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Sunday, June 18, 2017

The Wins of the Father

It’s been a year of taking stock and being honest.  I wrote publicly for the first time about having a bad mom – and it’s only fitting to give equal time, here.  I had a great dad.  Those who know me know that I’m not one for eulogizing ugly pasts.  It is, after all, candor about our past that allows us to grow and make a better future.  My father was not a perfect man – but he did the one thing that great fathers do: he passed on what he considered the best parts of him to his son, and did his level best to help him avoid those parts of him that he regrets.  It is this seminal paternal desire that makes me fall apart like a blubbering pile of goo when watching Forrest Gump.  It is that moment where he turns to Jenny and asks if his son is “smart or is he…” Geez, even writing about it chokes me up. 

My father succeeded against long odds.  But this isn’t about the challenges he overcame or the parts of him that he railed against instilling in his first-born son.  This is about what he did give me, and what I hope makes him happy on Father’s Day.  Because I can give my dad a tie or cologne or more tools (he sure does love new tools), but I can give him the peace of mind knowing that he gave me every bit of his greatness and none of the rest of it.

Tenacious D

My father was an unremittingly hard worker, and he expected no less from me, growing up.  He worked nights and weekends and taught me the phrase “whatever it takes” long before I knew what it really meant. There was no suffering of complaint or whining, just go.  This was expectation not motivation.  Anything and everything I wanted was available to me, provided I was willing to work harder than I could ever imagine.  I hear my dad’s voice in my head when I think about complaining about why it hasn’t happened yet, or how tired I might feel.  In fact, I’ve taken to saying the exact same thing to myself: C’mon Glenn!  C’mon, indeed. 

Leading from the Front

My dad never asked me to do anything that he hadn’t done or was willing to do, himself.  He never saw his kids as “free labor” or little household employees.  My dad got his hands dirtier than I ever got mine.  Before he ever said the words, he taught me to lead by example.  I was a broody little shit in high school – so I wonder if my dad ever saw me as a leader. He taught me nevertheless. I like to think I pleasantly surprised him. I use my own adolescence (and subsequent success) as a constant reminder not to judge people by who they are as teenagers – which is something else my pops taught me. 

Judge Not…

There was a fair bit of bigotry in my young life.  It’s hard to describe the normalization of these types of things when you’re “raised” in it.  Before kids had access to the Internet, the world of a young person was profoundly small and the authority of a parent was nearly omniscient.  But despite all that surrounded me, my dad taught me to look to another person’s character to judge them.  He tried to teach me patience – though it’s taken me a few extra decades to figure it out.  My dad watched me go through speech therapy and ADHD back when they just used to call it “hyperactivity” and “Special Ed” – and he never once tried to change me, medicate me or make me feel bad for who I was.  He loved me, and I try to repay his love by loving those same crazy bits about myself. 

Great Expectations

The most important thing my dad gave me, however, was his enduring belief in the great things I was (and am) capable of.  Even though I was the first person in my family to go to college, and then law school and professional practice, he never let me settle for what I had just accomplished.  Don’t get me wrong - he was always vocally and visibly proud of me – but it was always quickly followed by a pointed query as to “so, what’s next?”  My father pushed me relentlessly – famously grounding me for my first scholastic “B” (AP US History, 11th grade – I will never forget the number 88%) – but he did it because he believed I could do more.  And since then, I have.

* * *

There are many kinds of fathers, and the best ones manage to be just the kind their kids need.  Mine was not a nurturer, and he never encouraged me to “go ahead and cry.”  We never had long talks about our emotions or my relationships.  He wasn’t a coach, either.  I can’t recall us having a catch in the backyard, and he didn’t push me to take my narrow butt out to the football/baseball field or basketball court.  What we was, was quietly strong, immensely patient and ceaselessly intolerant of failure.  He is the source of my strength and my motivation.  He’s the reason I can grind and hustle like I do.  Because, like he taught me, it’s not the head start you may or may not have, it’s about how hard you’re willing to work to win the race anyways.

And no one outworks your son, pop.  No one. 

Happy Father’s Day.



