Happy Birthday Aviendha Shea Gilmore

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Happy Birtday Aviendha Shea

The sun rose twice on Monday, July 23rd, 2007 and the lives of everyone you have met has been brighter since.

You are a radiant being, who I consider myself lucky to have the honor of helping to raise. You have taught me to be a better father and person.

Never stop being you my dear.

The world is lucky to have you.

P90X2-Asylum Hybrid Week 1… Turning 30

Well, that was fun. No workout tomorrow (more on that later) so today’s workout marks the end of week one of the P90X2-Asylum Hybrid we are currently undertaking.

One of the major reasons I was looking forward to another challenge was that I knew that I would be motivated to push myself harder than I would if I were just going through the workouts on my own.

This has absolutely been the case. Checking in with my Facebook group daily has provided me with the motivation necessary to push as hard as I can to achieve maximum results. So far so good, as I am feeling great so far. ur

I also turned 30 this week. I have had a hard time focusing my thoughts on what entering my 4th decade means. I was telling my students this week that if I go by how I feel, I am more like 20. I feel great and in my mind I am still somewhere in my early-mid twenties. It isn’t until I peek in a mirror at the lines that are etching their way across my face, that I begin to realize just how much time has gone by and how much I have aged.

That being said, I feel amazing and am surrounded by a life that is hard to put into words. Yesterday was one of those truly amazing day. With the temperature creeping up into the low 50’s, Danielle, myself, Jennifer (Avi’s mom) and her boyfriend Meade took Aviendha Shea skiing for the first time. I rarely (if ever) write on here about our non-traditional family (something that is bound to change when Jen and I begin work on our book about co-parenting a child through and after divorce) but I think today it is appropriate.

We had an amazing time, and it was great for Aviendha to see all of the adults in her life truly enjoying spending time together. I was worried about her first ski trip. I was afraid all it would take is one hard fall and she would be scarred off. Once again I under estimated Aviendha’s capacity for challenge (Jen and Meade have started taking her rock climbing and she is out climbing many adults).

Between Deftones Monday night, Skiing yesterday with our whole family, and my party next Saturday, this is definitely going to go down as one of the best birthday’s I have ever had (thank you Danielle).

 

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The 2012 Turkey Bowl

We (I) look forward to it all year. The general consensus was that this was one of, if not, the best we have ever had.

The combination of balanced teams, perfectly sized field and good weather made for a perfect game.

It doesn’t hurt that after years of heart break, Terry was finally on the winning team. I think the last time I was on the winning team the Gilmore Brothers combined for about 10 TDs.

Once again, thank you P90X and Insanity for helping me regain my athleticism

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The 2012 Presidential Election

I have had a couple of days to savor what took place on Tuesday and I think I ready to share my thoughts.

I realize most people are burned out by election coverage and the last thing they want to read right now is one more person sharing their thoughts. Even I, the guy who usually cannot get enough of this stuff is suffering from election fatigue today. But I think this is too important to not say something.

I think the first thing that needs to be said, and this comes as no surprise to me, Nate Silver had this thing locked down. I cannot count the number of right-wing people I spoke with or read about on Facebook or other outlets who were convinced, Convinced!! that Romney was going to win, and it wasn’t going to be close. Go back, read what I wrote, I had absolutely zero fear that President Obama was not going to win, and the reason for my optimism was Nate Silver and 538. This wasn’t some magical guess, there was no surprise Tuesday night, the state-by-state polls were right from the beginning and Nate’s formula accurately reflected that.

The problem for the Fox News crowd, and the people who I read on Facebook (I am so tempted to rub this in to a few people) is that they refused to believe that Silver was right, that their simply are more people who self-identify as Democratic than there are Republicans.

I predicted on Twitter Tuesday that President Obama would win 326 electoral votes. He will have 332 when Florida is (finally!!!) called for him. This wasn’t some wacky projection coming from a hopeful liberal. I read 538, I believed in Nate Silver’s math and I won the Electoral College portion of our ReElection Party board (more on this later).

I have dedicated myself to listening to Rush Limbaugh and watching Fox News over the course of the last few days. What I heard prior to the election was a group of people who believed with absolute certainty that their candidate was going to win, and it wouldn’t be close.

