For When The World Stops Standing Still

EVENTS — Creatively Lancaster

Let’s be real. We have no blessed idea what happens from here, I mean, once the lights go back on. Because to believe there will ever be a normal kind of normal, well . . that went away with September 11th. Everything and every day since has been a differently textured sense of normalcy, to which we held because there is something called the everyday to attend to, after all.

Now this, and now the world . . the whole entirety of it, holds its breath in anticipation of light at the end of a tunnel we never saw coming.

Things will change, because that’s how any kind of abrupt intermezzi works on the human psyche. We change, if only in miniature. But still, the things we hold to will have their aesthetic pulp to which we can still be quenched. Just this morning, I was thinking about certain of these items to which my pulse expands. And I knew that no matter what the world ends up looking like on the B side of things, these things will hold me to.

Always.

  • Walking into a baseball stadium and looking out over the field of play and just marveling at the heavenly construction. Wondering how it was possible that someone conceived this mystical design: the idea that fielders could master the vast expanse and pitchers would be able to make a small white pill speak foreign languages whilst hitters could turn on one in the time it takes to blink? And the dimensions of that diamond will seem the most fantastical endeavor of them all. As legendary columnist Red Smith once opined, “Ninety feet between bases is perhaps as close as man has ever come to perfection”.
  • The hush that comes over a movie theater when the crackle of the featured attraction starts to pop across the screen.
  • That buzz, the gloriously definable buzz that washes over a restaurant as dozens of loose conversations weave themselves together. Accompanied by mysterious noises from an unseen kitchen, the clink of glasses. And laughter, ransoming its way across the walls as if you could pick it up and take some for yourself.
  • Standing in front of a piece of art and letting time fall away, like so many leaves on a mysterious tree. Wondering what captured the imagination of the artist to figure out that kind of magic.
  • Running in the park on a spring morning as I pass by a fellow who’s having better luck with his smokes than with dinner. Dogs run across the emerald sweep as their owners toss them a ball. While kids and their parents negotiate the parameters of their afternoon and kites break the sky into small and wondrous pieces.
  • Hugging
  • The sound of a jet overhead as it navigates the muffled crease of a moonlit night. And for a moment, you wonder where that plane is going to and where it came from. And how the world is just this: A collection of fragmented stories, pieced into billions of pieces we will never get to know. And yet, we somehow understand.
  • High fives
  • Book stores, whose perimeters are lined with pilgrims of the written word and java junkies and festering brush fires of idle conversations.
  • City traffic that gets captured by a photographers lens and immortalized in a million different ways that we somehow take for granted.
  • A stranger’s smile
  • Holding hands

For now I lay my head on the pillow and think about a world that caught fire. And perchance there is a dream to be had, and if so I want to dream about some quiet, normal day when all of this will be relegated to hushed whispers.

And nothing more than that.

You Can’t Make This Stuff Up

There’s a reason why time machines are a really bad idea. Oh sure, it’s kitchy to imagine yourself as a modern day Marty McFly. But have you ever stopped to consider how ridiculous the future looks? Just for a moment, imagine telling someone in 2000 what history would look like in 2020. Here are ten items off the top of my head . . . .

  • Liam Neeson will be known as an action movie star
  • The Twin Towers will have been gone almost twenty years
  • Phones go mobile and people can literally do everything on them
  • Movie theaters are still a thing. Blockbuster is not
  • Tom Brady (who?) and the New England Patriots (what?) were the greatest dynasty in the history of American sports
  • A pandemic will thrust the entire world into lock down
  • The Boston Red Sox and Chicago Cubs are no longer title punchlines
  • Donald Trump will be President
  • Social media addiction is a thing
  • No one gets lost thanks to GPS, no one goes on a ‘blind date’ thanks to Tinder and everyone remembers your birthday thanks to Facebook

The moral of the story is to remain in the present, because the future is much too crazy a thing to contemplate.

 

 

The World’s Largest Poker Game

Please Follow the Beatles' Example for Social Distancing During ...

