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Random Thought

Adaptation is, at times, as crucial to perseverance as is the will to succeed. This is simple, in a complicated sort of way.

It’s Time To Say Goodbye.

“Nothing can cure the soul but the senses, just as nothing can cure the senses but the soul.” – Oscar Wilde

“I’m a man! I’m an anchorman! I’m the kind of man that built the Eiffel Tower out of metal and brawn that’s what kind of man I am!” – Ron Burgundy in Anchorman

Those are the first words I ever used in a blog. That was a little more than four years ago. It’s amazing what can happen in four years.

I’ve been through quite a bit, but, then again, we all go through quite a bit don’t we? I’m no different. No better. No worse.

The record I’ve kept here and at www.maxfalco.typepad.com speaks for itself. I won’t go into particulars. I don’t have a greatest hits collection to give you. I don’t even know how many of “you” are out there.

This was always more for me than it was for you. I’m sorry if that sounds nasty, I certainly don’t mean it that way and I am truly grateful for all the “you’s” out there that have stopped by from time to time, leaving your comments and your page hits. But, there were never that many of “you” and for me to pretend my writing here was put into the blogosphere to make a difference for anyone but me would be pretty arrogant and a downright fantasy.

I feel like it’s time to close this chapter of my life. For now. Over the last four years I have pressed my need for clarity in these posts, and in all that time I have only recently come to realize one irrefutable fact: clarity is subjective. The secret then is that clarity will always be unclear. And that’s pretty much it.

Keep an open mind. May you find your peace. Oscar Wilde had it right. But it’s not a cure I’m after anymore, it’s my evolution.

Parting is such sweet sorrow… Stay classy.


I Have Been Remiss

I can be hard-headed and stubborn. Very hard-headed and stubborn. And I think about this.

Perseverance has served me well. Somewhere along the line, however, the fuel that allowed perseverance to burn bright inside me turned from insistence to anger. For a long time I have had a well of fear, loathing and hostility burning inside me. A need to prove something to myself. Why I have no idea. I really can’t say. But, for the better part of a decade, anger has been a significant driving force in my life. And I didn’t even know it.

A few days ago, right before the New Year actually, my girlfriend and I had gotten into another argument. Money is tight, our beautiful six month-old daughter is sick for the first time and things have been stressful. Factor on top of all this circumstantial hub-bub that both my girlfriend and I have two totally different and unique ways of solving problems and the situation can often become… abrasive. Things got heated. Things have been heated. Then my girlfriend said something to me that really made sense, she told me that I was close-minded. She said that all those things I read and write about patience, peace, forgiveness, the Zen of things were great and all, but that I never put them into practice.

She was right. I was wrong. Had been wrong for a long time. I was shocked. I had turned into an arrogant asshole. The very thing I despise.

I suddenly realized that I have always carried a chip on my shoulder.  I suddenly realized that, for the past two years, I have been extremely pissed off at the circumstances surrounding my life. They have sat there, steaming, bubbling just under the surface like some molten magma just waiting to erupt. I realized that my views had become rigid, inflexible and perhaps even self-righteous. I had turned into an angry and pompous fool. An infantile twit. I had gotten lost.

Dayna saved me. She had the courage to stick with me and point this out time and time again until it finally got through my thick, block head. She cleaned the wax out of my ears. She cried for me. She cried because of me. Yet she still stayed with me, for some reason I know not why. She led me out of the fog and now, ironically, I feel a little lost. It’s not a “now what do I do?” lost, it’s more of a “I wonder what happens now” kind of thing.

Am I cured of my anger? Is an alcoholic or a gambling addict ever cured? I would say that I am AWARE. And in that awareness lies the power to combat the forces that have paralyzed my progress. The forces I have set upon myself. For the past several days Dayna has noticed that I have been much more patient. But I haven’t. I have just realized that my way is not that only way to do things. That, if things get done, what’s the point of arguing which way to do it? It wastes time and sidetracks purpose. I have made an effort to be much more open-minded. That’s all. Some of the results have been staggering in such a short period of time.

Patience and forgiveness have been a direct result of this open-mindedness. Chaos has lessened, peace has grown. There is more laughter, less abrasion. Our pets have begun crawling into my lap and following me around the house all day. How weird is that? I feel peaceful. I can’t tell you when the last time I even felt an inkling of that. Things have gotten a little bit… Zen.

My future goals have not changed. I am no less driven to succeed, but I just feel different. It sounds cheesy and it is certainly fragile but, perhaps, if I can find this open-mindedness to drive me rather than anger I can attain what I’m looking for: Stability. Love. Peace. Maybe this is the start of something great. Maybe my love for Dayna, and her love for me, can give us both, and our daughter, the life we want.