A really interesting dynamic has started to take shape. Both sides, right and left have found news sources and information that reaffirms their world view. For Conservatives this is Rush Limbaugh, Fox News, The National Review, Drudge etc. They build a narrative. Put it out, and it bounces around in their echo chamber, being repeated over and over by each member of the group until it becomes “fact”. Benghazi is a perfect example of this, and I will circle back to it.

The same thing happens on the left to a degree, but with an important difference. For me, I know I am Progressive. I cannot stand prolonged exposure to the right wing echo chamber, because their version of reality is so frustrating for me  that I retreat to what I like, Maddow, Chris Hayes etc. In doing so, I am going to have my perspective reaffirmed, as I am going to hear things from a similar perspective to what I already believe. Therefore, it is incumbent upon me, as a curious and engaged citizen to seek out alternative news sources, or to fact-check those that I read to ensure that I am getting the full picture.

This last part is where right-wing media fails people who are consuming it, and those who are consuming it fail themselves. Anyone who believes that President Obama has doubled the deficit, or cut work requirements for welfare, or has raised the unemployment rate or taken people guns, or wasn’t born in this country simply has not fact-checked their sources. These things did not happen. Period. Every person on this planet has their own unique perspective on events that take place on it. Each person forms their own opinion based on what they perceive. This is human nature and it happens. Two people can witness the same event and walk away with two completely different views of what happened.

But, and this is the key to the 2012 election, Facts do not have two sides. Facts are not biased. Our interpretations of those facts carry our personal biases, but the fact itself has no bias. We may not like it. It may run contrary to our world view, but a fact it remains.

The fact is, President Obama was leading in the polls in September. He was leading in the polls after the Debacle in Denver on October 3rd. He was leading following the 2nd and 3rd debates where he wiped the floor with Mitt Romney. He was leading following Hurricane Sandy. These are facts. Mitt Romney may have had some momentum following the 1st debate, but by the time election day rolled around, President Obama was the clear favorite and the results of the election bear this out.

Steven Benen at Maddow Blog describes this phenomenon

Anyone who watched Fox News Tuesday night saw the collision that took place between a group of people who had so insulated themselves within their bubble that they were convinced of a Romney win, and Facts. When Fox News called the election for Obama, they literally did not know what to do or say, because for months they had been told by every pundit on their channel that Romney would win. It was their opinion that Romney would win and it was based on gut feelings and hopes. The facts said something very different.

The Election of 2012 was a win for facts.

John Stewart says it far better than I can:

Watching Fox News and listening to Rush Limbaugh yesterday after the election I heard a group of people struggling to come to grips with how they could squeeze reality until it fit into the world view that they maintain. Conservatism at its core looks to return America to simpler time. Old White Men have run this country from its inception. Old White Men have been the power brokers in the country since day one. Old White Men are watching as the base of that power is eroding under their feet.

Our country is becoming younger, and (excuse this term as I don’t like it) browner, and more feminized. There are a group of people in this country for whom this is a literal nightmare. That group of people listen to Rush Limbaugh and watch Fox News. Rush literally could not understand how this happened on Wednesday. In the 20 minutes I listened to, I heard him say at least three times: “How did this happen?” The exit polling shows that Obama increased his share of young people, Latinos, African-Americans and women, and more of each of those groups voted than did in 2008. This is why right wingers thought the polling data was favoring Democrats, they could not believe that these groups would turn out in the numbers they did.

I listened to Rush, and Bill O’Rielly try to figure out how to do a better job pitching the Conservative message to these groups. Both Rush and Bill-O correctly stated that without gaining some portion of this electoral groups, the Republican party cannot win on a national level anymore.

But in saying that they reflected their fatal flaw. Rush listed Michael Steele, and Herman Cain, and Marco Rubio and basically said, “what’s wrong with our minorities?”. From Rush’s warped perspective simply looking like someone is enough to get people to vote for them. He is saying “Hey Latinos, we have Marco Rubio, he is Latino, vote for us!”