Monday, June 12, 2017

43 Things

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So… 43.  It’s time for the eighth annual installment of recording the lessons I’ve learned over the previous year and there were no shortage of “learning experiences” to draw from – so this should go quickly.  Mostly, I’m happy to still be learning lessons at all.  My expectations for middle age cognitive ability have been greatly exceeded – I guess I was wrong about adults when I was younger.  That’s really the most surprising part of 43 – my mind doesn’t feel old; like at all.  A few of my tastes have matured, but I still have lived the majority of my adult life trying to avoid any similarity with a Dockers commercial.  Now my body, that’s a whole ‘nother chicken, as I like to say.  My essential systems have been have been breaking like Trump news on CNN: constantly and with no good explanation.  But thankfully, I still know the capital of Djibouti (it’s Djibouti) and I’m still prone to laughing to keep from crying – so despite the ever-pending disability, here are 43 things I’ve learned:

1.     Age is just a number, but old is not just a word.  It’s real. 
2.     If I would have known how little the adults in charge of me knew back then, I would have been a lot more scared.
3.     I love driving my car, but I hate driving – because people ruin everything.  Except board games. 
4.     I used to think I’d outgrow country dancing.  Nope.
5.     It took me finally embracing my atheism to understand why religion is so important to people – and what it gives them.  For all of you, atheism gives me the same thing.
6.     A good job requires taking on daily challenges; a great job requires doing it with a team of amazing people.
7.     In a world of constant exhibition, candid moments are the most valuable currency.
8.     You can reliably measure your age with the amount you’re willing to spend on concert tickets. 
9.     Three reasons to avoid an otherwise great nightclub: All. Ages. Night.
10.  Family is everything. 
11.  Not everyone’s family is made of blood relatives.  But, still - See #10.
12.  Why am I such a geek?  Recent technology has allowed me to neither step foot in a Walmart or ride in a taxicab in the last two years.  #Winning  
13.  The two least attractive words you can say to a woman at 43: “want kids.”
14.  You can definitely be too good at some things – like taking selfies… or Tinder. 
15.  If you see me in a nightclub on the Strip and I’m not with a client or family, call security, because I’ve been kidnapped. 
16.  Dating gets exponentially weirder the longer you do it.
17.  Intellectual snobbery is bad.  Ignorance snobbery is much, much worse.
18.  Every man owes himself a custom suit.
19.  For the first time in my life, I was embarrassed to be an American.  I’m finding my way back watching people respond to the same feeling.
20.  Back rubs are getting so important to me, I might start trolling massage schools for marriage prospects. 
21.  It always pays to be nice.  At first.
22.  We need a method of resolving disputes somewhere between fist fights and litigation.  Maybe it involves slapping.
23.  Parents of noisy children shouldn’t be chastised unless their kids are old enough to understand what “Shut the *&# up” means. 
24.  You don’t “have style”, you “have a style” – if you don’t know the difference, neither applies to you.
25.  The most important part of sexy is confidence.  The most important part of love is vulnerability. 
26.  It’s terrible to know something before you want to know it.  But you can’t un-know things.
27.  It’s not that there are world leaders that are younger than I am that makes me feel old, it’s that I’m happy about it.
28.  The cost-benefit analysis of very spicy food has finally been finally resolved in the “don’t do it” position.
29.  Butt implants are never ok.
30.  There is no greater accomplishment than to motivate someone.
31.  Three foolproof ways to tell how old a woman is: her hands, her neck and her willingness to order wine anywhere.
32.  A high EQ is far more valuable than a high IQ – and we should teach children with that in mind. 
33.  I don’t know what the age is where you stop wanting to try new things – but I know it’s not 43.
34.  Honorifics are important and should be used liberally – especially “Coach”, “Doctor” and “Captain”.
35.  The most important members of your team are the ones who are nothing like you.
36.  No matter how bad it gets, there is no excuse for not caring what goes on in the world around you.
37.  We all deserve better representatives in government. 
38.  Honesty is not always the best policy.  Unless you’re under oath – then it totally is.
39.  The only wrong direction to go in is in no direction at all.  Turning (even around) is easier than starting. 
40.  Take time to talk to kids.  The pivotal moments in your young life were likely not nearly as important to the adults involved as they were to you. 
41.  If you’re on a date, order dessert.  Every time.  Life’s too short not to get the damned cake.
42.  Fail constantly.  Nothing great comes from staying comfortable and not taking chances.
43.  The only way to guarantee your legacy is to write it yourself.

So, that’s another chapter in mine.  Thank you all for sticking around; laughing and crying with me.  Here’s to a great 43 and a year of lessons to tell you about next summer.