It’s the end of the world as we know it and I feel sorry for the close talkers.

And the high fivers, them too. They were fringe players before COVID-19, so you can hand them their walking papers now. Just make sure you’re wearing gloves. Oh wait . . . maybe not.

I’m not taking this pandemic personally. I really don’t think it’s a matter of God smiting us or Ozzy Osbourne haunting us. I kinda see it more as a byproduct of eight billion tenants in a residence not built for such high volume usage. Bad shit starts happening when resources and personal choices camp together. The shit is combustible.

As a true introvert and not a poser who chooses to label themselves as such in order to make friends (a self defeating purpose for the true introvert), I’m okay with the rules. I am miffed at the peeps who rail on about their freedoms being usurped. And I am pissed at the clueless vagabonds who still go to Target to piss around on their phone for an hour and pick up Red Bull. And I would love to send the knuckleheads who want to party like it’s 2019 to a remote island, along with all those genius investors who think the one with the most toilet paper wins. We can send along the 2nd amendment impulse buyers so’s they can play referee.

10 COVID-19 Memes that will Bring a Smile to Your Face ...

As for the COVID-19 Dictionary, it’s chugging right along, and here are a few of my . . . umm . . favorites?

Self Isolation– Shut the front fucking door with this term, please. It’s redundant, and incorrect. If you live alone, then of course your self is isolating. And if you don’t, then you’re simply isolating from others.

Social Distancing– The term is downright Orwellian in its bold font gravitas. Because this is something that guy would’ve gotten drunk on. It’s a term I use, even though I find it incredibly creepy.

Flattening the Curve- It’s like laying down spike strips on a speeding virus in order to lessen the impact on hospitals and infrastructure. It sounds like a show you’d find on Bravo.

Shelter in place- Another redundant term, unless your ‘place’ happens to be a boat. In which case, congratulations. When you shelter in place, it means you’re keeping your ass at home excepting for essential trips such as liquor/grocery/liquor store shopping. If you abide by the two parts liquor store to one part grocery store, you’ll make it through just fine. Ask Ina, she knows.

Viral Shedding- Nope.

Essential Government Functions- That’s a meme . . . right?

Drive Through Testing- You don’t get fries with it.

As for predicting COVID-19, contrary to popular belief, the Simpsons did not call it. And neither did Dean Koontz. In the case of the latter, he got Wuhan and he got 2020 but everything else? Not so much. And sorry movie fans, but the Steven Soderbergh flick Contagion was based on the H1N1 “swine flu” of 2009.

You want a prediction? I’ll give you a few . . .

  • Sports may not come back at all this year. Okay, this is more of a hedge/guess than a prediction. But that’s only because too many peeps still take sports too seriously. We should be concerned for all the working Joes and Janes whose jobs have been lost instead of whining about not having sports.
  • Joe Biden’s Vice Presidential choice? Barack Obama.
  • This adaptation of our everyday lives will have ripple effects. Many consumers will stop buying in to big league sports because it (finally) occurs to them that this stuff isn’t essential . . . and they’re getting fleeced. Masks will become a fashion staple for some. Streaming PPV concerts will become more popular. The Anti-Vaxers Movement has met its end. The Survivalists Guide to stockpiling is just getting started.
  • Health care will become more streamlined thanks to budget cuts. This will not be a good thing.

The system has been upended and the idea that our behaviors will not be influenced as a result is not just foolish, it’s dangerous. Our politics is already building cabins on the mountainous terrain of this time. Corporations will pimp their brands in caridad, but profits will become more important than ever. Which means sharper corners to cut in the form of more low wage jobs, an increased reliance on AI and the environment? Fuck that place!

It stands to reason the most important work force will involve humanistic enterprises. So if you’re one of those peeps who insists on being a brand? Stop. Go back to being a human being while there’s still time. Because if we keep whittling humanity down like this, pretty soon it’s going to turn into a spear.

I’m of the opinion that this time in our world’s history has been a warning. We either heed this clarion call or we suffer the consequences when the next strain of ungodly comes calling and decides it’s time to wipe the slate clean. And of course there are going to be plenty of peeps who snicker at such a thought, insisting it could never happen to us.

