A Talk With Pop

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Hey Pop, I’m sorry that I was so quiet at the cemetery today. Honestly, I really don’t know what to say sometimes when I’m there. I think maybe it’s because I still think from time to time that you’re going to talk back, and that’s one of the hardest parts of the past two years. The fact that we can’t engage in one of our epic conversations is still really difficult for me. Even as I’m sitting here attempting to write this, I’m not quite sure what to say. I guess what I really want to tell you is that maybe I’m still not quite past your passing. I’m trying really hard to get there, but I think there may always be a little part of me that will always be angry with myself for not getting past some things that happened between us a hell of a lot earlier than I did. I think that’s why I wrote what I did last year about forgiveness and I really did mean it. Or maybe I just miss you more than I could ever fully express and everything I just wrote is complete nonsense.

But overall, Pop, I’m doing okay. There’s still some things that get at me but I know I’m better than I used to be. I really wish you were here to see how much the girls have grown. They’re just getting so big so fast. And they’re so smart and so beautiful. It pains me to no end when they have to leave every week. Honestly, that’s a feeling that I know I’ll never be able to shake, but I think that can be a good thing.  The fact that I cry every single Wednesday lets me know how much I love them, I think.  They really are amazing and I know they would just love you so much and I know that Patrick and Dominic would too. You would be so proud of Kimberly. She is an amazing mother and I don’t think our relationship has ever been better. It’s so amazing when the four kids are together and I know that would make you very happy. Matt has got some very cool things going on as well and you would be so proud of the man he’s becoming. And Mom is still Mom. She’s the most amazing grandmother to these kids and still the best mother a guy could ever hope for.

I still contact Patti from time to time and she seems to be doing okay. A very cool thing is that I’ve actually hung out with Angie a few times (she’s a grown woman and actually calls me “Uncle Lukey”, which I know you would find as hysterical and adorable as I do) and met my great-nieces. They actually came out to my birthday party for a little bit. And just this morning, Derek messaged me asking for a copy of the video I made about you. He says that he wished he could have had a relationship with you and I’m sure that would have happened. I’m extremely proud that you chose to get back in touch with Patti after all those years and I’m happy I was able to be there for it.

I suppose the point I’m trying to make is that even though life always goes on, there are so many people that wish you were here to witness it. And as for me, I’m still just a boy that wishes his daddy was here. Through everything that happened, I always loved you and I always will. There was so much good in you, even if it was easier sometimes to see the other side. That’s what I forgot sometimes, but never again. There’s so much that you passed down to me and as the son became a father, I can only hope that Ashlyn and Brooklyn love me as much as I love you. I miss you every day Pop, and for that, I know I’ll never have to be sorry.

 

Here I Go Again

Here I go again on my own/Going down the only road I’ve ever known/Like a drifter, I was born to walk alone

For the longest time in my life, I felt this could be my walk-around theme song. I spent many years of my life lost, looking for answers that would never come and looking for THE answer that I’ve craved all my life. I felt trapped inside a personal prison that I feared I would never and could never escape. It was dark, cold, and I felt completely alone.

But then I would break free. Again and again, I would break free. Only to keep coming back. Again and again and again.

Just when I thought things were getting better each time and I was finally closing in on the elusive answer, I would get knocked back down again. I would climb and I would fall. I would climb and I would fall. The problem with getting closer to the top is that the fall becomes longer and it starts to hurt more and more every time. Believe me, there were times that I thought about not getting back up. I thought maybe I couldn’t, or even shouldn’t get up.

But you’ve read these things before from me. This is actually right around where I left you in “THE STATE OF THE LUKE NORRIS ADDRESS”.  If you’re not sure what I’m talking about, just go ahead and click on the title there and get caught up. But chances are if you’re reading this, then you know what’s happened over the past few years.

So what’s the point of this post then? The point is that once again, I feel like I have yet another fresh start, but this time is different. But why?

