Showing posts with label Fred Stevens. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Fred Stevens. Show all posts

Thursday, November 1, 2018

We are all 50 now

We're all 50 now.

I find a bit of freedom with turning 50. I can finally be an adult. Make no mistake about it. I am a seasoned vet and feel free to come to me if you're looking for wisdom.

An unexpected byproduct of October 2018 is that I have vicariously turned 50. Now, I know my birth certificate says I was born in 1973, but I don't care. I'm 50!

Cue former Saturday Night Liver Molly Shannon, who happens to be from Cleveland and whom I bumped into once outside a Rite Aid in Larchmont Village with her daughter. I'm 50!

It happened so fast. Youth, where have you gone?

Earlier in the month, I realized a coworker was turning 50, and to me, that's a cause for celebration — or at least something. We did a cake and sang, even though we're avant garde English teachers and normally don't do that type of thing. We are too cool for this as we await the cultural revolution and a nationwide return to poetry. Presumably, that would happen at Wal-Mart.

A week after, I realized my long-time Press-Telegram comrade Don Jergler was turning 50. I went to Don's wedding nine years ago and his baby's shower, and I've had many cocktails with him over the years. But the only thought I had was, "Oh, wow, Don's fifty?!?"

Then, in my world, the biggest 50 of them all came on Oct. 25, when my brother officially turned it. Wonderful, and incredible, Judi threw a surprise party for him previous week, and I flew into Cleveland to surprise him, somehow wrestle the microphone from him and give him several male embraces. Holy, moly, we're all 50.

If that weren't enough, on the next day, my wife's cousin's wife (got that?) turned 50, and we like her quite I bit. We went to her wedding a few years ago in Minnesota and her to ours. How much more evidence do we need? We're all 50!
Due to society's conventions, I am not allowed to discuss a woman's age and/or weight, and I will not do that with my beloved Dina. However, if I'm 50, she's 50. We're all 50 now.

I feel a sense of freedom to turn this age. I'm still working, but, honestly, retirement isn't too far off. In 15 years, I'll have Medicare. Yes! Also, I may just stay stuck at 50 for the next 10 years and then jump to 60. Why be so picky with all of these other years?

People say things like, "Age is a state of mind" or "You're only as old as you feel." I guess, but why is it so wrong to be a little bit older and be 50? Why do I have to hide this?

During the first year of this blog, back on New Year's Eve 2009, I felt old when Replacements frontman Paul Westerberg turned 50. I was surprised he was hitting that age and was living a bit of a suburban life at the time. I used to think "We are the sons of no one, bastards of young!" Well, that would make us young, too, then. Right?

There certainly is a double standard with being a 50-year-old sophisticated gentleman as opposed to a 50-year-old woman. That's absolutely unfortunate, but I do know that I am excited to enter my fifth decade. I hope to keep aging with grace.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

A Celebration of "X"

The party is on!

Today is an especially meaningful day in my world as my father, the XMan, would have turned 70: 12-12-17. My mom is having a get-together to celebrate his life and our connection to him at his favorite restaurant, Mallorca, in downtown Cleveland.

Holiday. Celebrate. It's a celebration, and that's what certainly would have happened had he been here.

Ten years ago, the family also celebrated his birthday at Mallorca, and I came in from California without him knowing. I have an incredible memory with how excited and happy he was to see me along with our family and friends.

It's been a long haul, to say the least, with recovering and dealing with his passing in Feb. 2011. Anyone can read numerous posts on this blog and see the raw pain and mourning that transpired. Gut-wrenching. If anyone feels the need to go there, various posts on this blog will take you to that pain.

But I don't feel the need to go there today. I count my lucky stars that I have found my soulmate, Dina, and that my girls are growing into kind and caring individuals. I got a killer house and am into my education career more than ever nowadays. I am counting my blessings and would love to celebrate my dad and life with some tasty Mallorca paella.
What does it mean to be human? Well, death is certainly a part of life, and it's foolish to pretend that doesn't exist. Anyone who met the XMan quickly understood what a unique individual he was. Eccentric. Hilarious. Kind. Glorious. Polish. Mustachioed. Emotional. Hell, I'd love him even if he weren't my father.

But he was, and always will be, my dad. I guess I just thank the cosmos that I got to spend 37 years of my life with him. Gratitude. Maybe the best way to think about today, and all days, is that I was lucky to have him in my life in the flesh and now in spirit.

