Dons Valentines BlogPost 2/14/2019

I am finally back. I want to start with an insane shout out to my partner in crime in these affairs for being about the best business partner one could ask for. Not only did he check up on me all the time, he covered several blog posts for me and intended to cover an episode until that unruly brother of his took him on a duck hunt. But who can blame him.

As of right now, Dax is 3 weeks and two days old. Jordyn is feeding him while we watch “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia” while I write this post. This three weeks has been… the most trying of my entire life. I never lacked respect before, but now have a new found respect for everyone who has children that have made into adulthood happy and healthy. I have already started to learn things as a father and also had to learn some things for myself that people had already tried to warn me about.

When you have a baby everyone has advice or their own story. Some of that stuff is really helpful. Weird ways they burped their baby or something like that which may come in handy. Also if you have a boy, he will pee on you. And then you will make sure he is covered always. But he will still get you.

One of the things that always caught me was that so many men told me that the moment I held my baby everything would change for me. That women are mothers when they find out they are pregnant and men are fathers when they hold their child. I looked forward to that.

When Dax was born I didn’t experience that instant feeling that everyone talked about. I don’t know if it’s because I was so tired or it didn’t go exactly as we planned or what, but I didn’t feel that and then was nervous. This is all so new and I didn’t know and still don’t know how I’m supposed to feel. All I can do is what feels natural.

I took three weeks off of work and had a fair amount of time to think about what I wanted or whatever was on my mind. And it took until the third week for me to figure it out. Dax has some days where he is inconsolable. The nurses at our local hospital call it “the phase of purple crying“ and gave us a DVD to help us deal with it. It essentially breaks down that sometimes your baby just cries, and there isn’t anything to be done. Eventually you have done everything but the baby is still upset and it’s easy to get frustrated or upset with yourself because you might think you are doing something wrong, when really you aren’t.

So it’s in the middle of one of these days where I’m trying to let Jordyn get some sleep because she is up every time he wants to eat which can be exhausting. So I’m holding my baby who is screaming at the top of his lungs and has been for 45 minutes, and that’s when it hits me. I know I love him because I wouldn’t accept this behavior from anyone else. Not even my wife. I would just walk away for a while or if it was someone else’s child I would never watch them again.

But when Dax is this upset, as frustrated as I am, all I want is for him to be happy. I want him to be calm so he can sleep and eat and be fulfilled. But it’s not just with this behavior, it’s with everything. Right now in my area we have an average of about 9” of snow and anyone else I would force to go places with me if I wanted them to. My son, I didn’t want to even leave the house if he didn’t have to. I’m limiting the small children I bring my baby around because I am afraid for him to get sick when he is this young. I told my mom yesterday that all I want for him right now is to be safe.

I am beginning to understand what people mean when they say the love you have for your child is indescribable. I don’t mean that in the cliche way like “oh man it’s just so intense I can’t even describe it“. I mean I don’t understand it. Being a father to a newborn is something that is foreign to me in the way my brain works. I have lots of experience with babies and newborns, but spending 3 weeks straight with something that makes no logical sense is extremely difficult to even really comprehend when you live your life based on logic. Because the behavior of a baby is not dictated by any logic past eating, pooping, and sleeping. On my best days I can be very understanding, but on my worst days at 2:30 in the morning? Not always the case.

As I watch my son flail his arms around and every so often slap himself because he doesn’t even know that his hands are attached to his body, I am astounded. Astounded that human beings brains are so wildly complex that we can begin as creatures that are barely sentient and learn and grown and evolve in just a few decades to put people in space or learn to put someone’s face on someone else’s body. It instills an appreciation for people that I did not have before, but now do not think I will ever lose.

I cannot wait to see Dax grow up and choose a path for his life so that I can say that I have seen the entire scope of his progression of intelligence, at least as much as I could. I’m sure when he is an adult I will eat those words and want this time back when he relied on us and was actually comforted by us instead of annoyed by us. Right now I just try to take it day by day and make sure I am doing everything I can to do my best everyday.

Donavan Phillips

Episode 46 of SOS Podcast!

On this episode Don and Offie take a long look at the government shut down to help breakdown how we got here, whos fault it is and some ideas on how to get us out. Why hydro power is not considered a “green energy”, why the term “the wall” might actually be the problem, what it means to Don to be an American, thoughts of a vacation for the Offies , why Don doesn’t lie and reactions to his last blog post, some things Offie learned and reasons why he went into the Coast Guard, and did anyone know Kim and Kanye had four kids? also a HUGE staff changing SPORTS!!