It’s been an interesting five months to say the least. When I last left you, I was about to hit the road and just go west, and I certainly did that. If you missed my series “THE LUKE NORRIS TRAVEL EXPERIENCE”, you can find it in the March 2014 archives to your right. You can catch all of the details there, but over the course of nearly a week, I drove 3,776 miles through Iowa, Nebraska (FUCK Nebraska!), Colorado, Utah, Nevada, Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, Missouri, and back home to good old Illinois. And I can honestly say that I’d do it all over again. It truly was amazing. It gave me so many hours on the road to just think about so many things in my life, and I saw some awesome things along the way, most notably the Grand Canyon. If you’ve never been, please do it before you die. But even some things that I didn’t know I would feel so strongly about are what make the trip stand out. I didn’t know how beautiful southern Utah is. I didn’t know that a cool desert night driving in New Mexico could be so refreshing. I didn’t know that the bombing site in Oklahoma City would make me feel the way it did. Honestly, I think that road trip brought out nearly every emotion that I have. But as cool as it was to be out there, nothing made me feel as good as coming soon and seeing how much my girls had missed me. All of them.

I came back refreshed. For those who read the address, let me clarify something. The point of that road trip was not to find my definitive answer to that one certain question. That wasn’t the point at all. The point was to just get some time away, which I think we’ve all experienced. But I did come back refreshed. That doesn’t mean that the things that had been going on here had just gone away. My basement was still a wreck. I didn’t magically have a job waiting for me. I knew there was still work to be done here.

So I started on the job hunt. What a fucking mess that was. Looking for a job is the absolute worst. I hadn’t done it in so long, so I really had forgotten how awful the process really is. The key this time though was not to just send out resumes to just any company that was looking. I wanted my next position to be something I could get excited about. For so long, I had been so unhappy with my job that I wanted something different. I was getting phone calls and interviews, but nothing that made me jump for joy. And when did companies start holding more than an interview or two? Good lord, there was one company that I interviewed with five times, including an actual full day of work. And then in the last interview, the guy I was supposed to meet with didn’t even show up. No e-mail. No phone call. Nothing. To this day, I still haven’t heard back from them. And that’s okay. If that’s the way they were going to do business, then I didn’t want to be a part of that anyway. It was also during this time that I started talking with Nexstar Broadcasting, who run CBS and FOX here in town. Again, I went on multiple interviews. I remember thinking that the first one had been more enjoyable than any interview I’d ever been on. But things kept getting dragged out. But I was still excited about it. It was even said to me that I hadn’t looked so excited about anything in quite a while, so I knew there was something there. If I hadn’t heard back from them for a few days, I called. I e-mailed. And persistence paid off. Starting Monday, I will be the new Account Executive with WMBD-TV 31, Fox 43, ciproud.com, and Bounce. Salary, commission, health, dental, vision, 401k, an expense account, phone, laptop, the works. So I’ve got that going for me, which is nice.

Throughout the five months, I’ve also had quite a bit of time to write. I’m sure I’ve annoyed some of you quite a bit with all the things I post on facebook for Binge Media, but hey, that’s what I need to do to get the clicks I’m looking for, so suck it up. I’ve been doing Binge Media Sports for a while now, and just in the last week and a half, I’ve actually been given my own weekly feature, which I’m calling “Working the Weekend with Luke”. Again, if you’d like to read it, just click on the title and check it out. I feel I’ve really gotten into a groove lately with my writing, and I’ve got some other big ideas for other projects that will soon be ready to roll.

Sure, there’s been some tough times over the past five months. I would get down on myself when the phone calls weren’t coming, or a couple of jobs I thought I wanted didn’t happen, but I kept telling myself that maybe that’s not the one I was supposed to get anyway. I would justify the schedule or the salary or some aspect that I didn’t like about it to make myself feel better and it allowed me to move on. However, when real tragedy struck, all of my petty bullshit seemed to go away. A couple of days after my birthday, I got a phone call saying that a friend I’d known for almost 30 years had passed and his eight-year old son was left to ask questions. I wrote about it in “Dear Alex”, but that really hit me hard. It hit a ton of people very hard and even as I write this now, I’m left with questions myself that will never be answered. But when something like that happens, you really take stock of what you have in your life. My heart continues to be with Alex and Becky and forever will be.

That’s why I’m glad I have the people in my life now that I do. Each time I’ve fallen down, I’ve had people to help pick me back up. Whether it was my boys back in the day, or Ashlie when my father died, or my family throughout everything, I’ve never been alone, even the times when I thought I was. There’s always been people there to help and I’m so blessed to know the people that I do.