Saturday, December 12, 2015

I'll be home for Christmas

Happy birthday, XMan.

My father would have turned 68 today, had he not passed away in Hilton Head, S.C., in 2011. Phew, man, it's been a long haul to get here, and practically anybody who has lost someone close realizes that an outpouring of memories surfaces around the holidays.

So on my father's birthday, I am writing about a few things I've discovered during my years without him. With the holiday season in full swing, I will be listening to holiday music in the background while sipping on a holiday-spiced coffee. The song that happens to be playing now figures. It's the Bing Crosby classic I'll Be Home for Christmas performed by Lady Antebellum.

I'll be home for Christmas
You can plan on me

One of the biggest things I've learned with my father gone is that, by and large, people don't care. I dutifully press the "like" button on Facebook when friends remember their loved ones. Sometimes, I even comment. But do I really care?

It's really hard to care if you never met the person. If you happen to read this, chances are you either met the XMan and loved the guy, or you are substituting your own loved one with the XMan and applying it to your own experience. Right?

Please have snow and mistletoe
And presents on the tree

Another important thing I've seen is that tragedies are all around us. I used to try to quantify tragedies. "Wow, my dad's unexpected death shocked us all and hurt us, but your husband's death at 42 was..."

The numerical ranking of tragedies is simply stupid. People learn to get through their grief and learn how to live the life they want to lead, even though they face enormously difficult and painful situations. This is called life.

Christmas eve will find me
Where the love light gleams

I loved my dad immensely, and I wouldn't have traded our relationship for anything. But I do understand that I can't live in the past. We can only live in the moment.

This year, I'm especially happy because I'm engaged to the woman I love. We had Thanksgiving together and will be with my 10-year-old daughter, Sophie, and 8-year-old daughter, Chloe, on Christmas. This will be the first Christmas since my divorce in which I will have a Christmas morning scenario in my own home with the woman I love.

I'll be home for Christmas

Aw, man, the holidays bring up so many feelings and memories that I can't help but think back to some of the great times I had with the XMan. He gave out gag gifts to extended family every year. He once carved the holiday ham topless — but with an apron. He and my mom even got my brother and me Atari in 1981!

He was da man. I miss him. Yes, I have a fantasy to have him drop in this Christmas. But with all due respect, Sir Isaac Asimov, that type of thought is science fiction.

Ah, the holidays get emotions stirring, as does this freaking remake of Bing Crosby's I'll Be Home for Christmas. Perhaps you've noticed something about Bing's classic. But if not, I must point out that the last line changes the whole song.

I used to think I'll Be Home for Christmas was a straightforward holiday tune without nuance, kind of like Jingle Bells. Someone is coming home. Yeah! Get the egg nog going. Holiday time. Yes! But, oh no, the last line changes everything.

I'll Be Home for Christmas is really a homage to Christmases past. It's a nostalgic tune with a hint of fantasy and sadness. This dude ain't coming home. At least, that's how I understand this song and its beautiful five-word final line:

If only in my dreams

Monday, February 16, 2015

Just like daddy

"Father, where do babies come from?"

"Daddy, what is the Ku Klux Klan?

Every so often, a parent may face a difficult question, and the other day, I faced this doozie from Chloe: "Daddy, can I start a blog?"

At first glance, that could have been a tough thing to answer. But I quickly realized that it would be no problem to help Chloe get a blog titled Chloe Stevens' Blog on Tumblr.

Chloe has done four entries, and she put a brief video in her last one. Her entries may be even more innovative than the Snooze Button Generation. What!?

I know of no other 7-year-olds with blogs, and as she writes about finding flowers, her school day, pull-apart erasers and Hollywood, it is a way to show what life is like for a second grader in 2015.

Of course, Chloe may be no normal second grader. She has extremely high social and emotional intelligences for a girl of her age, and she has an excellent grasp of empathy and sympathy. She exhibits strengths in categories of well-being that I have learned are exceptionally important.

Chloe's 9-year-old sister, Sophie, is no slouch, either. Sophie's mind is a sponge, and it seems like she remembers everything. I especially like Sophie's penchant for art and music and that she is a meticulous student. I have suggested that she should do a blog, too.