Uh . . . weren’t we just saying that a few months ago?

 

 

Heroes Of Every Week

Photo of health care workers flying to help NY gets love

This is a picture of health care workers from Georgia on-board a Southwest flight bound for New York. A loving army whose mission is to provide the shelter in the face of an unyielding storm. They are the front lines in this battle against a relentless enemy, and they fight not for a particular flag or country or political party. The battle they wage is for humankind. And if this global pandemic has taught us anything, it’s to understand ourselves as citizens not of one place but of all places. A lesson brought home by our health care workers.

New Orleans Saints QB Drew Brees, wife donate $5M for coronavirus ...

I’ve been an outspoken critic of the New Orleans Saints for quite some time, but then perspective happened. Their head coach, Sean Payton, tested positive for COVID-19. And all of a sudden I couldn’t remember why any of that other stuff mattered as much as hoping he got better. And then of course there is Drew Brees and his wife Brittany, who do great things on the regular. This week came the announcement they will be donating $5 million dollars to various charities throughout Louisiana- one of the hardest hit states. These two make up one hell of a championship team.

Shin-Soo Choo giving $1,000 to every player in Rangers' farm system

With no sports on the calendar, this doesn’t mean the athletes who entertain us aren’t getting things done. Shin-Soo Choo provides us with yet another example of this. The Texas Rangers outfielder is donating $1,000 dollars to every minor leaguer in his organization. The dude doesn’t hide behind his big major league contract when giving back to those in need is a much better idea.

Frank over at the now retired A Frank Angle chimed in this week with a beautiful story about a man and his never ending quest to find the good in this world. I’ll let Frank tell it from here.

Beloved TV Reporter Broadcasts From Home to Help Children With Mr ...

Steve Hartman isn’t an everyday Joe – he’s a reporter for CBS News who captures good stories. Because Coronavirus has taken him off the road, he did an online course for kids about kindness … Kindness 101. I had seen various reports through the week about his project, but here’s the final one that I saw this evening.

A Minnesota trooper pulled over a doctor for speeding and gave her ...

When Dr. Sarosh Janjua was pulled over for speeding on a Minnesota highway recently, she figured there was a debit to her bank account on her horizon. The cardiologist from Massachusetts travels to the North Star State once a month for work and on this particular day, she met the wrong end of state trooper Brian Schwartz‘s radar gun. But instead of a fine, Schwartz gave her a heartfelt reprimand to keep it safe and then handed her five N95 masks. The gesture left Janjua in tears, that for one beautiful moment in time, were joyous ones.

Dale over at A Dalectable Life has chimed in with a couple of winners this week. And yes, Imma keep using sporting terms since there ain’t no sports in sight . .

Susan Ryan and Wynn.

Her first get involves a service dog in training named Wynn who is already earning her stripes and then some as she provides respite to medical staff who find themselves in the midst of a frightening battle in Denver, Colorado. Wynn is being trained to become an assistance dog for Canine Companions for Independence -an organization that provides assistance dogs free of charges to those in need.

“Seeing stuff and hearing stuff that you can’t unsee has an impact on you,” Says Susan Ryan, an emergency physician at Rose Medical Center “That’s where the dogs come in. When you are in the presence of the dog and petting them you are taking a moment to ground yourself at that present time.”

The one year old yellow lab gives the staff something that is in seriously short supply these days: Peace of mind.

Chris Waba came over to Rylee Anderson's house to give her a face-to-face lesson while social distancing.

Like millions of students across the country, twelve year old Rylee Anderson is continuing her education in a virtual classroom this spring. So when the middle schooler from Madison, South Dakota struggled to get a grasp on her algebra work, her teacher took it upon himself to give her some much appreciated one on one instruction. So Chris Waba showed up on her front porch with a whiteboard and his marker.