But throughout the tough times over these past few years, the two main reasons that I keep getting back up to fight are these two.

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This is a picture from Ashlyn and Brooklyn’s first dance recital, held about a month ago. This is one of the many great moments from the last five months that I’ve gotten to spend with my daughters. That’s been the positive side of this time off. They start preschool in the fall and kindergarten and high school and college won’t be far behind the way time has been moving. So it’s been an absolute joy to have all this time I’ve had with them. When they’re this age, five months can bring so much and I feel like I’ve seen so much in that time and I feel like I’ve certainly taken advantage of it. Whether it be Monkey Joe’s or Chuck E. Cheese or Monday morning story time at the bookstore or a trip to the zoo or a trip to Chicago to see my nephews, we’ve done so much during these five months. I feel like I’ve become a better father in this time and it’s something I’ll never regret. Every single thing I do in my life, I’m doing for them. I want them to always be able to count on me, to know that I’m there for them, to know that no matter what, I’ll always be Daddy and I’ll always love them more than anything in the world.

(I know, I know…wrap it up)

The point of all that is this. As I said before, I feel like I’ve got yet another fresh start. With the new job and the new opportunities that have been presented to me, I’m ready to get back up once again and keep fighting. I’ve taken advantage of these past five months, through the ups and downs, and really taken a hard look at myself and I can honestly say that I’m closer than I’ve ever been to finding my answer. I’m also fully aware that I can get my ass kicked again at any time. I could hate the job. I could get writer’s block. There’s a number of things that could go wrong. That’s just life. But I’m ready to climb once again. The only thing is that I have a head start this time. I’m ready for another round…so here I go again. I’m just not on my own. I’ve got a whole group of people backing me up.

 

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My Newest Writing Venture

So happy to be back here at The Luke Norris Experience. I know I’ve been away from here for a while, but in addition to this post, I’ll be back very soon, probably later this week, with an “Up Close and Personal” update for all of you.

Most of the posts you’ll see on this site from here on out will be more of the personal stuff, but I’ll get to some of that later this week. Most of the sports things I do now I obviously do for Binge Media Sports. If you haven’t checked out any of my work there, go and check it out. I really do enjoy it. If you’re not sure where to find it, just click HERE . And I thank all of you who have made the jump over there with me. Whether it’s clicking from my facebook or Twitter page or “liking” the Binge Media facebook page. If you haven’t done that, you can do that HERE and get all of the updates as they go out.

The news that I have is that in addition to the work I do for Binge Media Sports, I’ve now been given a weekly column where I can talk about all the other things they do on the site as well, such as the movies and the music and such. Basically, I’ve been given a forum to just ramble about random things for a while, much like I could here, but for a bigger audience. That’s not to say that I don’t appreciate each and every one of you that logs on to this website, because without the support of all of you, the Binge Media thing never would have happened. So although I’ve got another outlet for some of the entertainment stuff, my loyalty and my heart will always be here with you. Again, check back later in the week as I’ll be updating you on what’s been going on with me the past few months.

But again, the big news is that my newest writing venture, “Working the Weekend with Luke”, is now up and running at Binge Media. If you’d like to check it out, and I really hope that you do, please click HERE for the first installment. I’ll check back soon and I can never say it enough, thanks to all of you who continue to support The Luke Norris Experience.

