Family

this is a little one…

One morning last week as I was leaving to get into the office when Eliana crawled up to me and grabbed my leg. She pulled herself up and just hung on, looking at me with the classic “Why do you want to leave me” face. Heartbroken, I picked her up and walked around with her for a few seconds. When I tried to put her down she whined and arched her back, so I picked her back up. This went on for about 10-15 mins. Finally Becca took her and I started down the stairs, but not before looking back and seeing Ellie crawl to the stairs banister, pull herself up and say ‘dada…dada…’. So I stood there again for 5 mins…until Becca picked her back up and waved along with her.

Saddest yet most moving moment ever. How she, a 10 month old knew that my jacket meant I was going, I don’t know BUT seeing that motivates me to be a better husband, father and friend. I’m not great at them all the time but you can’t help but want to strive a bit more…and to think, God loves you and I more than I love my kid…insane.

Any parents out there with similar cool stories about your kids? Or if you’re an uncle/aunt/part-time baby sitter? Share them!

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Story

I am a huge fan of the TV phenomenon known as LOST. I’m one of those junkies who reads every article about it, rewatches episodes for lost clues and ideas and has indepth convos with fellow Losties over coffee about where the story is going.

The reason why I love the show…or I should say, ONE of the reasons is it’s love for story. Each person on the island has a story and for the past five years, we the viewer have been able to learn their back story, allowing us to feel connected to them (so much so that when a character turns wrong or even worse, dies, there is a touch of sadness that lingers for a while. Becca still hasn’t gotten over Charlie’s death and that was three years ago.) and to their next movements. As you learn their stories, you realize why a few episodes ago, someone responded to something miniscule like the world was ending or why another character has an alias. We the viewer get an inside glimpse into someone’s reason for existence and it draws us in week by week. That’s why American Idol does those little back stories. Sometimes it’s to prepare us for a train wreck (…looking like a FOOL with your pants on the ground), but most times it’s to pull us and cause us to root for an underdog who may in fact, win it all. We’ll watch because we know “The Guy who Is Going Back To Iraq doesn’t want to leave his blind son and talking dog is singing Hello by Lionel Richie” and even though he’s not that good, we’ll cheer anyhow. It’s the pull and power of story.

I love meeting new people but even more so, I love getting to KNOW them (Those 25 Random things were great in its heyday…back in 2009.) and hearing their story. Story is what connects us, binds us and confronts us. Story allows us to illustrate life in a way that everyone gets. Story helps us rally, helps us survive and encourages others. The moment someone hears that you’ve dealt with something that they are, that person feels a bit more secure that everything will be okay, that they might make it too. I think that’s why no one likes shallow people…you know, people who live for the surface…but man, if they were to share that tale of how they got there, how much more sense would they make.

Close friends of mine would know that growing up, I didn’t have the best father-son relationship. I didn’t get Mr. Collin Carson Chase and I’m sure he didn’t get me. All through my teens, I was a thorn in his side through rebelling and anger. It was only until a visit to Barbados and a conversation with my Granny where my dad began to make sense. I learned his story, something I was too bitter to ask him for, and discovered why he was the way he was. It clicked, we clicked and he is my best friend. Not to say we don’t have our moments but I know his love for me is real and that’s cool. It was out of his story that I learned WHO is was…and WHY he was.

So! What’s your story? You do have one…it may not be a ‘page turner’ but you have one and people want to know it. As you share yours, someone will share theirs with you. The world is connected by story. Hopefully these little posts are opening you up to mine and challenging you on sharing your own. And if you’re a parent, remember that you are shaping your kid’s story too!

Here’s a cool quote I heard in a team training meeting last week: Joy comes from enabling peoples stories to be heard at the same time.

Cool eh? And now to prepare for 18 more LOST stories…

The Iris Wipe of Isolation

If you’ve ever watched a Looney Tunes cartoon, you would be familiar with the ‘Iris Wipe’. Wikipedia describes it as “…a wipe that takes the shape of a growing or shrinking circle. It has been frequently used in animated short subjects, such as those in the Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies cartoon series, to signify the end of a story. When used in this manner, the iris wipe may be centered around a certain focal point and may be used as a device for a “parting shot” joke, a fourth wall-breaching wink by a character, or other purposes.”