The major problem I find with blogs, though, is that they are often short-lived or erratic. One positive about the Snooze Button Generation is that it has been around since August 2009. It started out with numerous fun 'n' ridiculous entries in 2009, having 69 posts in the final five months of the year and then 93 entries in 2010.

However, in a stark tone shift, the blog hit a major obstacle exactly four years ago today, when my dad, the XMan, passed away on Feb. 16, 2011. Each year on this date I've done a blog in remembrance of him, and this year is a slight deviation because of the focus on Chloe's blog.

The XMan is connected to the blog thing because he loved the Snooze Button Generation. In fact, I learned that he printed out the entries and kept them in a large envelope. He always supportive of me. That's how he was.

My plans are to continue to write entries for the Snooze Button Generation but only about once a month — at the minimum. I may do more if necessary. But right now, I am equally excited about Chloe Stevens' Blog.

We shall see how long Chloe sticks with the blog, and whatever she does, I will support her. That's how I am.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Who am I to blow against the wind?

How am I supposed to feel on Father's Day? Sadness is a conventional answer. But others might say happiness because I will be with Sophie and Chloe today, and they are my happy pills. As a human being, my feelings are much more complex than that.

Miraculously, this is my third Father's Day without the XMan, and I majorly miss him. I've heard that time heals all wounds, and I have accepted the fact that he is gone. However, the XMan's death was my personal "tsunami," and anyone who's had a true profound loss may have an inkling of the overwhelming involuntary feelings one might have on, say, Father's Day.

One thing that tears me up is my newfound addiction to golf and the fact that I can't play with him. I guess every round I play, and every stroke I take, is a homage to him. I've advanced enough in the sport to play bogey golf, and there are a handful of things I do on the course that he did exactly.

One of those things is to frequently say the phrase, "Roll your buns off." I also harpoon the flag stick off the green, if anyone takes it out and leaves it on the green. I also make a crude comparison if I ever see a player putting with a golf glove.
So what is going on is that I am spending my third Father's Day without a father, even though he would be only 65 today. Obviously, the possibility of this occurring three years ago never entered my thoughts because the idea of it would be outrageous.

I spent 12 years going to Catholic school and numerous masses, and like approximately 95 percent of the people I know in my demographic, I don't go to Church now and can't accept the Catholic church's antiquated social positions. I have no clear-cut answer of what I believe in regards to spirituality, but I do live by my Jesuit high school's motto: "Men for others."

The XMan is with me everyday. If you want to call that spirituality, that is fine, and I understand that all of us have deal with things we don't want to. I am only one of 7 billion people on this planet. Who am I to blow against the wind?

Thursday, February 16, 2012

The Father of Garfield Heights

The worst year of my life ends today as I reflect on the unexpected and painful loss of the XMan.

One year ago today, the XMan passed away from a heart attack in Hilton Head, S.C. Time got funky for me when I heard the news. For some incomprehensible reason, I vividly recall every detail of the hour before hearing the news and the hour after. Who knew the hour before would remain so vivid?

The good news about today's date is that my mother has succeeded with her first step to some sort of recovery: She has survived the year.

Yeah, I'm not very religious, but the majority of the members of the Snooze Button Generation aren't either. Most SBG members are "spiritual not religious." I guess I'm that.

This entire XMan fiasco has made me realize there is much more in the world than meets the eye. I do not exactly know what the heck is beyond the human mind and physical world, but something is there. We are limited as humans. Right?

Something else I've realized is that heaven exists.Heaven is being a 10-year-old boy with a 15-year-old brother, beating the heat of a humid Cleveland summer by hanging out in our basement and playing APBA baseball. At about 6 p.m., the XMan would come home, get out of a suit and have dinner with the family. We'd then play APBA, or other games, until we had to go to bed. I can hardly think of a better way to spend a day - or childhood.

For a long stretch of my youth, the XMan was practically "The Father of Garfield Heights." He was me and my friends' official quarterback in pickup football games. He coached our little league teams. If we were playing Yahtzee, he'd join in. My friends and I called my home, 9911 Garfield Drive, "The Establishment." It became a given that we'd have no more fun anywhere else.

Wow. The XMan has been gone a year. I have never had to go through anything close to as painful as this year. Yeah, I'm persevering through the days. I just hope I can be half the father he was to Sophie and Chloe.

Thursday, September 1, 2011


Michael Scott, AKA my brother Fred, is officially off the market as he married his longtime girlfriend Judi on Saturday.