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Dear Alex

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Dear Alex,
I know you’ve had a tough week my young friend and I can’t even begin to tell you how sorry I am for what you have to go through. I know it’s really hard, and it’s really sad, and you have so many questions that may not be able to be answered right now. I know you’ve been asking God why this has happened and that will always be okay. I know you’ve been asking your mom why this has happened and that will certainly always be okay. I know things are hard to understand right now, but believe me buddy, it’s hard for anybody to understand why these things happen and maybe sometimes we’re not really meant to understand. The biggest thing I know though Alex, is how much your daddy loved you and how great of a man your daddy could be.
I first met your dad when I was five or six years old. See, I grew up right down the street from where your grandma Lynne lives. I met your uncle Bob when I was very young, so of course I ended up meeting your dad as well.
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He was about seven years older than me and your uncle, but the cool thing was that even though we were so much younger, he and his friends would still take the time to hang out with us, especially James.
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We thought we were so cool getting to hang out with the older kids. They let us play football with them, or play video games with them, or just sit out with them. I remember one night that your dad and James sat with me and uncle Bob and had us laughing so hard just telling us a story that they made up right there, which I’m sure your dad did for you all the time. It didn’t really make any sense, but your uncle and I were talking about it this week and we can still remember the story about these men that were going on this really long journey, so long in fact that they walked for “7 days and 63 nights” and when they got where they were going “the chicken was beef”. Pretty silly, right? But that’s how your dad was. He was always looking to make someone laugh, even if it was his brother and his friend. And speaking of silly, have you seen this picture of how your dad’s hair used to look?
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And as we all got older, I would still hang out with your dad quite a bit. Me and your uncle would go to see him at work and he would buy us some “sodas” and we would hang out in grandma Lynne’s basement and watch wrestling or watch the Cubs game and he introduced me to more of his friends that I’m sure you know very well. James was still obviously hanging around and I met Kristi and guys like Sam and Greg and Scott and your Uncle Joe and Aunt Jenny and of course, your mother. A great thing about your dad was that he always liked hanging out with his friends and had so many fun times with them, myself included.
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I lived in Florida for a while, but I flew in for your mom and dad’s wedding and it was easy to see that something was starting and they were building towards something and that something was you. I’d known them for so many years that I knew you were going to be something special. I remember being so excited when I found out that you were going to be born and I met you when you were very little and have watched you grow over the years through pictures and heard so many wonderful stories about the young man you’re becoming and it fills my heart with happiness to see it unfold. I know it was sad for you when your daddy wasn’t going to live with you anymore. I know how tough that can be buddy. I went through the same thing when I was a little boy, but it’s important to know that it didn’t change the way your dad felt about you. I’m going to keep saying it, but he loved you so very much and was so proud to be your dad. Being able to take you to school, or to take you fishing or camping or to Cubs games gave him so much joy Alex. Just being around you was the thrill of a lifetime. I hope that’s something you’ll always remember.
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And of course, 1908. This was a special place for your dad. He and his friends used to hang out there all the time drinking those “sodas” I was telling you about earlier. As me and your uncle Bob got older, he would take us and our friends down there as well, almost like passing the torch to the next generation. It made me so happy recently to see the picture that he took when he took you there. It really makes me think about all the good times I had with your dad over the years, which I know is hard to do right now.
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And I know that may be the hardest for you right now is to smile, but I hope you know that it’s okay. That’s what has helped me through the last week buddy. Remembering all the good times that you spent with your dad and how much he loved and will always love you will help you as you try to get better. Also know that it really is okay to cry. I heard a story the other day that you didn’t want to, but every person that I talked about has cried about losing your dad. I know Scott talked with you about it on Saturday and he told you that he cried on the way over to see you. I’ve cried many times already and I know I will again. My heart aches for you young man. I know you have a tough road ahead of you, but a good, solid mixture of laughing and crying will hopefully make things better for you. And one thing I’m definitely sure of is that everybody is here for you. Whether it’s camping or fishing or playing a game of catch, I know that all of these great people you have around you will be ready to do whatever you need as you move forward and become the great man we all know you’re going to be. I want to put one more picture up that you took with your mom a few months ago….
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You see that word on your shirt? That bold STRONG. That’s exactly what you and that special lady next to you are. And you’re both going to have some tough times ahead, but remember how lucky you are to have that woman as your mother. Just like you’re going to need her, she’s going to need you too and she’s so lucky to have you for a son. I just want you both to know that I’m so very sorry that you have to go through this, and if there’s anything that I can ever do for either one of you, just say the word and I’ll do my best to help. My heart goes out to your entire family, friends, and all those who knew your dad. He will certainly be missed. I wish you and your mom the very best things Alex.
With love,
Luke

For all of my readers, Mike Ochs was a very dear friend and the family is still trying to raise money for the funeral costs. If there’s anything you can do to help, please click the link below and give what you can. This young man that I’ve written to deserves to say goodbye to his father the right way. Thank you.

http://www.gofundme.com/9rn2yo

Checking In

It’s been a while since I’ve really checked in besides plugging something for Binge Media, which I’ll do again in a minute, but honestly, I haven’t really had too much to write about on here, which can be a good thing. I am thinking of a few things that are exclusively for The Luke Norris Experience, which may or may not happen, but keep checking back just in case. The truth is, I’ve been spending a lot of time with my girls, which has been amazing and so enjoyable for me. Watching them just continue to grow and grow continues to amaze me every single day I see them and when they get back from their mother’s, they look so much bigger than when they left. But I’ve got them this holiday weekend and they’ll be with me next week for my birthday, so that should be wonderful.