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BlogPost 1/3/2019: Fatherhood Approaches

On the show this week I had said I was going to do my blog post on a book by Toni Morrison that my Grandma had asked me to read. I changed my mind. Not because of the book, because it was pretty alright, but because my mind has been consumed with the incoming arrival of Dax in all arenas. Offie and I talked in the intro of this weeks’ show about part of what has been on my mind and I decided I would expand on that instead so that this isn’t just a forced piece of writing.

Without harping on it too much or trying to make myself sound special, growing up without a father is something that affected me in many ways as a child and continues to affect me today. When I look back on it now, I don’t think I realized how much it affected me when I was a child. My parents were divorced when I was 2, and I think I was 5 when he moved from Washington to Oregon and then eventually to Arizona where he lives now. I have some memories from when he lived here, getting ice cream in his big blue truck, him working on his big blue truck, him helping us move into our house on Quinault, one fight between him and my Mom, and then my next memories are from visiting him in Arizona.

I think I was 7 or 8 the first time my sister and I went to visit my Dad, and I was either 9 or 10 the first time I went by myself because my Sister had begun to learn of the skeletons in my Dads closet that I was too young to be told about. So I continued to visit my father by myself until I learned those same secrets. I can’t honestly say I learned much in the times I DID visit. I wasn’t really into sports when I was a kid but not because of my Dad not being around and I can’t honestly attest to whether or not he would have made me if he was around so that wasn’t a traditional aspect I missed out on, but I did feel it early.

There are the more traditional male things that I missed out on like being shown how to properly do yard work, learning how to work on cars or use power tools, maybe being shown guns and made more comfortable around them. I don’t like to focus on this too much because I honestly don’t know my Dad well enough to know if he would have taught me these things if he WAS around. But if he IS into those things, I could maybe have been made comfortable with them sooner or been exposed to them in a safer environment than I was.

This may be totally unconnected but to this day I am apprehensive but eventually comfortable using big power saws and tools. This first gun I saw was one shown to be by someone I will not disclose, but the gun was not registered to them and had been used in a crime. Someone had to show me how to change a tire the first time mine went flat when I was 18. The things I know about cars are limited to the things I have had to fix on my own. I did yard work poorly for years because I was just told to do it and not generally given instructions, because the women in my house didn’t want to do that.

Outside of these are the things that people may not think about or could possibly take for granted. There is a healthy list of things that were decided to be my responsibility when I was growing up “Because you have a penis” and that is a quote directly from my mother. That didn’t make sense at the time, and felt like an excuse for me to do something none of the women in my house wanted to. There are all kinds of things NOW I won’t let my wife do because I feel they are my job as a male: picking up dead animal gifts left by our cats, picking up cat or dog vomit in the house, mowing the yard, washing the cars, etc… It took me years of this being explained to me by OTHER peoples fathers that there are just somethings that you are supposed to do for your wife and the women you love, but without it being presented in the right way and by the right person, it doesn’t make the impression it should.

I now understand that these things, these responsibilities of a man, CAN be learned from a woman and can even be better learned that way. But it takes the maturity and objectivity of a grown person, that which a child is not old or experienced enough to comprehend, to understand and be able to see the difference that I was not. That even though my mother and I communicate in vastly different ways and that what she was saying to me WAS that these things are things a man should do and I would eventually have to do for my wife, I just didn’t perceive it that way. I was not able to separate the person telling me with the information I was receiving.

Hard as it was to deal with learning to be a man without what I perceived as anyone to teach me to be a man, as I said I am now able to look back at my upbringing with my Sister, Mother, and Grandmother and see the valuable lessons I was able to learn. Easiest to remember and probably guess, I always felt incredibly comfortable around women. From family to strangers to girls that I had feelings for, I never had or really even understood the problems other boys my age had with talking to girls they liked. It was always first nature to me to speak the same “language” that the teenage girls I was courting did. I was open and honest with how I felt and unafraid to show my feelings (which was actually a very convenient cover for not being able to CONTROL my feelings). This coupled with my large stature and natural gift with words is largely how I got my beautiful wife.