The last time I saw this effect in a film was in the 2007 Oscar-winning film, The Departed, directed by the amazing Martin Scorsese. The iris was used to show the isolation of Matt Damon’s character, Colin, as he moves further from his staff due to his faulty leadership, means of covering up his tracks and shady under dealings with his mob boss mentor. We as an audience are brought to his level of understanding and severe loneliness, which he brought upon himself, and are for a moment sad for him that he can’t share his pain and isolation with anyone. He doesn’t need to break through the ‘fourth wall’ (theatre and film term for when the character breaks rank and begins to talk and engage the audience, expressing stuff or what’s going on…think soliliquy in Shakespeare). We are able to see how he feels with that dark circle. He is alone and there is no one who can help. And often, during moments of trial, that’s how I, You and many others feel: stuck inside the Iris Wipe.

Think on it. If you believe in something and go back on it, or do something considered terrible, you don’t normally run to people and say your business. Instead, if you’re like me, you keep it all to yourself and think, “I can never let this out…they’ll never look at me the same way. I am alone. No one knows how I feel.” Troubles easily isolate the strongest people. And the higher up you go in the professional ladder or as you gain more influence, the harder it is to admit that you are alone, feel alone or are dealing with something all alone. And like Colin, you can’t see beyond the dark circle around you. You know people have your back but you choose to keep it in, which only causes more pain, resentment and isolation (the circle thus creates a vicious cycle). While we are created for relationship and need people to prop us up when we are at our lowest (and ugliest), we’d rather protect ourselves and our reps, which is the bare definition of selfish, is it not?  We’d rather work at covering things up, hiding under a box. We’d rather stay inside the Iris Wipe…noticed but not approached…everything visible yet nothing shared.

Today, I spoke to a friend from Newfoundland and as we spoke, I shared some areas that I am working on in my own faulty life, something that we both know is not like me but meaningful when it does happen, as we had many times like that as roommates in college. I was so relieved to know that he understood, related and was able to hold me up to become a better person. In one convo, he was able to break my iris circle and say I don’t want you to simply exist in there. More often than not, I feel that circle around me, as I’m sure you do at times as well. Sometimes it’s due to position, sometimes due to other stuff. The fear of confession can drive someone crazy and responsibility of accountability can place added pressure on anyone. But you know what else can? Acting. Acting is hard work and requires much concentration from every part of you. So imagine ‘acting’ like all is well ALL the time? Not for me…at least not now. I just don’t have that energy…there’s too much life to live to waste on THAT kind of acting. I know that God says that he won’t leave nor forsake. It’s also good to know that there are friends and family who live by that same principle as best as they can!

I love the movie idea of the Iris Wipe. I just no longer want to live in it. How about you?

I just realized that I’m going to have a daughter who will grow up to live in her own sometimes.

Dang.

Does it Matter if You’re Black or White?

Last night before falling asleep I toggled between channels to hear the latest jokes about NBC’s late night fiasco when I stumbled across CNN’s Larry King Live. On this particular episode, the specific topic was on comments made by Democratic leader, Sen. Harry Reid  about then-Senator now President Barack Obama. His comments, if you haven’t heard or read them were centered around the idea that if Obama was darker skinned, he would not have been elected. He also made mention that his ‘non-Negro dialect’ helped as well. Basically, his light-skin and ‘proper’ way of speaking made “people” feel safer to vote him, in his opinion. Of course once the words came out in public, he was apologetic, though now it looks like his job security is in trouble.

On CNN, the argument went on and on about race relations in the States (which comes up every now and again) and how we should look at what was said and such. That was the least of my thoughts. I thought about the comment on dialect and how blacks are judged on that…let me explain.

Now those of you who have met me or who know me, know that I don’t speak with a ‘Negro’ accent (whatever the that is)…maybe a hint of french due to my MTL upbringing but nothing more. Now I have people who are friends say to me, “You sound white” or “You’re not black enough”. Now they are friends of mine…a bit ignorant in the race department ,but I love them. They are…like that cousin who says dumb things around the table or when they visit, but you will still give a real hug to when they leave…you cringe inside and then let it go. I’ve never understood how someone sounds white or black. In fact I’ve asked a few of my white friends this and they don’t have an answer. I’ve also asked what it means to act “Black” and out of  their fear of a racist answer, they choose to not respond. Again, I’m all for a good joke and I probably live on the side of error here (some of you are thinking, Chase you’re a hypocrite…what else is new…) but it’s something worth asking, is it not?

Not all white people are the same, right? Some talk different, like different things, eat different foods and have accents (case and point, my Newfoundland peoples! What’s good, friends!?) and such. Which is cool. Yet, if one white kid who loves hiphop rocks Jordans and listens to Young Jeezy pops up, the kid is a ‘poser’, a wannabe-black and such, which sucks. In our society, nobody can be ANYbody…they HAVE to fit into something…which is sad.