Saturday, December 31, 2016

Sixteen Things I Learned in 2016


By most measures, it’s been a shitbox of a year.  I know, I know – that’s popular sentiment and there were plenty of good things that happened this year, and you’re right – a preponderance of dead celebrities does not a disaster make.  But let’s be honest, for every good thing you can think of, you can think of a dozen terrible things.  We are a country divided – and there is a pending dread that’s simply hard to shake.  That’s why New Year’s Eve is my favorite holiday.  Despite the mind-numblingly intense schmaltz that is New Years in Las Vegas, there is simply no other holiday which generates greater optimism than the start of the new year.  Every culture and every place celebrates the new year – even if not at the same time or even on the same day.  We mark our own lives by celestial trips around the sun and regardless of how arbitrary it may be in the cosmic sense of things, we take this opportunity to do two very important things: reflect and hope.  It is in the spirit of those things that I’d like to avoid simply listing past catastrophes and, rather, take stock of the sixteen most important things I learned this year:

1.    A high EQ is dramatically more valuable than a high IQ.  However, having too little of either will usually spell disaster.
2.     No one reads enough.
3.   If we’re going to universally get rid of shaming, we should first figure out some way to incentivize people to stop being stupid.
4.     It’s always about the relationships.
5.    Fighting, whether in business, your personal life or in general, is a terrible idea and almost always solves nothing.
6.   That said, there are some people whose only hope for redemption is a good ass-whuppin’ (and tragically, they are usually highly unlikely to receive it).
7.   Karma is bullshit.  Evil people keep getting away with evil and good people keep getting stomped.  There is no cosmic ledger that’s balancing.  Make your own "karma."
8.   People care as little about my atheism as I do about their religion.  But if they’re going to recruit – so am I. 
9.     Fortune favors the well-prepared.  Always.
10.  Forgiveness is our greatest capacity as humans – and we don’t use it enough.
11.  It’s better to be with no one than the wrong one.
12.  I can’t decide which two words are more frightening “post truth” or “fake news” – I think I’ll just go with “President Trump.”
13.  There is absolutely no virtue in a lack of education.  None.  That said, there is also no shame in it.
14.  No matter what your preferences, the two universally sexy things are confidence and fitness.  Everything else is subjective.
15.  Plenty of things are worth getting angry over, but precious few of them are worth staying angry over.  Three very important words:  Let.  It.  Go.
16.  Life is tragically short.  Time is our only real commodity.  What and who you spend it on is your only real opinion.  So, keep an eye on the clock tonight… and spend wisely in 2017.

Happy New Year, Everyone.    

Sunday, June 19, 2016

25 Things; A Note to My 17 Year Old Self.



Dear Glenn,

My how the years have gone.  To be honest, as long as a quarter century seems, seventeen seems like much longer ago than a simple two and a half decades.  In that time, you went from a geek to well, good-looking geek, and from an unsure and late-blooming adolescent to a Naval Academy graduate, submariner, Stanford lawyer and the owner of a great law firm – oh and you’re also living in Las Vegas.  Yes, seriously.  But here’s the thing: it wasn’t easy.  In fact, it was nearly unbearable.  You and I both know that despite our hard candy shell, we can get pretty worked up about stuff – and boy, did we.  Now, I’m not so na├»ve to think that it all would have ended up the same had it not been difficult.  After all, we know that it takes iron to make steel – but, I’ve also spent a lot of days looking back and wishing we had done a few things differently. 

Interestingly, for the past seven years, we’ve been writing down the lessons we’ve learned; mostly as catharsis (by the way, our vocabulary has gotten fantastic), and a little bit of laughing to keep from crying, but also as a way of communicating, connecting and entertaining the precious few people you’ve gotten close with.  But, this is a new tradition, a letter looking 25 years back, to you, because as good as things got, and a few regrets as we have, I’d love for you to know a few things:

1.     Start writing earlier.  Turns out you do have something to say, and people are really going to love it.
2.     Stop writing poetry.  Immediately.  It’s awful, and you’d rather people find a picture of you naked (at this age) than any poems you wrote.
3.     You’re an atheist, and you’ve known it (already) for more than five years.  It’s ok, be brave and tell people.  Waiting twenty more years to stop “fake praying” isn’t being kind or considerate, it’s being cowardly.
4.     No one hates you.  No one even dislikes you as much as you think.  Being popular is overrated – be awesome, it lasts much longer.
5.     Stop dancing in private (i.e. the basement) – and get to the dance floor.  You’re going to be great at it, and just because one kid shoved you at a school dance doesn’t mean you don’t belong out there.  That kid amounted, literally, to nothing.  You’ve won more dance contests and danced with more pretty girls than you’ll ever be able to count. 
6.     You’ll forgive almost every bully from Centaurus.  Except James Richmond – because fuck that guy. 
7.     While we’re at it, go take a swing at James.  He’s not as tough as he seems, and believe me, he won’t be expecting it. 
8.     Go back to soccer.  You’ll regret not getting a Varsity letter, even if it took you all four years.
9.     Join the Math Club earlier.  Who cares if it’s lame?  Math is going to save your life.  Trust me.
10.  Brush and floss.  You’re going to invest in braces (because Mom & Dad couldn’t afford them), and it’s going to be great, but root canals and crown suck.
11.  Stop fighting with your mom.  No, it doesn’t get any better with the two of you, but it’s not worth fighting over.  You’re going to skip her funeral. 
12.  Be nicer to your little sister.  She’ll be the only real family you have.  She turns out to be your biggest fan and the only person you can count on when everything else goes to hell.
13.  Also, stop creeping on her friends (you’ve got no shot) and ask for advice on what to wear, how to cut your hair and how to dance.  She’s way ahead of you on all of these.
14.  Ask someone to the prom.  No, Jennifer Rizzuto isn’t even a possibility, and you’re not going to go with a cheerleader.  But, there are plenty of girls who would love to be your date, and you’ll always regret skipping it. 
15.  Charles is a better guy than you can possibly imagine.  Stay closer to him – he’s got more figured out than you think.  (Yes, his family is exactly as awesome as they seem)
16.  Stop praying to be “average” – we both know that wouldn’t make you happy.  Keep dreaming big; it all comes around.      
17.  Try out for football.  You won’t make the team, and you’ll get destroyed, but once you get into shape (and trust me, we do) you’ll wish you put the pads on, at least once.
18.  Apologize to Katey; you were being an ass.  She stays beautiful (25 years and counting) and brilliant; and you like her more than you want to admit.  Ask her out, already.
19.  Kiss Hope at Math Day.
20.  Don’t tutor cheerleaders with math homework – you’re right, they are using you. 
21.  Hug your dad more.  Turns out he was right about almost everything, and when he says he’s proud of you, he means it.
22.  You will never have better spaghetti than you have at The Blue Parrot.  Ever.
23.  Don’t run for Student Council.  You get killed, it’s embarrassing and you’ll have another shot at law school (which you’ll win).
24.  Stop looking for a place to “fit in” – we never find one, and that’s exactly how it should be.
25.  Your life is tremendous, so stop thinking about ending it.  You’ll get close a few more times, but you’ll always have someone close to you remind you that people love and care for you and that despite the setbacks, you’re going to do great things.

That’s it for now, young man.  It’s going to be a big year, so get back to work – and when you think about driving Terry to Taco Bell to pick up a quick snack during lunch, maybe skip that trip.

                                                                                    Sincerely,

                                                                                    42-year-old Glenn

PS – Tell your dad to invest in Apple stock.       

Saturday, June 18, 2016

42 Things



So…here, we are, on the occasion of forty-two years of sunrises, sunsets, summer and smiles.  This year’s installment marks seven years of keeping track of lessons learned and remembering to laugh, if for no other reason than to save from crying.  Forty-two isn’t a particular sexy number, which seems oddly apropos, because it’s certainly not a particularly sexy age.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m aging with all the style and grace of a Fail Army video, but still, it’s a fight that no one has ever won – Mother Nature and Father Time are still undefeated.  The best you can hope for is to take the fight into extra innings, and you can rest assured, I will absolutely ride this train until the wheels fall off (and even then, I’ll find a decent orthopedist to sew them back on).  In the meantime, there are plenty of lessons to be learned, and if these lists are nothing more, they are a reminder of my lifelong commitment to keep learning, and to remember that no matter how much I do manage to pack into this mind and body, there will always be a great deal more that I missed than that I actually got to do, be, understand, experience or know.  And so, with that in mind, and certainly having exhausted your appetite for self-indulgent introductions, here are 42 Things That I’ve Learned:

1.     There are more years between now and 65 than there are between 21 and now… And thinking back to how far I’ve come since 21, I’ve got plenty of time left.
2.     The Venn diagram of things that look good versus things that are good has a whole lot less overlap than I used to think.
3.     Everyone’s online life is a lie.  The beauty of real life is just how ugly it is.
4.     Ignorance is not an immutable trait, which is why we should never celebrate it.
5.     If your argument for anything has the words “Jesus” or “God” in them – you do not have an argument; you have a belief, which should absolutely be kept to yourself.
6.     If wealth and intelligence were complementary traits, college professors wouldn’t dress like hobos.  Most money is dumb money.
7.     I’ve determined the sexiest part of a woman’s body is her brain… with a three-way tie for second place.
8.     Flattery is like fashion: it’s best when it’s personal, it costs less than you think and nothing will make you look better to those around you.   
9.     The two least attractive words you can say to a woman at 42 are: “Never married.” 
10.  The great secret to business is nothing you’ll learn in Business School or in any school for that matter: it’s relationships, stupid. 
11.  In the social media era, we’ve never said more, and never meant any of it less.
12.  The success of any minority in obtaining rights, recognition and equality is not when they march in the streets, but when they no longer have to.
13.  I am wholly unequipped to interact with partisans in the “post-truth” era.  Turns out I really only have one club in the bag, and if facts and/or reason can’t get you to challenge your beliefs, congratulations, you found a way to be permanently stupid. 
14.  Fitness never goes out of style.
15.  Your jeans, however, always do. 
16.  The older I get, the more that Eagles lyrics make sense.
17.  There’s very little that I admire more in a person than their ability to be their true selves. 
18.  No matter what people tell you, they never get over their old crushes.  You got that, Katey?
19.  It took me over forty years to say it publicly – but I don’t believe in God.  At all.  I believe in people.  Like you.  And me.
20.  If you ever wonder if you should wear something, you shouldn’t.  Especially that hat. 
21.  Your faith isn’t ridiculous, but your religion absolutely is.  No matter which one. 
22.  When women say they won’t date an overweight man, they’re being confident, when a man says he won’t date an overweight woman, he’s being a body-shaming, woman-hating troll who should obviously die alone.  #Equality.
23.  Speaking of hashtags – that’s how lazy we’ve gotten, we can’t even be bothered to derive subtext - #WeNeedSomeoneToDoItForUs.
24.  Motherhood is not a magic wand – it doesn’t make you a good person, smarter or confer any special knowledge on you.  It’s only evidence of a functioning uterus.  Which is about as special as not being bald. 
25.  It’s not about being beautiful – it’s about owning your ugly beautifully. 
26.  When your childhood heroes start dying, you start realizing that you were your own hero, all along. 
27.  Watching my college classmates get command is a solid reminder that even the least promising twenty-year-olds can turn out fucking spectacular.  Maybe there’s hope for millennials, after all. 
28.  We’ve done a great job of creating universal shame for bigotry and ignorance – unfortunately, at the same time we also became completely universally shameless.
29.  Jenny McCarthy is responsible for more needless childhood deaths than any other person alive today – and not only is she free, she won’t even apologize. 
30.  I have never seen any woman, of any age, ever, get excited in any way by a revved engine.  Yet, somehow, every douchenozzle I come across continues to use this as their primary mating call.
31.  Only people with insane and unreasonable opinions even whine about not being “judged” for them – the rest of us are happily judged for what we believe in.
32.  The existence of multiple arguments does not make them equally valid or deserving of “equal time.”
33.  There has never been a better or more compelling case for the Electoral College (or any “republic” function of our democracy) than the 2016 elections.  Anyone who trusts public consensus hasn’t spent much time in “public.”
34.  The American distinction between marijuana and alcohol represents the single most effective PR campaign in modern history. 
35.  The older I get, the exponentially less poorly I feel about going to bed early. 
36.  No matter what else you do, or are or have done (cure cancer, save orphans, give to charity, etc.), if you’re a bigot – that’s all you are.
37.  I can forgive people doing almost any terrible thing – unless they do it to children, then fuck you. 
38.  Life is bad for your body – but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t live it.  What are you saving up for?  Your second go round? 
39.  Believing in some of medicine is like in some of astronomy.  Like, I’m cool with Mars and Venus – but Mercury is bullshit (I read it on the Internet). 
40.  Finishing any level of school should not be called “graduation” unless there’s a reasonable chance you might not have finished it.  Ya got that, 8th graders?!
41.  Generosity is giving to people to need it most and who expect it least.
42.  There is nothing more important, more difficult or more valuable than simply showing up. 

Here’s to those who keep showing up - see you next year, kids.