On top of this I was around to hear the stories from my Sister, Mom and Grandmother of their boyfriends, husbands and ex husbands and the grave mistakes and missteps they had made, but also of the things they loved the most and would never forget. I can promise you I learned more from the bad stories than the good. And the older I get, the more boyfriends my sister has and the more stories I hear from my Mom about my Dad, or from my Grandma about the incredible man that my Grandpa was and how proud he would be of me for who I have become and who I have been able to shape myself into.

There is no doubt, as I told Colin this week on the show, that if my Dad or Grandpa were around my life would be drastically different. Shaping my image of what I think a man should be or the man I want to be may or may not have been easier, that I can’t know for sure. Learning some of the skills I am learning now, or the skills I WANTED to learn may have been easier. That I can’t know for sure. What I DO know for sure is that everyday, the confidence I have in my ability to be a strong father to Dax grows. The doubt and hesitation I felt when the discussions of fatherhood began, are largely mitigated.

While I see extreme value in the presence of a steady father in the raising of a child, I recognize now that in that lack of such father, it is simply necessary for the correct roles, responsibilities, and skills to be imprinted on a young man in a way that they can be recalled when proper growth and maturity has been reached. It is vital that the child be raised with the understanding of what being a strong man, husband, and father means and for that, a father is not always required.

Episode 45 of Salt of The Streets

With a new theme song and the same routine Don and Offie are back and talk about what it’s like to be a son with no father, the withdrawal of troops from Syria and the subsequent resignation of James Mattis, the temporary partial government shutdown , why it is important to understand basic civics, some details from the newly Senate-passed farm bill, the difference between “the wall” and “border security”, the decriminalization of drugs and prostitution, and a healthy SPORTS!!

We want to thank all of the members of Upper Left for their work on our INCREDIBLE new theme song, we couldn’t be any more please with it. You guys are amazing. You can find all of their music on there SoundCloud HERE!

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“12 Rules For Life” Series, Part 9

Here we are. I missed last week of the podcast to take a week with Jordyn before the baby gets here. It was great. Instead of a standard cast, Offie did an interview with his boss that I have yet to listen to, but I think ties in with the rule I read this week which is “Assume that the person you are listening to knows something that you don’t”. All of the rules in Dr. Peterson’s book could benefit the majority of the population, but this one I think in particular.

I think that may be a problem with A LOT of people. I know that for a long time and even sometimes now, it is for me. It’s something you can put on a lot of kids my age that came out of college somewhere and think that they know more or better than everyone else around them. Everyone hates people like that. It’s near impossible to have a real conversation with people like that, so that’s one reason right off the top that you may want to adopt this rule into your life.

I also see this rule kind of in two parts. One is exactly what the rule says, that you should assume you can learn something from everyone you talk to, but the second is slightly deeper and has to do with the WAY that people communicate. Part of this chapter is breaking down several different kinds of conversations that people have depending on their intent or what they look to gain from the conversation itself. Other than just being informative on how the mind works, this section reminded me of the all too common practice of not listening to what people are saying, but simply waiting for your turn to talk.

That is something we all do and it’s always wrong. It doesn’t seem that there is anything right about that if you are trying to have a productive and useful conversation. It’s rude to the person you are talking to and kind of wastes the time they took even talking. It deprives you of the possibility of really enjoying their story or possibly learning something useful, and it also shows that you CAN’T have a conversation and don’t listen which may stop that person from wanting to talk to you in the future and in turn hinders your ability to learn things from them in the future. That could be a bridge you don’t want to burn and you did it by just being a crappy listener.

Without having ever been to college outside of running start, I was one of those annoying college kids that everyone hates. At the risk of sounding like a douche, I am pretty smart. I’m no genius but I can hold my own. When I was younger and in school I was getting feedback on my schoolwork and having a really easy time with things like reading and writing and it partially fed to an ego in those realms. At 16 I was taking my first college classes in running start and decided I knew better than my first English Professor.

I was never into writing outlines; in school we were taught a three phase writing process of outline, rough draft, final draft, and at a certain point I stopped doing the outline. I was skilled enough that I didn’t need it in public school and could still write a great paper. The same was true for the papers I was assigned in running start both that we were to use the 3 phase writing process and I didn’t need all 3 to get an A. I was told that to get full credit I needed to do an outline and instead of just doing the outline as instructed because that was part of the assignment, I took lower grades on all of my papers in that class to try and prove some kind of point.