I talk like THIS because I came home one day talking like I was from NYC in high school and my dad said I sounded stupid…so no more accent, I guess. I still love hip hop, joking around in a busted half Bajan-half horrible patois accent but at the end of the day, this is me and how I talk. I used to let skin define me and while some will try to allow it to, I won’t. I am person. I can apply and get any job like anyone else (that being said, I love this one!). I can rock a suit one day and then a ball cap and ‘timbos’ the next (well not Timbs cause we ‘Off That’…lol) and still be me. I’m black and I sound like me. I wear clothes like people wear, not white people, not black people, not asian people (though I just found out that I’m 1/16th Chinese…it’s true)…just people. I DO go to a black barber , though because they know my hair….lol…

So one day I’m at Wild Wing and while eating my wings, the server and I begin to chit chat about college football and other things. While sharing my opinion about something else, her response was something to the effect of, ‘well I didn’t know people like…” followed by me saying “people like what…?” That ended that section of conversation as you can imagine (and I should say that she quickly apologized and ended being really nice from that point on…)! And again last weekend, a friend said to me something about me being white because of something or other. On the flip side, my white wife got me a book called ‘Stuff White People Like’ (and I learned that I like many of the same things…like the Daily Show, coffee and shorts.) so it’s a whole bunch of hoowee! I guess stuff like this makes me think, does character go beyond what we wear or how we sound or what we look like? I think of my closest friends and mentors, many of whom are white and I know that it does. The opportunities I’ve been given have nothing to do with my color, choice of music (for every Jay-Z tune, there’s a beatles track or Dave Matthews or GASP, the Dixie Chicks!) or clothing. It’s who I am that make me what I am.

Today, look at people as people. Or just call it out. Say what you think a black person is or what a black should look and sound like so that I can prepare to spend money on new clothes and dialect classes.

…just realized that my beautiful light-skinned daughter is going to have it tougher than me…

Dang.

…And now Rob Blagojevich is saying he’s BLACKER than Obama…it goes on and on…

Let’s Here It For The Boys…

“Some say, boys on the side. Well, I say…Let’s here it for the boys” – Michael Scott

Michael Scott says this line after reflecting on a great night out  in Manhattan with his ‘boys’, Ryan, Dwight and some short other guy.  Of course he’s using the line from a cheesy Drew Barrymore/Whoppi Goldberg film and a song from the Footloose soundtrack, none of which ACTUALLY make sense with his thought but the sentiment remains the same: sometimes, it’s about hanging with the dudes.

Growing up, this was never an issue. I can remember spending so many summer days and evenings playing baseball, football and basketball with the guys…even some street hockey from time to time. Our moms would have juice and snacks for us after it was all done or if we wanted to take a break and our dads would sit on the steps of our houses and watch us ‘excel’ at sports. Many of you guys and girls know what I’m talking about. The days of bike rides, fishing, sports, trading cards and swings. As you get older, the bike rides get replaced with trips to the mall, movies and simply sitting around in each others houses. Friendship groups get smaller and small and the trips get lined up with jobs, homework and lifelong hobbies. Then you meet that someone and your time gets divided with them and then the rest of the world. Then, if you’re like me, you get married and start a family and then time gets even more divided. It’s not a bad thing…it’s just life, right (nod and say amen, if you know what I mean).

So this weekend was a real treat. One of my close friends at APC got 4 tickets to the Buffalo Bills game and because I had the Sunday off, I went. It was cold, it was snowy, it was American and it was so much fun! And the main reason why is because of the company I was with. The guys were loads of fun as we dealt with the elements (wind, snow, crazy cold temperatures, etc.) and the crowds together in our snowpants, scarves and heat packs.  We cheered lots, ate wings and talked about guy stuff (aka our kids). We snuck closer to the field together and watched as someone got arrested together. Then we reminisced on the day over some Buffalo Wings (“…hey, remember when that guy got arrested…? That was awesome…” ).

Hanging with the guys reminded me of those days as a kid, a whole posse of dudes just looking for a park to throw a ball in. Not worrying about anything expect for getting enough fun in before supper time. Laughing about everything while keeping one another’s back. Good friends keep you sharp, honest, real and grounded. They call you out and call you in. They are what you need and on that Sunday, what I needed. Hanging with those guys and with close friends in general make me (and hopefully make you) a better person.  For me, I left a better husband and dad and stronger against american weather. My mom always said, you’re as good as the people you hang with…I’m glad for the people I have around me. to lift up my arms during battle and inspire me to grow and be better..and hopefully people feel the same about me.

And about you.