Dear Family and Friends,
“No fair!” That’s one of kids’ (especially Helena’s) favorite responses to either situations that cannot be helped or our rules. Whenever Helena says that, I’m reminded of one of the worst teachers I ever had as a student. He didn’t actually teach me anything beyond this: “There’s no such thing as fair, life isn’t fair, and fairs are in August.” Then again, maybe the worst teacher I ever had was the most prophetic, even if he was just using it as a technique to shut students’ mouths. I laughed when he said it because I was a top student, and I knew that hard work and dedication, along with a bit of creativity, would benefit me so that I’d never have to cry foul or question fate. While 2014 has tested my belief in a middle class version of the American Dream, I still believe that all is for the best in this best of all possible worlds.
The very fact that I’m considering the merits of Voltaire and Leibnitz either indicates Menomonee Falls High School made a huge mistake in not renewing my contract as a teacher or that high school teaching is no longer for me. I’ll take the former and the latter and hopefully move on. Teaching had changed so much during the twelve years I gave it, and I am glad to pass the torch to the next generation of martyrs. That’s all I’ll say, except for this year I really do need someone to help me find that next job because in this best of all possible worlds, I remain unemployed this holiday season. While it might not seem fair, it exists, at least in our generally-accepted plane of reality.
Sometimes we like to say that James enjoys participating in an alternate version of reality himself. He’s developed his own language of Lorgan, earns his own patches in addition to those from being in Cub Scouts, loves maps more than most elementary school kids like potty humor, claims to have roughly one thousand superpowers, and writes scripts and stories for friends. All I can remember caring about in first grade was baseball. Then again, I can also remember riding in the green Malibu Classic as a first grader, driving to drop my sister off at Brownies as the Brewers destroyed the Cardinals in Game 1 of the 1982 World Series. When the Brew Crew ended up losing the series, I ripped down every poster in my room, claiming it wasn’t fair. Dad told me if Milwaukee had won, there would have been sad kids in St. Louis. Besides, the Brewers would have all kinds of chances in the future (just like all those chances he’d seen between 1958 and 1982). In hindsight, St. Louis could have handled a loss. it’s probably better for James that he doesn’t catch Brewer Fever. He does enjoy Cub Scouts, math, and discussing expressway on-ramp design, so he’s working on his engineering degree early.
Helena may not think all of our rules are totally fair, but she still seems to thrive at school (where there are all kinds of rules). Math and English reading are more challenging subjects than she’s dealt with in the past, but she’s working hard to succeed. Helena also had fun playing soccer this spring and fall. She’s fast and just has to work on confidence, whereas James likes to talk to friends during the game and skip around the field. I guess that means Helena is operating in the real world, but we can’t make her a foot taller, so she might eventually be relegated to gymnastics, horse jockeying, or auto racing as favorite sports. Even though I think all of these sports are too dangerous, she likes to do one-handed cartwheels and has not asked for a horse or a car, so we might eventually have to either give in or get her more interested in street names and road construction like her brother.
While we’re on the topic of roads, Zoo Interchange construction near our house has caused the area to become what resembles a war-torn, third-world country, complete with loud noises, heavy machinery, depleted infrastructure, speeding cars, litter, and hot tempers. One of my side projects has become complaining to anyone who might make our street more dangerous. I’m sure most people think I’m some old curmudgeon standing outside in the front yard with my rake waiting for a truck to pass by so I can complain about it, but in reality I’m not that old.
Lisa has been busy both at work and trying to fully recover from last year’s car accident. Luckily, she has received her last appointments and gotten the “Good Enough” rating from her doctors, basically one step above the “We Tried” level of care, which is obviously also better than the more standard “I Dunno.” It has been nice having health insurance at all since it legitimately took me over twenty hours a week for two weeks just to have any coverage, with Obamacare accepting me twice at two different pay levels and Badgercare denying us and then accepting us after Obamacare also denied once.
Lisa said last week that she can’t wait for 2014 to be over. We could certainly look at a lot that went on and say it wasn’t fair. In fact, it was hard to come up with anything to write about that seemed joyousl. It even snowed too much last winter. I even gave up running on vegetable oil because the auto shop kids at the school district that laid me off destroyed the engine of my Suburban. But there is good news, one being that things can’t possibly get worse. Plus, I have added ten books to Amazon, I have worked on an invention and my musical, and I will work on my novel that has been fighting to get out over the last decade. I’m in the middle of my midlife crisis and I didn’t have to buy a convertible (because I already have one I should probably sell), quit my job (because I was fired), or question my family life (because it’s what’s kept me going). Sure, 2014 will not go down as the best year on record for me or Lisa, but it sets the stage for a Horatio Alger-like reversal of fortune through hard work and dedication, especially since the Hamlet-like downward spiral has pretty much run its course, and because someone out there knows someone who wants to hire a web designer, consultant, or educator (Passiveninja.com) or a writer (McNewsy.com or Amazon: Brian Jaeger).
Here’s hoping your 2015 will be as good as ours,
Brian, Lisa, Helena, and James