After receiving 5 B’s instead of A’s I still convinced myself I was getting the upper hand because my papers were good enough for an A but just wasn’t getting them. Obviously no level of arguing swayed my grades because I was told plainly that in order for me to receive full credit I would have to do an outline, but I didn’t listen. And that teacher knew something I didn’t, that it’s better to take the time and get the grade then die on a hill you don’t care about. I never started writing the outlines. It took until my job at Benik that I learned sometimes things just are how they are, and its not worth questioning but DEFINITELY  worth listening when someone tells you that. I talked about that with Dave and Colin when we talked about learning the idea of “trusting the wheel”.’

The second part I see of this is, like I said, more of a surface take but similar to the first one. If you assume the person you are talking to has nothing to offer you or isn’t going to say something you don’t know, you rob yourself of the opportunity to learn from that person and can make yourself look stupid at the same time. I remember one of the big political conversations Colin and I had in the beginning was after the congressional baseball shooting in June of 2017.

Colin and I have also discussed gun policy on the cast before and this conversation was similar, but slightly more heated. Coming from the right Colin defended gun rights to the end and coming from the left, all I could talk about was some kind of control over guns. I have NEVER been a person who doesn’t want citizens to have access to guns, but in our adolescent political stage Colin assumed that is what I meant when I was referring to gun control. Because I was wound up (imagine that), I came at Colin pretty twisted about having assumed that about me.

He had lots of good reasons to assume that I wanted to ban guns, I used to carry much more radical views about the government. But since we stopped listening to each other a few minutes into the conversation (again I think understandably) we stopped ourselves from being able to learn anything from one another, even where the other actually stood. That’s the reason it took us three or four tries at that SAME conversation for it to be productive and for us to not only understand each others point of view but to expand our own and consider other options.

I think, as I said before, that this is a problem a lot of people have, and that’s why it was so easy at the time and understandable to me now for us to close each other off, but to continue talking. So many people are having conversations just to make noise with their face and try and spread the knowledge they may or may not actually have. They don’t want to challenge their own ideas and the ideas of others, which is supposed to be the point of a civil discourse.

You have to have your ideas challenged to solidify your arguments against the holes people are able to poke in them. Not listening to what people have to say and not allowing your ideas to be challenged sets you into a path of perpetually seeking support for your own ideas, which is what leads people into believing a single person over a group of verified and vetted reporters. It’s what leads people into parroting ideas they can’t even explain and trying to blame other peoples for their problems and build walls to keep them out. There are probably dozens if not hundreds of qualities that the perfect person would have, but I am certain that being an incredible listener would be one. Talking is a vital part of life, but listening even more so, and when you are carrying out a conversation you should allow that person to challenge your ideas and in turn help you grow. You should always assume that the person you are listening to knows something that you don’t.


-Donavan Phillips

Episode 43 is LIVE!

On episode 43 of Salt of The Streets podcast Don and Offie cover as much information as they have on the closed door Senate briefing given by CIA Director Gina Haspel about the killing of Jamal Khashoggi, a deeper look into the positive and negative take aways from the life of George H W Bush, the Miami Miracle is caught on audio with Don’s reaction, discussion about honesty in all its forms, and in the grab bag Paul McCartney draws emotion from a late night host, The White House demands decorum, France rebels against fuel taxes and as always, SPORTS!!

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“12 Rules For Life” Series, Part 8

It’s been like, 18 or so weeks that I’ve been doing this series. I decided to do away with the formality. These blog posts won’t be anywhere as casual as the language on the show so I won’t be saying ‘fuck’ every fifth word, but these ARE blog posts and especially in the spirit of this week I want to be as true to myself as possible.

Rule 8 in Dr. Peterson’s book is ” tell the truth- or, at least, don’t lie”. I love that. I may have said some variant of this before but this rule is one of my favorites, but in the sense that it’s one that I implement the most in my life. This idea is part of what got Offie and I to Salt of The Streets. The search and attempted execution of the truth.

I used to lie ALL the time. For no reason. This is by NO MEANS an excuse but possibly a partial explanation, my sister is 7 years older than me and she STILL lies constantly. Primarily to herself. She was a big influence in my life pretty much through high school and so were all the people she hung out with. Some of those people turned into my brothers, like David who I talk about all the time, and others never taught me a positive thing.

