Archive for the Family Category

Ella hits Tiger Town

Posted in Family, Sports with tags , , , , , , , , , , on September 3, 2020 by macmystery
IMG_2393

Ella shows off her Tiger Rag commemorating Clemson’s 2016 National Championship. The Tiger Rags were handed out to all fans in attendance of the 2017 home opener vs. Kent State, when the Tigers celebrated the national title.

Three years ago today (Sept. 2, 2020 since this post will go up after midnight), I took Dylan and Ella, along with my nephew Brayson, to the season-opening Clemson football game against Kent State in Death Valley.

For Ella, it was her first Clemson game. And she ate it up.

The Tigers won 56-3 that day over the Golden Flashes. Since Dylan has been the focus of a lot of the photos I’ve put out there, this is Ella’s turn to shine.

IMG_2394

Left to right, Brayson, Ella and Dylan pose at the top of the hill in Death Valley late in the 4th quarter against Kent State.

 

IMG_2399

Ella gives the Tiger Cub a high five.

 

IMG_2395

A good photo of Ella and Dylan, though I feel like something is missing. (Note my Deshaun Watson G.O.A.T shirt.)

 

IMG_2397

It took a lot of work to get Ella to pose with this Clemson cheerleader on the field after the game. She is beautiful. The cheerleader’s not bad, either, I guess. If you’re into that.

 

IMG_2398

Ella was much more thrilled to be posing with a member of the Rally Cats, or as Ella called them, the sparkly cheerleaders.

 

IMG_2396

Clemson backup quarterback Zerrick Cooper pauses for a photo while signing autographs for the kids on the field after the game.

 

IMG_2400

The Tiger Band throws shade at Ohio State during the halftime show by spelling out the score of Clemson’s 2016 playoff win over the Buckeyes, who have never beaten the Tigers.

 

IMG_2401

Tiger Band gives the Clemson head coach some love.

I can’t help but look back and be disappointed

Posted in Family, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 26, 2020 by macmystery

Two years ago last night, I, along with my kids, spent the night in my new-to-me house for the first time.

That, in and of itself, was quite an accomplishment. It was already almost two months after we closed, which was also delayed. Both bathrooms were torn out at the time of closing. Finally, by Aug, 24, there was one functioning, finished bathroom.

The delay in being able to move into the house played a part in the decision not to file for custody of Dylan and Ella. That was a tough decision then and I still go back and forth about what was the best thing to do.’ (I’ve since filed for custody.)

I had closed early in July. I had hoped Linda and I might “rough it” in the house on the first night. But circumstance had other ideas, and I didn’t see her until after midnight in what would be a pretty crappy week before a really crappy week, which I now know was even crappier than I was aware at the time.

Despite the circumstances at the time, I was hopeful. I finally felt like I was going in the right direction and there were good things ahead. I was in love, I was hopeful, I was optimistic. And a couple months later it all came crashing down.

And I tried hard to save it and thought we had, for a while at least. But a couple of bone-headed weeks for me were the last straws for Linda another couple months later and that was it. Though, to be fair, I believe now it simply wouldn’t have mattered. I think she intended to do what she did for a while and I just served it up for her.

And I’ve been in a hole ever since.

I’m well. My kids are well, happy and thriving, actually. I’ve taken a second job editing a weekly newspaper and I love it despite the stress.

But if I told you I was doing more than surviving, … getting by, … I’d be lying.

I penned a Facebook message two years ago tonight (Aug. 25, 2018) thanking my dad and Linda and friends who had helped me get to where I was after the hole I was in a couple years before.

You can’t tell the people you care about that you love them too often. You should do it at every opportunity. You never know when you won’t get another chance.

I must have read that note 15 times today. But I couldn’t share it. Though I still mean every word in that note, I can’t put it out there.

Looking back at that day and that note, it’s hard not to be disappointed at how things turned out. And I haven’t been able to just get over it.

I know all of this sounds cryptic. But I just needed to get it out. It’s for me, not you.