They spent the next ten minutes working it out from different sides of her front porch door. Because as Waba puts it, he’s always communicated best when face to face with his students. And this current state of the world we live in wasn’t going to change the way Waba has been doing his thing for the past twenty seven years. Because that’s how we make it through this time. By understanding that the little things? Can be a really big deal.

My last story is about an exchange I had with a nurse whilst in line at the grocery store the other day. It was a simple conversation inside this most complex of times, as we adhered to the necessary commandment of a social distance. She was frazzled and scared, even if she never admitted as much. Fear is the kind of desperate knell those in the field of health care dare not ring. But I could tell her stiff upper lip was a trembling mess when there was nobody around to keep score.

I wanted to hug her and tell her that everything was going to be alright. But I knew that was against the rules, and it almost made me cry to think that we really don’t know when things get back to being alright again. And thank God for her, and for all the other people whose job it is to stand in front of a tsunami and maintain that stiff upper lip.

Before she left, she thanked me for the conversation and I thanked her for everything she is doing. She gave me a tired laugh, her face worn down with all the worst case scenarios she must somehow accept in order to do her job.

“I just want to go home,”

 

Heroes Of The Week- You Edition

This week is yours. When all the reading and the love you give to this spot comes hurtling back at you in the form of a well deserved hug. Pick up this hug, and know that you made it possible. Gracias.

Now for the Heroes you brought to Friday . . .

Image result for La La Land Kind Cafe hires foster kids

Mark over at markpaxson.com decided that Rand Paul probably isn’t going to be worthy of any humanitarian awards in the near or distant future, and he’s probably spot on in this assessment. So when I was doing my casting call, he left a comment in which he said he would get back to me. Erudite chap that he is, he got back to me in no time flat with, as he put it, “Somebody doing something about a frequently forgotten segment of our society…”

It’s a story about the La La Land Kind Cafe in Dallas Texas. The owner, Francois Reihani, hires young people who have aged out of the foster care system. So far, he’s employed nine of these kids. Because Reihani believes it’s about kindness every bit as much as it’s about coffee.

Those are some cool beans they’re brewing.

Monika at Tails Around The Ranch contributed a beauty from her neck of the woods. It’s about some local distillers (She’s quick to point out other states are doing it as well). who have retrofitted their equipment in order to . . . get this all you hand sanitizer hoarders and price gougers . . give the stuff away to firefighters and other first responders. And since I totally plagiarized her comment, I’ll let her tell you why it matters, because she does a wonderful job of bringing it all home.

The state fast tracked approval to make the switch on the equipment. This story really touched me since a few years ago the Town of Lyons flooded and resulting in being completely cut off from in-or-out access to any surrounding areas/towns. They lost their water/sewer plant. It took months for the state to rebuild roads in to repair/replace damaged homes/buildings. To be able to come back and give to their community makes them big-time heros in my book.

Could not have said it better myself, Monika.

Image result for cuban doctors go to Italy

Dale over at A Dalectable Life ain’t just a lovely connoisseur of photography and great eats. She dresses up the written word in sunshine on the regular as well. And she is a voracious hunter and gatherer of feel good news pieces, as evidenced by her many contributions to this Friday edition over the last year and change.

She chimed in with this story about how Cuba recently sent a 52 doctor brigade to Italy in response to the devastating wake of the virus. The communist country has already done the same in a half dozen other countries, as its emergency preparedness is proving to be a model of effectiveness- at home and abroad. According to Graciliano Díaz, the Cuban contingent is committed to this ‘honorable task, based on the principle of solidarity.

It would be nice if every country put its politics aside and followed suit.

John at Fiction Favorites sent me a video to share with you for this Friday edition. It’s Matthew McConaughey dishing up some much needed love for Austin, Texas . . and for all of us. It’s only a couple minutes long, but it’s a virtual hug and “We Got This” that is much appreciated inside these trying times. The dude is quirky, and you know that? That’s plenty fine with me, because underneath all that quirkiness resides a heart the size of the place he calls home.

Alls I gotta say is Alright! Alright! Alright!