I had observed last year that Fred had developed strikingly similar characteristics as the lead character in "The Office." During the recent week I spent in Cleveland, I learned that most everyone who knows him feels the same thing. He accepts this fact, and as he and Judi were introduced at their wedding reception in Westlake, Ohio, the theme song from "The Office" played in the background.

My daughters and I truly enjoyed our week in Cleveland, and the wedding ceremony and reception were a good climax to a fun-filled week. I am a big fan of marriage, and believe when in doubt, people should get married. Nowadays, the convention is to get married later in life, but I believe marriages should start precisely at age 18.

In all seriousness, Fred and Judi are excellent friends and mates. There is no doubt with the impending success of their union. Now that I think of it, they've actually been together for 91 years.The only questionable thing that happened with the marriage is that the day after the wedding, my brother had appeared to morph from Michael Scott to Rich Little.

The problem there was that he didn't do any impressions, but he had the same corny humor as Little. This manifested itself in 1-800-JOKES. Someone asked about a longtime friend who apparently sleeps around a lot, and Fred/Rich Little said, "Well, it's really easy to reach her ... if you call 1-800-SLUT."

For the rest of the conversation, he supplied answers with all 1-800-REPLIES. My cousin, apply nicnamed "Know-It-All," informed him that 1-800 numbers typically have seven digits after the 800. My brother then did simple math in his head to give us 1-800-ANSWERS with the proper digits.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

XMan's death ends blog

The Snooze Button Generation blog and all of its subsidiaries will be taking an extremely long hiatus following the untimely, unexpected and earth-shattering death of the XMan today. The XMan was 63.

"I kid around a lot on this blog, and some people might think this is some sort of twisted or cruel joke," Snooze Button Generation founder and CEO Joe Stevens said. "But this is no hoax. My dad is dead. Can you (expletive) believe this?"

The Xman was vacationing in Hilton Head, S.C., where his focus was playing golf. It appears that he had a stroke while sleeping and was found dead in the morning, but details about exactly what happened are sketchy. He also might have fallen awkwardly - and somehow, fatally - in the middle of the night. This fact has emerged, though: He shot a 40 in his final nine holes.

"I'm not going to lie," Joe Stevens said. "All of this news is surreal to me. This hasn't sunk in. I spent the day pacing. My body doesn't know what to do with itself. Is this really happening?"Anyone who knows the SBG founder well knows the tight relationship he held with the XMan. Hell, anyone who knew the XMan knew how cool he was.

The Stevens family is simply in shock. This came out of nowhere.

Stevens will be traveling to Cleveland Thursday to be with his mom, brother, the World's Most Sophisticated Man, Meathooks and many others dear to him. Funeral arrangements eventually will be done with the Rybicki & Son Funeral Home in Garfield Hts., Ohio, but the XMan's body is still in South Carolina.

"I'm speechless," Stevens said. "I did numerous stories about death, pain and loss as a journalist, and when it happens to you, you realize how insignificant the stories are."

Monday, September 6, 2010

Michael Scott is getting married

When one has celebrities in his family, that person does not like to talk about them. I find it tacky to brag about my famous relatives because they're really just regular people who happen to be well-known.

But the more I think about it, the more I realize there is no harm in trumpeting one's celebrity relatives if they're deserving of recognition. Therefore, I want to say I am proud of my brother, Michael Scott, who got engaged to his cool and stylish girlfriend Judi this past weekend.

Technically, my brother's name is Fred Stevens, but he has developed a genius brand of humor reminiscent of "The Office" boss, Michael Scott. During his stay in Southern California, his life has been filled with quirks, madness and romance. Just like Michael Scott, he spreads love to all those he meets with a dash of cornball and puns.

During his visit to California, I have witnessed a successful mix of quips and obvious puns. After a trip to the Long Beach Aquarium of the Pacific, I particularly enjoyed his exchange with a parking attendant in which he explained how happy the fish were to see him.That rip-roaring visit to the aquarium was exceptionally hilarious. Two of my favorite moments displaying my brother's humor were when he heckled sea otters and had approximately six people take various photos of him and Judi. I also enjoyed how he somehow used my mother's aquarium pass with her photo on it for admittance.

When I heard that he proposed to Judi in Big Sur, I was extremely happy for the duo. Marriage can be beautiful. However, it can be hard. That's what she said.