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My Mother Was Right

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Friday, April 29, 2011

My Mother Was Right

Holy shit.  I just teared up at Toy Story 3.

In my defense, it's very musty in the house, allergies and what not, and yesterday was an emotional day, as I'm getting life insurance and blood samples bring up deep-seated issues of mortality and Catholic guilt.

But, yeah, I just cried over a toy cowboy and plastic spaceman, because my son, Holden, was sitting on my lap, and it made me think how he's getting older, and one day he'll be going to college and leave behind his toys and father.  Of course, I'm jumping the gun; he's not quite 8 months old.  But it made me miss my mother, who could tear up at the random overwrought Hallmark commercial or schmaltzy book when I was a kid, and when I'd ask what was wrong, she'd say, "Someday you'll have a kid of your own, and you'll see."  And I thought she was crazy.  I also didn't listen when she said I needed to eat right, exercise, and would someday return to my faith.  Check, check, check.


Fellow writer/blogger and friend Greg Kim suggested recently that I start a "Daddy Blog."  The thought of which making a part of me cringe.  As Harmon Leon said at a recent Lip Service West: Hell is other people's babies.  Before I had a kid, I'd see all the assholes who posted their kids' photos as their profile pic.  And now I am one of those assholes.  Because it is all vantage point, right?  When I was a criminal, I hated the police.  Didn't want to see them, hear about them, wanted nothing to do with them.  The other day I was driving back to my safe, gated community, saw a police officer guarding our entrance way, and I instinctively nodded.  Thanks, officer.  I realized what I'd done a few feet up the hill, so I rolled down the window and spit, turned up the rock 'n' roll.  But not too loud.  I wouldn't want to disturb my neighbors, most of whom are elderly, with names like Lucille and Eleanor.

So perspective.

Greg's idea was born from my need to get more hits on this thing, though as we close in on 10,000 for about 3 months' worth of work, we're doing well.  The most interesting part of having 10,000 people read this thing is that I have received 5 negative comments.  5 out of 10,000.  I've received a lot of positive comments. Don't remember a damn one of them.  But I remember each negative one.  I can even tell you their names: Cynthia, Eric, D. Waz, and Bradley.  OK.  I forget one. But his comment wasn't really that negative.

So it's giving the people what they want.  The negative comments tend to target two areas: my tendency to be snarky, and my life as an ex-junkie.  And now that I am a dad, especially, I kinda get sick about writing about the latter, and I'd like to soften the former.  I mean, I'm a nice guy, one of the nicest I know.  And a Daddy Blog would let me do that.  But would anyone read it?  Yes.  Mothers.  As Greg pointed out, parenting blogs get linked and linked and linked, and the fuckers blow up.  I could be a the "Cool Dad."  A-like so:

Or maybe not.  And I'm afraid I've been pigeon holed.  For though I am a bit sick of, to quote Johnny Thunders, "too much junkie business," it's what people want to read.  I mean, those are the posts that get responses.  My fiction and non-drug narratives?  Not so much.  You can see on the blog the most read pieces, and they are all drug-related and snarky.  So you give the people what they want, no?

No.  Or yes.  Not sure it matters much.  I don't write this thing for money.  I write it to keep writing, to keep my sanity, to fend off the demons of...mental...problems? It's keeping me limber, loose, for that moment when I am called upon to...write a book review?  Not sure.  Like Little Marie says, writers write.  And with that comes a lot of shit.  My friend Andrea summed up the writing profession the other day perfectly.  I hadn't heard back regarding a submission and was telling her they must've hated it.  She said, "Here's my four-word writing memoir: hear nothing, assume hate."  I guess when you factor that in, we're about 50/50 on the positive/negative comments.

So maybe I will write a Daddy Blog, Greg.  And maybe people will read it.  Because frankly I am in transition.  I am not a thieving scumbag anymore.  I am dad who cries at Toy Story 3.  And if nobody reads it, really, who gives a fuck?  I've got my boy.  And I might not be a great writer.  But I'm going to be goddamn good dad.


At April 29, 2011 at 10:12 AM , Blogger DSobczak said...

Great post Joe. I can still remember the exact moment when I had the epiphany that my parents were right if not all of the time, the vast majority of the time. I also remember coming home drunk that night and having one more pop with my dad on the deck and sharing this info with him.

I remember saying, but more likely slurring, damn it you and mom are always right, and frankly it pisses me off. I remember my Dad laughing so hard, I thought I may need to call an ambulance.

While I did not cry at Toy Story 3, I can say it wasn't because it wasn't worthy of crying at, but that it took a Herculean effort on my part not too.

The scene when they hold hands as they are heading to the incinerator almost got me. I even posted a FB comment that had they been reduced to ashes, I would have boycotted all things Disney. Though the final scene where he drops off the toys was probably where I fought the hardest not to cry.

Personally, it doesn't matter to me what direction you go with the blog. Whatever the subject matter may be, I will read because I find what you write about interesting. I can honestly say, that I have never been disappointed with any of your post.

Well, maybe I will stop reading if you post anything about the Royal Wedding is remotely positive.

Anyway, I am going to keep on reading regardless, I could even live with some politics from time to time.

Finally don't forget about the last sentence in your post. When I am mulling over the choices I have made, the things I have done, and where I want to be in life, I always come back to the same place. I don't give a shit what I may or may not achieve in life as long as I know in my heart that I am the best Dad I can be.

At April 29, 2011 at 10:37 AM , Blogger Joe Clifford said...

Thanks! I woke up to a nasty comment (for "Hate Mail"), and that shit kills me. I swear I'm the most sensitive guy to ever live. Which is funny, I think, because I project something else. Or so I've been told. Anyway, it was a nice balance to read what you wrote. (And, yeah, it was the scene where he dropped off the toys. Fucking killed me. Stupid getting older.)

At April 29, 2011 at 10:39 AM , Blogger Joe Clifford said...

Oh, and ain't a chance in hell I'd post something "positive" about the Royal Wedding. I don't get it (or Jersey Shore or American Idol or about a billion other things people like). I can't image getting up at 4am to watch that crap. It's kinda like Holden Caulfield says in Catcher, about being depressed at the thought of tourists standing in line to see the Rockettes. It's bad enough watching it, but it's the making an effort part that really hits you.

At April 29, 2011 at 10:53 AM , Blogger DSobczak said...

Well can I suggest a really "snarky" post about the Royal Wedding. I have three friends on FB that are Brits. They all sent me messages that they have now hidden me because of my Duke Who Gives a Flying Fuck, post about the wedding.

20 years from now, provided I am still alive. I will take great pride when asked, "Do you know where you were when William and Kate were married" and my response will be, "Of course I do, I was fast asleep."

At April 29, 2011 at 1:34 PM , Blogger troubledwaters said...

Hey, I just realized by your count that you aren't counting my comments as "negative". Asshole.

At April 29, 2011 at 2:03 PM , Blogger Joe Clifford said...

You can't hide the love, Idan ;) (BTW, the punctuation goes INSIDE the quotation marks.)

At April 29, 2011 at 2:19 PM , Blogger troubledwaters said...

I never liked that (rule).

At April 30, 2011 at 12:05 AM , Blogger Greg Kim said...

Mothers will love you. They'll approach you at conferences and say, "Holden is adorable." Then they'll lean in and whisper, "You know, i have a tattoo on my lower back." You may have to learn to craft, though. If you feel you have the time (i know you can write a 1000 words in your sleep), do it.


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