What they fail to grasp is that it isn’t a matter of doing a better job of selling the Republican Brand to minorities and women to get them to vote. The problem is with the brand itself. You cannot, as a party, support platforms that alienate entire groups of the American electorate, then try to sell yourselves to those same people by parading a line of token representatives of those groups. This is small-minded, 2oth century thinking and it cost the Republicans the Presidency. Adding Sarah Palin to the ticket in 2008 didn’t cause a wave or women, liberal or otherwise to say to themselves: “Fuck reproductive rights, and equal pay, and all that other stupid shit we have been fighting for for 200 years, Palin has a vagina, I have a vigina… John McCain!!!!! GO!!!!” John McCain lost in a landslide and it was due in large part to Sarah Palin, not despite her.

I wrote about this back in September. There is a coming Civil War within the Republican party. If they want to ever win a Presidential election again, they are going to have to find a way to divorce themselves from the wing-nutty conservatism of Todd Aiken, Richard Mourdock and Paul Ryan. Telling women that they do not have the right to choose, telling immigrants to self-deport, telling black people they are welfare-queens who don’t care about their future is a recipe for many more nights like Tuesday.

Tuesday night was a blood bath for Tea Party, Wing-Nut Conservatism. I am not talking about small-government Laize-Faire, free market conservatives who just want lower taxes. I am talking about the 44% of people in Missouri who voted for Todd Aiken. Your brand of “small government when it comes to taxes, government intrusion into a woman’s uterus and a homosexual couples home” is a loser on a national level.

Tuesday night was a dramatic win for the Progressive Movement.

Think about it this way. In a country as divided as we are, and bad as the economy has been, and negatively as the President has been portrayed by the right, Barack Hussein Obama won a second term and it was a landslide. Less people voted for Mitt Romney than did John McCain.

Having said all that. Watching Sean Hannity last night, you would have thought the President lost. He clearly decided to take the “this election doesn’t change shit” tact, and spent the better part of the night talking about Benghazi as if it were “Obama’s Watergate”. As elated as I am over the results Tuesday, not because it means I was right, but because what I think it means for the future of our country, I am realistic in that I know that the right-wing is not going to do what I personally think they should do and spend some serious time reflecting on what Tuesday night meant for their brand of fantasy. They are going to do what Sean Hannity did, and go on as if Tuesday never happened.

Let me finish with this.

As a student of history, I am fascinated by the importance of speeches. I say this with as little hyperbole as someone as prone to it can muster,  President Obama’s speech Tuesday night (Wednesday morning) will go down in history with the greatest Presidential speeches ever.

What Obama is calling for here is the kind of Progressivism that gave us the New Deal, 80 years of American prosperity based on the important role that Government plays in laying the foundation for a strong economy. Listen carefully to what he said, this is an absolute repudiation of Ayn Rand, pull-yourselves-up-by-your bootstraps, every man for themselves conservatism. This speech lays out a vision for progress through government action.

It is interesting that he references Kennedy here. Growing up, I remember hearing about the love affair that America had with the Kennedy’s. That there was something special about watching children grow up in the White House. I never understood this, until now. I cannot look at pictures of the Obama family, or hear him talk about Michelle and the girls without tearing up. Perhaps it is that I am the father of a little girl, but when he talks about them, I fall to pieces.

The inauguration is going to be amazing.

I realize I am an Obama partisan, and therefore, what I am about to say will most likely be taken with a grain of salt. But I am going to say it anyways, and I am going to say it because I mean it.

I think when all is said and done, long after the Obama Presidency has been laid to rest, Americans will look back and the question will not be was Barack Obama among the greatest Presidents that we have ever had?

I truly and honestly believe the question will be, was Barack Obama the greatest President in American History?

Just Breathe

I imagine, when listening to this song, sitting next to a hospital bed and saying goodbye. Luckily for us, we have many wonderful years left with Deb and Mo.

That being said, I think saying goodbye some day might be easier than what we are going through as Alzheimer’s, that brutal thief of cherished memories does its awful work on May’s brain. There was moment a few weeks ago, where for the first time, she looked at me and I saw no recognition in her eyes. She didn’t remember who I am. I have 29 years of memories of the woman. Tube tops and pedal pushers. And she does not remember me.

We laugh when she congratulates Danielle and I on our engagement again and again. We laugh because tears hurt too much.

We are a family of stories. Our stories represent memories. Memories of our shared experiences. Without those stories, without those memories, what was our past but just a series of yesterdays.