Who knows? Everything feels so breakable right now and my hands feel heavy and clumsy. I have no confidence in this aspect of myself, but I am insistent on succeeding in it. Falling is a part of life. Anger changes nothing. That which bothers us is our own fault. Imagine the power of open-mindedness once I understand it and am confident in wielding its power. I will work toward that day. For myself, my family, and my dreams. I will not be perfect, but I will walk with unfocused focus. I will let go and reign in. I will enjoy these moments that pass me by. It’s the least I can do. Maybe it’s all I can do.

It’s simple, in a complicated sort of way.

So Sick Of Floating…

I write a lot of existential stuff here. Philosophical stuff. Deep shit. This is how my mind operates and I make no apologies. If you like it, I’m glad. If you don’t, click the back button. In saying that, however, there is a problem contemplating all that ethereal hibbidy-dibbidy: the only time all this ideology makes any difference is when it is applied to action.

Action is the nuts and bolts, the brass tacks, the twig and berries. No action equals no discovery. All theory and no action equals a corrupt version of reality. All action and no thought usually leads to dire conclusions. Action and ideology must work in concert to be effective, to be worth a shit, to allow us to live in an honest fashion.

My actions are not always just, nor can I always justify my actions. I’m human, I make mistakes. I act out of impulse, emotion, impatience. Hopefully this ebbs as I grow older but, nevertheless, it happens. I am not always sure of my ideology just as I am not always sure of my actions. In my efforts to evolve, I try to listen. I try to communicate effectively. I try to empathize. I try to learn. I try to realize that what is right for me may not be right for others. I’m still learning, but I only learn through action.

I am hungry for a career path. I see two directions I can go: 1. teach in educational institutions (school) or 2. teach in physical institutions (gyms). In either discipline I would like to further my education, maybe earn my doctorate. A Ph.D will take a bit of time, but I’m going to die someday so what have I got to lose? What I am afraid of losing is more time. I want to somehow turn this choice into an action in 2010. I’m ready to embark. I’m waiting on the train.

I sit here, weighing pros and cons. Weighing options. Weighing the weight of my responsibility I now have toward my daughter and her mom. Weighing my foreseeable future. Wondering at my unforeseen future. I hem and I haw. I contemplate. I plan. I set both avenues in motion but the paths are diverging soon and soon it shall be time to choose. Soon it will be time to act.

And I wonder, am I ready? Have I prepared? Where will my ideology and action meet?

My Thoughts On My First Year As A Coach

I have just wrapped up my first season as an assistant coach for Team Palmetto, a select high school lacrosse program that takes high school age athletes from all over the state of South Carolina and pits them against other quality, select teams in the South. We played tournaments in Wilmington, Charlotte and Tampa. We placed first in our division in Wilmington and second in our divisions in both Charlotte and Tampa. All in all, a very good show for a very young program.

It was my very first year as a coach, ever. It was one of the most rewarding experiences I’ve ever had.

I believe in accountability, integrity, unselfishness, hard work, a strong foundation in fundamentals, and discipline when it comes to athletics. These virtues have served me well both on the field and in my personal life as well. It was my hope to pass along why I hold these things dear and why the 20-plus athletes I got to coach might find them helpful as well, both on the field and in their future endeavors. Did I succeed?

In that respect, I can only say this: I watched 20-plus teenagers catch glimpses of what it means to be a man of stature in life. I watched them slowly wrap their brains around patience, unselfishness, hard work, respect and honor. I watched them fall, I watched them get back up. I watched them sweat, I watched them hurt and I watched them smile. I watched them win, I watched them lose. I watched them listen, I watched them revert. I watched them learn. I watched them evolve. I watched them grasp character.

That’s all I wanted to be a part of: watching them learn, watching them evolve into men of character. If they have learned then they have not failed. If they have learned, then I have not failed. In life, their successes will be theirs and theirs alone. I cannot take credit for anything because success, and submission, are all personal choices. But it’s nice to think that, in some small way, maybe they learned something from me along the way that they might be able to call on when things get tough; when it looks like quitting is the only answer and quitting is the last thing they want to do. I may have coached for free, but the aforementioned is my payment.

I live in Hilton Head, South Carolina. During our last tournament, the Hilton Head parents of the 8 kids who made Team Palmetto were gathered in a hotel room and I went to drop off some paperwork. They asked me, with the head coach of the Hilton Head lacrosse team present, if I wouldn’t mind helping coach their children some more with the Hilton Head program come this spring. I was kind of taken aback. Can you imagine a parent trusting you with their kids development in the game and as a person like that so unanimously? I fell silent.