Image result for Bay View Wisconsin Dino Parade

And for my last story, I paid a virtual visit to Bay View Wisconsin. It’s a throwback neighborhood sewn into the shores of Lake Michigan. The ancestral lineage of this town speaks to laborers and the community they dreamed for their children inside lifetimes so long removed from here.

That future love paradise came calling recently when the residents of Bay View got together for a parade. But not just any parade, since we’re . .  yanno, living inside the operative social precepts of a moment in time where keeping your distance has taken on a literal form.

So this parade, it took all of these things into consideration in a most prehistoric fashion sense. Their solution was to dress up like dinosaurs and march together, at six foot intervals, through the place they call home. As a way of saying that it’s okay not to be okay with all of this. But it’s never going to be okay to lose our sense of humor, or our ability to figure a way back.

Imma finish this episode off by saying thank you to all my contributors, and to let you know that this idea will become yet another new feature going forward. Because you guys are always telling me how much you look forward to this Friday post, and I ain’t gonna lie. I never saw it coming.

You did.

 

Casting Call For Heroes Fans

Image result for ted williams

If you’re a regular to this joint, then you’ve probably happened upon the Heroes episodes we dish up every Friday for your viewing feel good. You kept things going when I thought maybe it was just a phase. And by you, I mean anyone who looks forward to this little corner of the world when the end of the week comes calling.

You made Heroes a place worth coming to. I simply captained the thing into harbor thanks to your earnest chimes, which behave very much like gold on the dollar when it comes to the keeping on. So . . I don’t do this kind of thing but I figured maybe one or two or three of you might be down with it.

Send me a story that hits you in the feel good and I’ll post it on Friday. You can simply provide the link in your comment and I’ll make sure it gets pub love. Worst case scenario is nobody contributes and Heroes still shows up in the regularly scheduled programming. Best case scenario is I get all the stories I need through you for this week, and if it’s more than five? Well . . I ain’t presumptuous like that, but a boy is allowed to dream.

As for writing, I was practicing my short game this morning. I hope you like.

He remembered back to those nights inside the dusty wings of a very forgettable March. Back into the hopeless design of bad news gone caterwaul in episodic bonfires that left Caesar’s ghost to hemorrhage in its eternal playpen.  The days painted themselves in a haphazard chaste whose vicious prongs were sinking empires across the globe. And so he peddled elixirs in the recitations of Angelou, Wilde, Cummings, Morrison and his personal favorite, Kinsella.

The spoken verses were akin to candles in a church, sacred vows left behind by masters and mistresses of the written word for the sake of prayer. Each syllable a testimonial to the peaceful resistance of words inside a chaotic world. The stories were plush to his fractured brain, and the sound of each word tasted like fruit as it trespassed his lips. And he went on like this, plucking a snippet here and a paragraph there and joining them together in a brilliant quilt whose song redeemed the shadowy fates.

It went like this from March into April and then with May came the first idea that life would begin to take its traditional place setting back. Only now, he had ashes to confer to the winds of change. The world, his world, would prove to be extraordinarily different with each step into whatever came next. Oh sure, it was easy to promise such a thing when the end of the world had seemed an abject patent. All the same, he was aligned to a different star from here on out. And he knew it was impossibly difficult to comprehend, but he had seen the beginning inside the merciless clench of the end.

So it was that a June day found him tucked into a box seat along the third base line, holding to a foot long as his beer lost its froth. The sun shone down like a promise from Jay Gatsby, full of a million different promises. The field was a stained glass portrait of emerald fusing with ivory and caramel. How could he have ever taken such a beautiful thing as an early summer day at the ballpark for granted?

He cried at the thought.

In The Darkness Came A Light

Kim Kardashian called. She wants her first world problems back.

Okay, maybe it’s not quite as dreadful or hopeless as Vladimir Putin was hoping it might turn out. Unless you hang out on the Twitter or Reddit sites, which I do not recommend you do unless dystopian soap opera plots are your jam. And just so you know, I’m not saying Vlad the Impaler of Hope had anything to do with this virus. His powers are limited to horse back riding without a shirt, eating cinnamon encrusted beef jerky without need for water and fucking with our elections.