Despite the disappointment and all the other emotions I’m dealing with on a daily basis, I want to repeat the sentiment of what I wrote that day.

I want to thank my father, William McCombs, without whom I would be lost. Without fail, he has always been there for me. Everything I know about being a man, I learned from him.

Despite how things went and where they are now, I am grateful to Linda. More than I can express.

And I’m grateful to Dawn and Bryan and Ken and Fran and Erin and even Mike, though I’d be lying if I said that relationship wasn’t strained, as well.

At some point, I’ll get out of the hole. It’ll happen. I know it will. But until then, I’ll be here at the house, getting by.

Sweet Caroline!

Posted in Family, Sports with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 19, 2020 by macmystery

Caroline

My niece Caroline is ready to step to the free-throw line.

Bah bah nah. That’s what come’s after Sweet Caroline, no?

If there’s any confusion, this  is most assuredly not about that popular Neil Diamond ditty. While I’ll admit it’s catchy, when you listen to the words, the song is actually quite creepy.

It is even more so when you consider it was allegedly written about a quite underage — barely even teenage — Caroline Kennedy. Think about that next time you’re singing along during the seventh-inning stretch at a shitty Boston Red Sox game.

Nope. This epic blog post is about Caroline, my niece, named after my mother, Carole.

Caroline is my sister Michele’s only child, born roughly a half a year after my own daughter, Ella. Unlike Ella, who is quite small, Caroline is big. Quite big.

I don’t mean this in a bad way. But she takes after her father in the fact that she’s tall. Quite tall. And getting taller.

At the ripe age of 11, she has already surpassed her mother in shoe size. I’m sure Michele welcomes this. It means she’ll no longer worry about Caroline stealing her shoes.

Problem is, it means she’ll be buying a lot more shoes. And the growing is far from over.

Caroline isn’t just big in stature, she has a big voice and it’s impossible not to notice she’s in the room. And issues with her ear she’s had since birth mean she’s sometimes unintentionally loud.

And my nickname for her? Lovingly, it’s Big Head.

But her size betrays her. When you’re with her, you feel like you’re in the room with another adult. It’s easy to forget, she’s only 11. Sometimes it’s tough to not be hard on her. Her size, unfairly, honestly changes your expectations.

But she’s a good kid. And something else she has that’s big — her heart.

Caroline has been playing church league basketball for a couple years now. I’ve managed to attend several games when in town.

Her coaches have tried to take advantage of her size — who wouldn’t. They want her to go to a spot, turn, and ask for the ball. When she gets it, they want her to turn and shoot. No dribble. Simply post up. There’s no one in her league who can contest her.

All this makes sense. The results? A few points — the games are low-scoring and her shooting has been suspect. And a lot of rebounds.

But not so many wins.

In fact, until last week … zero wins. Some close calls, but no bananas.

Basketball-wise, Caroline has some things to work on. I have told her a couple of times, the best thing she could do to improve is play as much basketball as possible.

There is a conflict, unfortunately. The things her coach asks her to do aren’t wrong. They are the things that give the team the best chance to win.

But she needs to improve her shooting, dribbling, passing, … and the mental aspects. And she won’t get better at those things if all she does is post up, catch the ball, turn and shoot. She can only get better at those things by doing them. She needs to play ball, a lot of it, and against kids her size, where she’s forced to do those things.

During this offseason, she made a decision to get more serious about basketball. A huge Clemson fan, she has made it her goal to play for the Tigers.

A realistic goal? Who knows. But she’s playing with a purpose.

She has actually gone and talked to the people who would be her coaches at the junior high and high school level about what she can best do to be ready to play for them.

Last week, I got the texts from my sister that I usually get during Caroline’s games. Except this time, they ended differently.

Trailing 5-4 late in the 4th quarter — with both buckets belonging to Caroline — a late score from the coach’s daughter gave her team a long-elusive 6-5 win.

Caroline finished with 4 points on 2-for-3 shooting with 11 rebounds and zero fouls.

“It feels good,” she texted me after her first win. “I played like I had a goal in life.”