In a way it validated what I believed I was trying to do and, at the same time, it was very, very humbling. I take a request like that as a huge responsibility and am in no way sure that I am the man for such a job. I was kind of at a loss for words so I told them simply what I felt. I told them it would be an honor.

I made so many, many mistakes this year. So many. So, so many. But I learned from every one of them. I hope those athletes, those boys I saw begin their turn toward manhood, learned from their mistakes as well. That’s the point. If we learn then we have not failed.

The Unforseen And Practically Impossible Events That Unfolded In Less Than 20 Minutes On 13, November, 2009

First off, let me begin by saying that I love being a dad. My four-month old daughter takes my breath away every day with her beauty. She makes me laugh, she makes me wonder. She makes me say, “Holy shit! Did that just happen?”

It’s that  “holy shit” moment that I’d like to share with you now.

On November, 13, after a long day, I decided to feed my daughter pureed carrots for the first time while my significant other ran errands. By first time I mean, it was the first time she would have carrots, not the first time I would be feeding her. I’m a hands-on type of dad and spoon feeding my little princess is not a big deal. On the contrary, it’s usually good for a giggle or two. But not today.

There was a great philosopher, I forget his name, who once said,”Only when you’re tired and alone will shit go wrong.” Maybe it was Murphy. First off, unbeknownst to me, pureed carrots from Gerber have the consistency of tomato soup; way too viscous for a young lady who thinks the epitome of self-actualization is drooling and blowing bubbles with her saliva. Also unbeknownst to me, my daughter does not like pureed carrots. As a result, I was way underprepared with the necessary cleaning products for our feeding. At the end of our dining experience we both looked like mutilated zombie extras in Dawn of the Dead.

We headed up to wardrobe and changed.

Back down on the couch I began playing with her little feet and blowing little poofs of air in her smiling face. Cute, right? I thought so. However, playing with my daughter’s feet for some reason, usually gets her to poop. Which isn’t usually a big deal, except for today. Now, what I am about to share with you is all true and happened just the way I describe it. Even the most implausible and impossible parts of the story. I mean it. Really.

My baby began pooping, and it was a big poop. Again, this is no big deal. I have seen this before. What I didn’t see was that, due to my daughter’s prolific explosion of feces, her diaper had become faulty. The poop kept coming, my tired eyes not taking in the totality of the situation until I picked her up for her diaper change. Her pink pants had become stained with dark spots. My pants and my shirt were batting clean up to this diaper breach and I suddenly realized something: we were in a Code Red Crap Situation.

I sprang from the couch emitting the necessary, most likely obligatory and completely reactionary statement, “Are you freakin’ kidding me?” She giggled. I held her out at arm’s length and looked my child in the eye. She looked at me and her face said it all. If she could’ve spoke she would’ve said, “What?” I paused there in the living room, holding my baby in outstretched arms, poised in some kind of odd half crouch stance for some reason, wondering what to do. First things first, we needed to get to wardrobe and put these crap flames out before we had a full-scale crap inferno.

Now, from the living room to my child’s room is exactly 16 stairs upward and 5 steps down a hallway. Not, by any means, an insurmountable distance. But, I noticed that somehow, crap was spreading over my child like some kind of hyperkinetic rash as she bounced in my hands up the stairs laughing at all this fun. Crap had steamrolled down my child’s leg and into her sock. Crap had seeped up my child’s jacket and was now on her hand. Crap moved from my clothes to my skin. It seems a lot can happen in 16 stairs and 5 steps.

When we got to my daughter’s room I found myself still holding her, arms still outstretched, legs still in some kind of ready-for-anything crouch position and vacillating between changing table and crib. I think I might have been muttering something intelligent like, “Um. Uh. Ahhh. Ohhh. Um,” with each back and forth twist. Where does one put their crap filled child? They don’t write that one down in the manual. I opted for the changing table. Crap was now on my baby’s face. Crap was also now on my leg. Ahhhhh!!!

I wriggled out of my crap-stained t-shirt and did some kind of booty dance out of my shorts, losing a sock along the way for no reason other than it was a casualty of the situation. As far as I can acknowledge, my sock had remained crapless. I looked at my child. She was still smiling. Only one thought came to mind, “BATH!!!” I had to get the water running and make this transition from changing table to bathtub happen now.

For four months we have used our guest bathroom as the baby’s bathroom and, for four months, this has worked perfectly. Except for today. Today it seems my girlfriend thought it would be fun to do laundry circa the 1880’s. As far as I knew our washing machine was still fully operational, but today there was baby laundry all over the floor of the tub. Dear God, why is this happening?

