“I always thought of kids as being simple in a way. I knew that having a child would be challenging, but I underestimated how complicated their emotions can be. I thought I’d have greater influence over my child’s mood. I imagined that I’d be able to make him happy when he’s unhappy. I hoped that I would always have a solution. But you learn quickly that some unhappiness doesn’t have a quick fix. And often it’s just part of who he is. And that can be painful to accept. Sometimes I just have to provide as much guidance as possible, and trust that he’ll find comfort within himself.”
“My mom and I have always been close. But we had to learn how to communicate again after my dad died. It took therapy. We’d stopped being honest with each other. My dad’s illness had been so stressful that we didn’t want to create any additional worries. So we tried to protect each other. Neither of us would admit if we were having a bad day. Or if we were feeling depressed. The answer to everything was always: ‘I’m fine.’ But we weren’t fine. And it was obvious. So we worried about each other all the time. It caused a lot of stress and arguments. We had to relearn how to admit when we were having a bad day. Because you can never truly know if someone's 'fine' unless you trust them to tell you when something's wrong."
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“I like watching her get excited about things. She has a very distinct look when amazement comes over her face. Like she gets really excited about dachshunds. I always text her pictures of dachshunds. Or the tile work at the 81st street subway station. She loves that. Or warm socks. I mean… warm socks are kind of exciting to me. But she really loves warm socks.”
“Last year I started figure modeling for art classes. I’m plus-sized, so I was a little worried about being nude. I was nervous about everyone seeing my stomach, and my thighs, and all my fat. But apparently my curves are fun to draw. In the classroom, all the features I saw as negative were viewed as assets. One student told me that it’s no fun to draw straight lines. It’s been liberating for me. I’ve always been insecure about my belly. But now my belly has been part of so many beautiful pieces of art.”
“I felt like sometimes she didn’t want me born. I was like Cinderella—even though I was a dude. She blamed me for everything. Maybe it’s because I was ugly, I guess. Girls were all running from me. My brothers were better looking. When I grew older, it was all about money. Mom and I never discussed anything personal. It seemed like she always wanted something from me. One time I called her crying, because I was trying to quit marijuana, and I felt really depressed. She just told me: ‘You’re wasting all that money on weed. You could be giving it to me instead.” She used to cash my student loan checks. One time she even used my social security number to get a credit card, and I didn’t even know until I got the bill. So I detached myself from her. I stopped answering the phone. Then two years ago she called to tell me she had cancer, and she needed an operation, but I didn’t even answer the phone. I thought she was tricking me again. She left a message, it said: ‘Michael, I’ve been trying to get a hold of you. I love you. And I know you love me.’ And I just ignored it. And she died. And I’m haunted by that. I’ve been trying to write about my life lately, but I can’t get past my mother. I wish I could just start my story with that phone call. With her saying that she loved me. The only other time I ever felt love from her was when I tried crack cocaine. I was a teenager, and I had been using for a couple weeks, and I went in her room to ask for baking soda. She started crying, and she looked scared, and she said: ‘Michael, why do you need baking soda?’ And I felt love at that moment. And it was so strong that I quit doing crack right then. I never used again. I didn’t go to a program or anything. That’s how strong that feeling was.”
“When the last kid left for college, it came to a point where it was just pretense. And I couldn’t hide it anymore. I was tired of worrying if people suspected, or if they’d find out, or if they’d still care about me if they knew. The first person I came out to was my wife. It was wrenching. It was the end of our marriage. I just kept telling her I was sorry. I think she felt abandoned. And I’m sorry for that. I also think she felt that our life together was a lie. But I don’t see it that way. We were a family. We had four wonderful children that we raised to adulthood. And those are facts. I’m not happy about the hurt I caused. But I feel authentic now. I regret the things I did, but I’m so happy about what I’ve done.”
“My father wants me to come home to Botswana. He tells me that he’s getting older and he needs me to come home. I miss my family, but I want to stay here. Life is different for me here. I’ve met so many people from so many cultures. I’ve done half marathons. I even did a triathlon. It’s different back in Botswana. I was completely dependent on my father. Women don’t leave home until they get married. So I’d like to stay here. But my sister is the only family that I have in America. And last week she told me that she’s moving back to Botswana. So now I’ll be on my own. And I’m worried. Because I don’t like to ask for help. But I never had a problem asking her for help. And now I won’t have that anymore. But a few months ago I joined something at my church called a ‘connect group.’ And now I have so many friends. They are like my sisters. We have brunches, and dinners, and go hiking. I feel very loved by them. So I’m hoping they will be like my family.”