I lied, I cheated, I stole pretty much any time I had the opportunity. For no reason. Not always, but I probably started lying regularly the same time I started smoking pot which was 12-13 years old. Not something I’m proud of, but just a fact of my reality. I started stealing regularly around age 15. From random people mostly but some from family which was the worst part of all. Never money or valuables, just drugs or alcohol or cigarettes. Which doesn’t make it any better, except maybe to me. Once I started to sell drugs to support all of my habits, I started lying to and stealing from anyone I could or had to to make a little extra money or just make myself look better.

One of the points Dr. Peterson makes in this chapter is that all big lies are made of smaller ones, and ever if you only tell small lies they will culminate in a large one. I found that so incredibly true. I remember when my sister and mom discovered I had been stealing weed and cigarettes from them. I had been lying about it for so long, but just little lies every time. Eventually they came together in a lie large enough to sever the relationship I had with my sister and her friends because they were just that. HER friends. They didn’t want to hang out with a kid who was stealing from his family. My mom couldn’t trust anything I had said from the moment she started to suspect someone was taking her stuff, and then questioned everything I said afterward, with good reason.

I also lied about homework and assignments I had done which only culminated in a struggle to graduate. Not being honest with myself when I finished school led me to trying to marry a girl I didn’t love because I was going to join the military and didn’t want to be alone. That’s wrong for so many reasons, including the fact that my lies to myself were about to ruin the life of some girl who barely knew better. Lying is wrong. We all know that. But lying to yourself can be some of the worst lies of all.

That’s something else I took from this chapter is how much Dr. Peterson focuses on lying to yourself, or self deception. People most commonly lie to themselves about what they want to do with their lives – part of that is accepting that sometimes your truth changes. You don’t always know what you want. People, especially kids in college, spend X-amount of dollars going to school for X-amount of years and then if they come out on the back end with a degree in science but end up wanting to be an artist, they have so much invested already in what they thought they wanted that they will lie to try and convince themselves that’s indeed what they want. No one will ever be happy living in self deception.

But part of what Dr. Peterson said in this chapter is that sometimes being honest with yourself is understanding that you are wrong. It is a lie to try and convince yourself that what you have now is better than what you could have. It is a lie to live your life doing something that makes you unhappy. I don’t know if cutting neoprene is what I want to do for the rest of my life, but I know right now that it makes me feel fulfilled. It provides for my family, I have learned an incredibly specific trade, (but a trade none the less) and I get to improve peoples lives everyday.

Until a few weeks ago I thought I might cut neoprene for the rest of my life, which halfway scared me and halfway made me feel secure. I know (or at least feel extremely confident) that I could be employed at this company for the rest of my life. I feel comfortable at this job and seem to be fairly good at it. But nothing makes me feel as happy as seeing someones face light up when I just helped them connect some dots. Nothing makes me more passionate, as my wife likes to call it, than identifying something that reads to me as an injustice to even a small group of people.

It scares me sometimes to think about not working or even about the thought of telling my bosses that I am going to go and do something else after they have invested so much time in me. But, especially after reading this chapter, I understand that even if the place you are feels like it couldn’t get any better, that’s ignorant. Ignorant of the possibilities that await or even the possibility OF possibilities. You have to stay open to the world around you to truly be honest with yourself.

My favorite thing I read in this chapter was about identifying a lie. Dr. Peterson said after a certain amount of time he was able to connect lies he was telling with a terrible feeling in the pit of my stomach, which I agreed with completely. I have said a thousand times that I follow my stomach. It’s how I run my life and how I decide what is right. Once you identify what it feels or looks like when you lie, you can do your best to avoid it. When I made a conscious decision to stop lying, my life got much much better. I got a series of increasingly improving jobs. I got together with my wife. I met Colin. My wife got pregnant. All of these things would not have come to fruition had I not begun to just be honest.

This is something I advocate to EVERYONE I know. Just be honest. All the time. If someone says something you don’t think is true, say that. Don’t be a dick about it, but say something. If you don’t know what you want to do with your life, consider all options no matter the stigma that you have established around them. Be true to yourself about what matters to you and what doesn’t. Pick the hills you are willing to die on. Pick your battles, but know which ones are really important to you. Live your life the best way you can, the first step to that is the be honest- or, at least, don’t lie.