I grabbed our baby’s wash basin and sprinted into our other bathroom, my one sock not impeding my progress at all. I turned on the water rapidly and tested it. Too damn hot, damn it! I backed down the water and noticed that filling the wash basin for baby’s bath was vastly harder in this tub than in the guest tub. Awesome. I sprinted back to the baby. All of this took less than 30 seconds and crap had not spread much further on my child.

She was a mess. I began stripping her down and noticed that with each layer I peeled back the mess worsened. “We’re gonna need more handi-wipes.” Then, I gagged. Oh no. Once I start gagging I can rarely stay focused enough to not vomit in my mouth or something much worse. If there was some kind of label that happened after a Code Red, like Code You Have No Hope Of Surviving, this was the tipping point. “Relax!” I told myself. “It’s just mud. Pretend it’s just mud.” That worked, somehow. Some men rise to the occasion, some men fall I guess, landing in a pool of their own vomit. I wiped her down with moist wipes as best I could and threw her soiled diaper into the diaper bin, it was ten pounds if it was an ounce and loaded with sludge. I hightailed it to the bathroom, baby in outstretched arms, crap still on my hands and on baby’s face.

I tested the water. Still too hot! Why God? Why? I dumped it out, balancing baby on one leg, leaving crap on my leg. I refilled it with cooler water and put baby in. Things were looking up. Now I just needed soap. Soap… oh, no. Damn thee, soap, you are where you should be, but not where I need thee. The soap, shampoo and towels for my child where all in the guest bathroom where they usually are kept. Nice. I picked my child back out of the tub and, dripping wet, we ran to the guest bathroom where we balanced on my crap covered leg yet again and Dad adeptly gathered all he needed with one hand.

Then we scrubbed. Then we inspected. Then we scrubbed some more. Then we inspected again. Then we dried off. Then we reclothed in pajamas for a total of 3 outfit changes in less than 2o minutes. Then we put the crap stained clothing into the carrot stained clothing pile for Mom. Then we went downstairs.

Now, apparently while all this was going on upstairs, one of the cats had had too much too eat or a furball had become too much to bear because there, in the foyer, right on the welcome mat at the front door, sat a huge puddle of thick cat puke. I then realized that this is exactly what is laid out Revelations 2:12, or maybe it was the Book of Job, and that the worst parts of the Bible were coming true before my very eyes. I wouldn’t be surprised if the next thing I sat on was a crown of thorns.

I sighed and brought my baby back into the living room and called my girlfriend. It was then that I noticed the couch had been soiled during the Code Red Crap Situation as well. Later, my girlfriend would clean our daughter’s clothes and remark, “Holy shit! Jesus Christ! There is shit inside her sock! Honey, look. Shit! Shit insiiide her sock!” I didn’t have to look, I knew. What part of “Code Red Crap Situation” did she not understand?

Jobless Again…

Lost my job on Thursday. The bar I was working at was sold to another  proprietor. I was told I would have a job when they re-opened in mid-January and I believe them. But, from now until then, I’m at a loss for work. I was in the same position last winter. Except, last winter my girlfriend was pregnant, and this winter we have an infant (a phenomenal infant, mind you) to take care of.

I have filed for unemployment and am waiting on the interview. I have finished my substitute teaching requirements and am waiting on a job. I have filled out an application for a part-time bartender position that isn’t really available at the time and am waiting to speak to the GM.

I have called the editor of one of the magazines I work for twice, emailed her once and texted her once, looking to pick up work. She hasn’t gotten back to me. I’ve tried to drum up work with the company that bought my restaurant, telling them I’d happily take a sledgehammer to stuff, haul trash or pound nails for some money. They said they might be able to help me. I have taken on extra copywriting work. I am taking an online alternative teaching course so that maybe I can become a teacher and this won’t happen next year. None of this, unfortunately, has resulted in much, as you can tell. This doesn’t do wonders for the family dynamic at home, let me tell ya.

My baby couldn’t care less. She is clothed, fed and loved. That’s all she gives a hoot about right now. My girlfriend, on the other hand, isn’t so easy to please. She worries. Who could blame her? She tells me I’m not doing enough. At least, that’s what I hear anyway. I love her. I know she loves me. I hate that she feels this way; all this anxiety, fear and stress. She’s even held it over my head that she has a job and I don’t. It makes me sad, even angry.

When I worked three jobs this summer and brought home the lion’s share of the money, I never held it over her head. I just gave her all my money and let her pay the bills. Part of me doesn’t want to speak to her right now, part of me knows that’s immature.  Nothing I can say is right. Nothing I do is good enough. That’s hard on a guy, on anybody…

None of this is really fair, but since when did fairness have anything to do with anything? We’ll be fine, if we don’t kill each other first. One day this will make a great story. This too shall pass.