Europe currently has a “Do Not Disturb” sign up as it has been hit especially hard. Tom Hanks and his lovely wife Rita are literally castaways as we speak. The Utah Jazz have gotten more pub than if they would have won the NBA title simply by having a couple of players test positive. Americans of all stations and status from coast to coast are providing an ever expanding face to this virus.

You know things have gotten serious when sports get shut down, because nothing gets in the way of our sports. Not two World Wars. Not the assassination of a President. Not even September 11th. But the dominoes which began with the cancellation of March Madness has crept into the NBA and NHL suspending play while the MLB has scrapped spring training and is moving back opening day.

Without benefit of games, ESPN has had to rely on journalism. Which is another way of saying that ratings have plummeted. Casinos are closing. Retailers are posting limits on toilet paper and hand sanitizer purchases. Web MD is currently a more popular site than Porn Hub.

If you’re young, consider this a vacation from the every day. Your immune systems are assembly line peach in comparison to us folks of a certain age. I’m in that notoriously provocative middle earth population of peeps who consider sneezing a four letter word. And if this tunnel doesn’t start giving us a little sunlight, we may have to resort to punching anyone who coughs inside our bubble. Nothing personal, of course.

And really, that’s the whole thing right there, isn’t it? This isn’t personal, unless we really want to make it so. Because right now, as a species, we still have the ability to stoke that fledgling spirit inside us that believes humanity is a pretty okay place to be. Even on its shittiest days, the world usually gives us something to latch onto. Hope really is riding shotgun, idiomatically speaking. And now more than ever, this is happening if we extricate ourselves from dark web searches for toilet paper and hand sanitizers. If we just let ourselves consider that human beings have been through a hell of a lot worse than this. Hell, we somehow survived the election of 2016, after all.

Let’s just sit back and take a deep breath, and let’s consider someone who has tested positive. Let’s think about what their families and friends are going through right now before we whine about not having picked up extra beer and chips in the event we’re holed up for a couple weeks time. Let’s just put ourselves in someone else’s head for a simple moment, and do something novel inside a time when looking out for yourself has become status. Let’s pray for them. That they make it through this thing with nothing more than a lousy t-shirt. Humanity is the only inventory we should be concerned with right now. Because to my way of thinking, the darkest of times is when the light is needed most. So it’s okay if our grocery list consists of a little humility, a little compassion and a whole lot of gratitude.

There’s a town called Siena, tucked inside a hilly region of Tuscany between the valleys and the clouds. Italy has been hit especially hard by COVID-19 and so the residents of this charming little medieval arrangement of castles and cathedrals have been relegated to their homes as a result. But rather than bemoan this solitary existence fraught with ever more daunting scenarios, the people of Siena fixed themselves on a different approach. On the night of March 13th, one of the quarantined residents let loose with a song that floated from one window to another to another . . until the entire street was draped in music.

So this one little song from this one little town, I gotta think maybe it was telling us something. Maybe it was telling us that to dwell on the bold font headlines of gloom and doom is to miss the point. Maybe instead of focusing on what we are inside these moments, maybe we should focus on something much more powerful.

What we can be.

 

Searching Paul Simon’s cutting room floor

Dogs are one of the few creatures on this earth capable of unconditional love. The rest of us are negotiating the terms daily . . . 

There are two types of romantic advice seekers: The ones who want you to talk them into something, and my friend Barry. I’ll call him Barry since that’s his name. I’ve probably mentioned the guy in a post at some point, seeing as how he sifts my brain for intel on the opposite sex. Which is akin to asking the captain of the Titanic for directions to New York City. But it’s not a paragon of valuable information Barry is looking for. He just wants someone to talk him out of his current situation. .

I refuse to be complicit in this crime of passionless. All I do is ask questions, make observations which have no basis in fact since I don’t know the woman, and supply witty banter, pro bono no less. So if you ask me, he is getting exactly what he paid for.

