later, the memories I have of him are just that.
A few photos around the house.
A handful of stories.
But the connection I once had is disconnected.
A friend once told me that it took him seven years to get rid of “that” feeling after his dad had died.
I’d have to agree.
For several years after he passed I thought of my dad every day.
Slowly it became every other day.
Now, ten years later, I think of him just every so often.
Like on Father’s Day.
I’m not so sure that’s a good thing.
I’m not sure it’s bad either.
But with three of my own, Father’s Day has taken on an entirely new meaning.
Maybe that whole circle of life kinda thing.
This is the 16th time I will celebrate Father’s Day.
As a father.
The first one was very special.
I’m sure.
As was the next.
And each one thereafter.
But this time around, it has a much different meaning.
You see, my wife is pregnant.
Six months pregnant.
We found this out about six months ago.
Well, you probably figured that out.
But we’ve been keeping this info on a tight leash.
You see, we’ve been down this road before.
And with the age of the mother.
And the age of the father.
I’m 45.
I wanted to make sure things were all good before I put it out on the internet.
I’m happy to report that things are all good.
Very good.
The technician even informed us that the little nub on the monitor is not a third leg.
But rather a baby boy.
The little fella is scheduled to arrive in early September.
About a week after my father's birthday.
There’s that circle of life thing again.

Happy Father’s Day.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Memories On Ice

There are certain things in Los Angeles that you can’t even imagine.
Going 55 on the 405.
Going 45 on the 101.
And the Kings winning the Stanley Cup.
Monday night, hell froze over.
In front of 19,000 fans at the Staples Center.
And at least 19,000 more watching on TV.
The Los Angeles Kings hoisted the Cup for the first time in franchise history.
And while I was never the biggest Kings fan.
I always loved hockey.
I loved it so much that I used to travel from Southern California to Eastern Canada.
3,005 miles.
4,836 kilometers.
Just to watch my favorite team play the sport I loved the most.
The Quebec Nordiques.
But following the labor stoppage in 1994.
And the Nordiques moving to Denver in 1995.
My love for the game had disappeared.
The sport I always called my “favorite” had faded away.
In fact, Monday night was probably the first start-to-finish hockey game I watched in at least ten years.
Ok, maybe eight.
But the point is, for whatever reason I’d rather watch ice melt than ice hockey.
Oh I tried to find the magic again.
I even started a fantasy hockey league this year.
But even that didn’t work.
If it wasn’t for my hometown team trying to make history on Monday night, I probably would’ve been watching The Bachelorette.
This coming from a guy who used to buy the $5 seats to sit at the top of the Fabulous Forum.
To just watch hockey.
All the way at the top.
I was sitting in those seats on April 10, 1990.
The night of the hat trick.
Three different Kings scored three goals.
In the same game.
The same playoff game.
Dave Taylor.
Tomas Sandstrom.
And Tony Granato.
The only time in NHL playoff history that has ever happened.
The Kings beat Calgary that night, 12-4.
But two short weeks later, that season was over.
Over without a championship.
Just like every season before it.
And every season after it.
Until Monday night.
Unfortunately I can’t remember my first Kings game.
But I could never forget what they were wearing.
Talk about retro.
Those uniforms were so bright, you could actually see them from the top of the arena.
Purple and gold became the signature of LA’s hockey team.
That and the fact that they could never win the big one.
14 times in their first 20 years the Kings made the playoffs.
And 14 times they got eliminated.
Eliminated without even getting a sniff of the Stanley Cup.
But that all changed in the summer of 1988.
August 9th to be exact.
That was the day the Kings acquired The Great One.
The day Wayne Gretzky brought hockey to Southern California.
Or so they say.
It took Gretzky five minutes to put the Kings on the map.
And five years to put the Kings in the Stanley Cup finals.
But even with all of Hollywood behind them, the Kings couldn’t find a script with a happy ending.
Losing the 1993 championship to Montreal, four games to one.
Gretzky stayed in LA for two more years, but he never even got the Kings back to the playoffs.
In fact only one time in the next 17 years did the Kings even win a playoff series.
And this year wasn’t supposed to be any different.
The Kings barely skated their way into the post-season.
Finishing with the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference.
But instead of folding like the teams before them.
This group of Kings became different.
They became royalty.
They disposed of the #1 seed from Vancouver.
Then the #2 team from St. Louis.
Then the #3 team from Phoenix.
And before you knew it they were just one win away from bringing the Stanley Cup to Los Angeles.
That win came Monday night, in front of the home folk.
On TV it appeared that the Staples Center had never been louder.
And why not, LA fans do love a winner.
And winning is what the Kings did.
Erasing the memories of the four plus decades before them.
Beating New Jersey to win the Stanley Cup.
They won it for Marcel Dionne.
And Jerry Korab.
They won it for my friend Phil.
And my friend Erik.
They won it for the dozens of fans who watched hockey in LA before Gretzky got there.
And the dozens more who watched it after he left.
Believe it or not, the LA Kings had won the Stanley Cup.
There was a time when that would’ve been a big deal in my life.
But on this Monday night, it was just something to watch.