I reminded her that her goal was good, but to be careful to enjoy the moment and have fun, even if the goal doesn’t work out.

“I know and I did but I still want to work on my goal.”

score

This week, Caroline and her team did it again. She scored 6 points — all on putbacks —  and her team won 8-4.

A winning streak. Who’d have thought it?

There’s really no point to all of this except that I love her. And some things seem to be breaking her way.

And there is no one happier for her than me. She, and her mama, deserve it.

 

Bound for the Rock

Posted in Family, Movies, TV with tags , , , , , , , , , , on June 24, 2019 by macmystery
alcatraz-map
Tomorrow (later this morning, actually), I’m lucky enough to be heading to tour Alcatraz with friends, the Winston family and part of the Rothschild family. (Thank you, Will.)
 
I’ve seen the Rock from afar, but will actually get a close-up view for the first time, and it brings up a strange but treasured memory from when I was young.
 
There was a classic movie from 1962 called The Birdman of Alcatraz starring Burt Lancaster. It’s an old black-and-white picture about an inmate who worked with birds. But when I was a kid, maybe 7 or 8, I had no idea.
 
I’m sure we saw a promo for a re-run of the old movie on TBS or something. And somehow, my sister, then 5 or 6, and I crafted this character, the Birdman of Alcatraz. And we would take turns wearing a blanket around our neck as a cape and swooping around the den trying to get the other. Michele would say, “I’m a jail bird,” without any idea what that really meant. Just the things that kids do.
 
It’s goofy. But for whatever reason, all these years later, it has stuck in my head, like so many other seemingly meaningless things that, in all actuality, are the things you remember. And tomorrow when I’m seeing a famous prison for the first time, an unhappy place for a lot of people, I won’t be able to help but think about happy memories.

Back in the game

Posted in Family, Journalism with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 10, 2019 by macmystery

My first issue as editor of The Island News.

I posted something akin to this on Facebook a little more than a week ago, I guess, but I’m just getting around to posting it here.

The name of my blog is Raising Two Americans, a reference to my two kids. The subhead of sorts initially read “Tackling life as a husband, a father and a journalist.”

Funny thing is that in the almost 10 years since I started, everything about those headers has been shaken up.

I am not a husband. My wife informed me almost 5 years ago that she was no longer interested in being married. Of course, that’s no longer mentioned on the masthead above this post.

I am still a father, of course. How good of one I am, some people may call into question. But nonetheless, my children reside with their mother.

And, practically, I ceased being a journalist on Feb. 22, 2016 when I was laid off at my McClatchy newspaper. Though, in spirit, I have remained a journalist, even if I was not being paid as such.

(Working or not, I will gladly embrace the Donald Trump title “enemy of the people.” Opposing Trump is a badge of honor I will wear proudly until the day I leave this life.)

Currently, the top of the page reads “and former journalist.” It’s safe to say that’s no longer accurate.

I am now the editor of The Island News, a weekly newspaper that covers northern Beaufort County in South Carolina.

It pays but won’t pay the bills. It’s not a full-time gig. I’m still employed at Randel’s Lawnmowers Equipment Sales and Service to make ends meet. But it’s a nice bump.

And I’m back in the game.

The Island News is a typical small-town weekly. At the small end of the small-town spectrum.

There are a lot of community event pictures and rewritten press releases. But the new owners have goals of something bigger — filling the void left when the local paper, The Beaufort Gazette, basically abandoned its hometown.

And there is a lot of potential. But there is little staff.

Also, I’ll admit I like the job. Almost too much. While I needed a break after getting laid off, I will admit I may not have realized how much I missed the grind. It was time to get back.

Given the landscape, I’ll never get back into newspapers. Not in the big sense. But this job gives me the opportunity to play a constructive role in the community I have chosen to make my own.

And maybe one day, it’ll be more than a part-time gig.

But right now, it’s a positive. And given the way 2019 has gone for me personally, I needed it. It’s given me a little hope I have been lacking.

And a reason to change “former journalist” back to “journalist.”