A top five most popular topics of conversation Barry has introduced regarding his rodeo partner? Sure why not . . . .

The Past- So it seems that Cersei Lannister (Not her real name, of course. Because I’m not crazy enough to use her real name. Barry’s one thing. He’s just a retired cop with an extensive gun collection) . . . anyway, sorry for the bloated parenthetical explanation. As I was saying, Cersei Lannister has a problem with Barry’s ex wife. To which I completely understand. I mean, if she didn’t have a problem with his ex wife, I wouldn’t trust her. That said, Cersei also has a problem with Barry’s daughter, whom he takes to dinner once a week. It’s their time and Cersei ain’t crazy about being left out.

In a word? I have a problem with this. She’s forty something and has never had kids, which only adds to the problemacy©, (My word, because I needed to amuse myself since their relationship ain’t amusing in the least). So my advice to Barry was to let Cersei know that his daughter is the only female she doesn’t get to negotiate out of his picture.

The Present- Their preferred method of communication is arguing. They argue over everything. What to eat, what movie to see, where to go on the weekend and oatmeal cookies. Oatmeal. Fucking. Cookies. (He’s Team Traditional, She’s Team Raisins). My advice was simple: When a relationship has devolved into oatmeal cookie arguments, you are Mariana Trenching© it. Sadly, the relationship has bypassed homicide as a solution.

The Future- Barry just moved into a new place, which Cersei really digs because it’s closer to her job. Barry has also been shopping homes outside of Jim Thorpe, which Cersei really doesn’t dig at all because it’s a LOT further away. And it would mean they have to argue about oatmeal cookies over the phone rather than face to face.

I told Barry this house hunting venture is lame. For one thing, even people who want to get away from it all realize they have gone too far if they arrive in Jim Thorpe. For another, he is implementing a passive/aggressive strategy in order to extricate himself from a miserable situation. Paul Simon ain’t need 51 ways to leave your lover and he’s way more interesting than Barry, so there’s that.

Imma stop at three because I’ve achieved a Christmas Carol vibe. Instead I’ll supply you with some of the particulars if you happen to be in the same boat as Barry.

1- Never discuss important shit while eating Captain Crunch. It’s impossible to be taken seriously when eating Captain Crunch.
2- If you argue whilst listening to Kenny Loggins Footloose, your relationship is doomed. Because it’s scientifically impossible to do so unless you are not meant to be.
3- Stop using the ‘forever’ template for love things. It’s why people stay in the wrong thing too long. Because they’re measuring it against forever.
4- Being “afraid” to be alone will lead to you being alone. Because as I’ve learned, the loneliest times of my life were spent in a relationship gone wrong.
5- Stop caring what others think about your situation. These are surface oriented concerns that contribute nothing to your relationship.

That last one counted most for me, and I doubt Barry will heed its meaning. He just wants to dance around the issue, and he’s looking for dance partners who will tell him what he wants to hear. But at the very least, he should give his relationship the Footloose test.

I’m convinced he would thank me for it.

 

The End Of Time

Kobe Bryant and his daughter Gianna Maria-Onore Bryant

We were born before the wind
Also younger than the sun
Ere the bonnie boat was won
As we sailed into the mystic

-Van Morrison

I once wrote that as soon as you take your last breath, a million years will pass in the blink of an eye. The vacuum of time and space belies the tranquility those stars are painting for us inside this tent.

When you think about it, life manages itself just fine in spite of the effort so many of us put into wasting or stealing or borrowing its precious commodity. Its movement is effortless, like a parade inside the ether whose consequences are perpetuated inside one long string of granules whose beaches will eventually run to the other side of that thing called forever.

But where time is neutral, mortality is a locomotive on speed dial; a merciless fire that pulverizes everything in its wake. It does not discriminate the rich from the poor, the good from the awful, the old from the young. When it wants you, it will return you to the mystic from whence you came. Ready or not.