As far as the Binge Media thing goes, it’s been really great. I’ve gotten some great responses to the things I’ve written and I’ve had so much fun doing it. Another thing that’s it doing is that it’s really getting me into a nice groove. I just knocked out a 1000+ word article in about an hour. Now they’re not all that easy, but still fun nonetheless. And I don’t know if I’ve ever had as much fun writing as I did with the Field of Dreams v. Major League piece, which you can link to at Binge Media here:
http://bingemedia.net/2014/04/29/binge-media-sports-shoeless-joe-jackson-v-rick-vaughn/. Yahoo! also picked up on that one so if you want to read it there, then click here:http://voices.yahoo.com/field-dreams-vs-major-league-12635049.html?cat=9. And one last one and then I’ll be done, I promise, but my newest one just went up at http://bingemedia.net/2014/05/21/binge-media-sports-the-jeff-samardzija-situation/. Okay, that’s all.

That’s not really why I wanted to reach out today. I just want everyone to know that I’m doing okay. As much fun as it’s been spending so much time with the girls, the downside is that the big checks still aren’t rolling in, but that may be looking up as well. Hopefully, I’ll have some good news to report on that front very soon. I’m doing everything I can in that regard and although I didn’t think I’d be here three months later, I am so that is what it is. I won’t lie and tell you I’m in a good mood every day, but I’m doing my best and I know things will get better soon as long as I keep moving forward.

So there you have it. I’m sorry I’ve been away so long for those who enjoy checking out the site, and if you keep checking back, I’ll keep checking in, hopefully with positive things to report. As always, thanks to all of you who continue to support me and The Luke Norris Experience.

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Shoeless Joe Jackson v. Rick Vaughn

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I know, I know. It’s another plug, but I will tell you that I’m really proud of this one. I usually hate most of the things that I’ve ever written, but I had so much fun writing this piece on a fictional game between teams from Field of Dreams and Major League. I held a vote after writing revisits from both movies and asked my readers and loyal followers to vote for the better movie, which I then turned into the end of the article and who would win the game. So, to check out the results and the ensuing article, please follow the link below. I’m really hoping that this one gets some great circulation, so if you like it, please feel free to share it with as many people as you can. As always, thanks for the love and support. I’ll check back in soon.

http://bingemedia.net/2014/04/29/binge-media-sports-shoeless-joe-jackson-v-rick-vaughn/

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Binge Media Sports Fan Vote-Field of Dreams v. Major League

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If you’ve been to Binge Media this week, or have seen my previous post here, then you’ve probably read my 25th Anniversary look back at the movie you voted as your favorite baseball movie last year, Field of Dreams. Over the past few days, I’ve also put up a revisit of another baseball classic, Major League, also celebrating its 25th Anniversary this month. If you’ve not seen it, it can be viewed here, http://bingemedia.net/2014/04/24/binge-media-sports-the-revisit-major-league/.

As I was putting those two pieces together, I thought it might be fun to let my readers vote once again. I’m sure you’ve noticed that I’ve got a thing for getting the audience involved over there, but this one is a little different. If you haven’t already, head over to Binge Media and cast your vote between two classic baseball movies, Field of Dreams v. Major League, and have your voice be heard. I started the vote on Friday morning and it runs until tomorrow, Monday, April 28th, at noon Central time. The reward for those whose movie comes out on top basically get to write the end of a new piece I’m putting together in a fantasy matchup between the two movies. For the details and to cast your vote, click on the link below. Only a little over 24 hours to go, so make sure to get to it today.

http://bingemedia.net/2014/04/25/binge-media-sports-field-of-dreams-v-major-league-fan-vote/