It’s that time of the year. Drummers are drumming. Angels are harking. And the fourth annual HONY For The Holidays is upon us! Every holiday season we try to connect people in New York City who would like to share a holiday meal. Why? Because nothing is worse than being alone on Christmas or Hanukkah. Maybe you can’t afford to go home. Maybe home is too far away. Or maybe home isn’t much of a home at all. It doesn’t matter. If you are going to be alone over the holidays-- send us an email. We’ll match you up with somebody who has an extra seat at the table. And if you DO have a gathering planned, consider making room for one more. We need a host for every guest. So if you have a place to go this Christmas, please consider sharing your good fortune. As always, matches are approved by guests and hosts before anyone is connected. So there are no surprises. If you are interested in participating, please email: honyfortheholidays@gmail.com ------------------------ Indicate in the subject line whether you’d like to be a GUEST or HOST. GUESTS: Please share a little bit about yourself and why you are interested in joining HONY for the Holidays. Be sure to include your residing neighborhood, how far you are willing to travel, any dietary restrictions, and which day you are looking for holiday plans (the 24th or 25th). HOSTS: Please share a little bit about yourself and the gathering you will be hosting. Also be sure to include which day and time you will be hosting a gathering, how many "seats" you have available to guests, the type of meal you will be serving (ie meat, vegetarian), and where you are located. --------------------------- Important Note: Founder, CEO, and Chairman of The Board for HONY For The Holidays is my wife Erin-- who does everything. I just try to write a clever promotion.
“I’m scared to go back to work. I just called out someone in front of a large group of people. I just wouldn’t let it go. I should have taken it offline, but I had to be right. I could have stepped back, watched the movie version of myself, and seen how my behavior was being seen by the people around me. But no--- I just couldn’t let it go. My therapist would be so upset with me right now. I almost went home, but there was a woman taking a diarrhea shit on the train platform. So I think God, who I don’t even believe in, is telling me that I need to go back to the office and figure this out.”
"I'm not sure if people have become less interesting, or if I'm just less interested in people."
“We didn’t expect to be raising our granddaughter. We used to talk about moving to the country when we retired. Now we talk about moving to the best school districts. I’m working as much as I can. I worry every day that something will happen to us before she’s grown. I’m going to the gym more. I’m trying to stay healthy. I’m enrolled in a special savings program for her college education. I’ve been adding money to it since the day she was born. Because if something happens to me, the amount doubles.”
“All the bosses care about is getting the job done. So if you have a good work ethic, the work falls on you more. The bosses know that it’s easier to push a good worker than it is to get a bad worker to do their job. It’s the path of least resistance. Especially when the boss happens to be friends with the bad workers. It used to really bother me. I couldn’t stand the injustice of it. But I’ve had to learn to let it go. I was bringing the stress home with me. I’d get mad at little things and slam drawers. I was even having rage dreams. I abhor violence, but I was having dreams where the boss would criticize my work and my hands would go around his neck. So I had to learn to let it go. I used to really care about the job. But I’ve had to just start viewing it as a paycheck.”
“My ninety-year-old mother just moved in with us. So I’ve become a full time caretaker. I’m all she’s got. My father passed away and I’m her only child. So I’m it. Right now she has a lot of negativity. She seems to fixate on the negative side of things. If I suggest going outside, she’ll say it’s too cold. If I suggest that we go shopping, she’ll say there’s too much traffic. She wants her independence, but when she has it, she gets lonely. It’s hard for me. Because I’m a positive person by nature. And it’s hard to deal with so much negative energy. My husband is worried about me. He thinks it’s too much to deal with. I have a family, a life, and a business. But I’d be even more of a wreck if I put her in assisted living. I need to know for sure that she’s getting the proper care. Because for all her negativity, my mother always taught us respect. Respect your toys. Respect your parents. Respect other people. Respect their property. Respect is the basis for everything. Without it, everything falls apart."
“My grandmother got me a violin when I was thirteen. Whenever people were fighting, and I wanted to get away, I’d just go in my room and play. Sometimes I’d play for four or five hours per night. It gave me a lot of confidence. I started playing in front of the church, in front of the school--- it made me feel good about myself. But my mom struggled a lot. She made a lot of mistakes. She got in some bad relationships and we lived in a lot of different places. Sometimes we’d go weeks without having power. One time it got really bad and we had to start selling our stuff. She didn’t ask me to sell my violin. But we’d already sold our TV. And she just asked if I had any ideas. I ended up selling it to a friend for $145. I was really upset for a while. I’m a Christian, and God knew how much I loved the violin. So I was confused why he’d make me sell it. For a few months, I tried to keep playing in the music room at school. But eventually I had to stop so I could focus on paying the bills. I got a real job at the grocery store.”
“I thought I was going to work until I died. But they came in and told me that I was too old and that I didn’t know the computer. They thought I was obsolete. If that’s true—then how did I get so far without the computer? I’ve got that computer in my head. I can design the whole process. I can start with a blank sheet of paper and cycle the whole line: the robots, the tooling, everything. That was my life. At night when I go to sleep, I’m still building welding lines. There were only 1800 of us in this town that could do it. And each of us had our own style. People could recognize Norm Szewsky’s work. But you know what happened? They took all 1800 of our brains, and they put them in a computer. So now a guy who don’t know nothing can just press a button, and out comes a clamp. Oh well, I don’t really give a shit. I’m checking out soon.”
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