I will forever hold in my heart “Raincloud Roethel.”

As she announced that year at Camp-O-Rama, she made all of this. She may not remember it, but she did.

Aviendha Shea Goes to Kindergarten

Aviendha Shea went to kindergarten last Wednesday. The day came and went and I didn’t have a lot of time to think about it. Part of the problem was that her first day of kindergarten was also my first day at a new school. I am working at a middle school and have had to leave before she is up in the morning.

With all of this happening, I never really took a minute to collect my thoughts.

Avi going to kindergarten isn’t the end of my world. I am proud of her, I am excited for her, and I wish time would slow down. I took some time today and scrolled back through the archives to this site. It is really interesting to see where my mind has been in the last four years. I still feel the same way about some things, I have changed my mind about some things, but all in all, I am still the same person I was when I wrote the things I have written.

One piece caught my attention in particular. I wrote this in January of 2009:

So much has happened, it seems like so fast in my life. My baby is a kid now. Which is something I think I have taken in stride. I try to not get too upset about her growing up. My thought process has always been that if I spend all my time sad that she is getting big, I will never stop to enjoy the Getting Big part.

I made a conscious choice, at four months, exhausted, (read the myspace blogs if you don’t believe me) that I would enjoy this, tired, stressed, I would enjoy it. I have a year and a half (she is a year and a half tomorrow. July 23rd, 2007. 7:44 am, it was a Monday, she had tiny hands and my uncle Greg’s face, she slept through the first night, she smiled the day she was born, she fit in my hand and the gravity she pulled down on me crushed everything I thought mattered. She stormed into my life-like a tornado with a nine-month warning, I am rambling I know. She weighed 6 pounds 7 ounces and my hands were made to hold her, my elbows bent just so, right dad? 18 months in a heart beat. She talks now. She laughs now.) of amazing memories.

My life is in Three Dimensions. I turn around and it is there. I turn around and it is there. I turn around and it is there.

The little boy, who still feels like a little boy took lessons from Atlas and threw it all up on is not-so-broad shoulders. I wake up in the middle of the night sometimes (too often) heart racing over nothing. Three Dimensions.

Now that she is five and I can talk to her about what she was like when she was little, I tell her about how she fit in my hands, how my arms were bent just so, how she looked my uncle Greg and smiled the day she was born.

The sun rose twice on the day she was born. She is the sun in my world, and it is brighter for her presence.

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This is what I posted on Facebook the night before she boarded that bus for the first time:

Aviendha Shea Gilmore will be getting on the bus and heading off to Kindergarten tomorrow. I could sit here and wax poetically about where the time that has gone, how she has grown up to fast, how I cannot believe that a little over five short years ago I laid eyes on her beautiful face for the first time. Instead of tears of sorrow for the time that has passed, I will be shedding tears of joy for

 her as she takes the next triumphant step in her amazing life. I could not be more proud of this young woman or the people in her life that have helped shape her into who she is today. As she steps into the next phase of her life tomorrow morning it will be with the love and support of the most amazing group of people any kid has ever had the privilege of being surrounded by. I love you my daughter. You make the world a brighter place and we are all blessed to have your light shine on us.

Cape Cod 2012

Since we got home on Sunday, I have had a really hard time putting my thoughts about the week down.

Simply said, it was everything I hoped for. It was fun, relaxing, and I asked Danielle to marry me (to which she said yes!). Avi had the time of her life (all that kid needs is sand and salt water). Teaching her how to boogie board was one of my favorite parenting moments ever.

When I decided to ask her to marry me in the Cape, I wasn’t sure how I was going to do it. I thought romantic walk down the beach, on Commercial Street in P-Town, have Avi help me, ultimately I decided a whale watch proposal was the way to go. It was really rough on the ocean (people were puking over the side of the ship). We saw more whales than you could count. As the whale watch was winding down I decided it was time to drop the question.

After 90 days of X2/Asylum, this is the best I have ever looked.

Beach Yoga

The company is called BeachBody for a reason

The week was amazing and I am already looking forward to next year. This week I started Body Beast, and we have a wedding to plan. I am two days into Body Beast and I will have a week one wrap up posted later this week.