Each time I attempted to write about Kobe Bryant’s passing, I failed. Miserably. And I guess some of it had to do with the fact that I was never that much of a fan. My love for the Association was time stamped inside the halcyon days of Magic, Kareem, Dominique, Bird and Jordan. The last name on that list will always be first in my book. I always respected the generation that Kobe and Shaq carried into the new millennia, but I already had my mind made up when it came to the masters.

But the post was never about basketball in the first place. Oh sure, the tributes from players and arenas across the country were sporting life testimonials to the everlasting hold Bryant will always have on the game he knew and loved. For me it was different. As far as Kobe was concerned, I saw a man who always learned from his trials and tribulations- especially the self inflicted ones. This isn’t meant to sweep Colorado under the rug of idolatry that feeds much of society, because I will not. And I think it’s probably this complicated history that provided the most dubious hurdle for me when I got to writing about last Sunday.

So I remembered back to that line I once wrote about death and its timeless thrust. And this served to cancel out the narrative of a Renaissance man of the hardwood and a legendary college baseball coach. Because when you break this tragic event down to its saddest common denominator, you get nine souls whose forever got lost in the fog last Sunday morning. Mothers and daughters, fathers and sons. All of them, gone to the million years worth of mystic that began to unfurl much too soon.

Gigi was thirteen years worth of mighty, and she was going to play for the UConn Huskies someday. Her basketball sister, Alyssa Altobelli possessed that very same fire; she aspired to play ball at Oregon. Her mother Keri was the basketball super mama who fueled Alyssa’s dreams. Sarah and Payton Chester were the ultimate mother/daughter team; with mom coaching up her girl in all things basketball and life. Christina Mauser was the coach for the Mamba Academy team; the mother of three will not be there to celebrate her daughter’s fourth birthday this week. Because a Sikorsky S-76B piloted by Ara Zobayan crashed into a Calabasas hillside, stealing countless chapters from the stories that will forever be unwritten.

My heart breaks for the eighty years worth of living Gigi, Payton and Alyssa never get to have. And I mourn for Keri, Sarah and Christina, who never get to see their girls prom nights and wedding days. And John and Kobe . . . they never get to finish their most important jobs of all; as fathers to young girls who were their heroes.

Gone for a week now, a million years worth of it.

 

Leave the curse, bring the cannoli

Living with depression is like listening to Verdi on a transistor radio.

I’ve arrived at a place where I choose to see the blessings rather than consider myself cursed. Which gives me a fairly unique take on FOMO, the acronym for “Fear of missing out”. It’s a social media commodity and it’s a thing with kids . . of all ages. And since I really don’t get why that is, Imma guess that’s one of those blessings I mentioned a little bit earlier.

For as long as I can remember, my brain has been living independently of the societal tenets most adults tried to ingrain in my bony little ass. I pledged to their proverbs because I knew what they wanted to hear. I curled up to the narrow logistics with earnestness, even if it felt as if I was test tubing on the Upper Gauley. And when the answers to the questions didn’t make the least bit of sense to me, I simply smiled my best lie.

As a boy, I buried myself in books and curls; the former because they provided far away worlds through which I could venture. And the latter because they proffered riddles with such a furious magic. Whereas my boy pals were as nuanced as ball-peen hammers, girls spoke in balletic riddles whose mysteries soothed my deepest aches momentarily enough.

In my youth, I prospected all manner of clubs as if mining for gold. From Boy Scouts to little league, chess club to school newspaper to mock trials. I did so not because I wanted to fit in, but rather, because I wanted to see if maybe I was missing out on something. Because that’s what every adult insisted was happening when their son or daughter belonged to something I didn’t belong to. I was ‘missing out’ and it was a shame . . they insisted.

Sports was supposed to teach me all about teamwork, but of course, it didn’t work that way for me. It became a way in which I could hone my observational skills. I learned that our head coach was afforded the benefits of all the doubts he created, so long as he won. His drinking and carousing and leering at girls who could have been his daughters was time stamped for future processing: As in, when he started losing games, they became actionable. My teammates were easy to figure. The guys who constantly bragged about getting laid, weren’t. The guys who talked about gay people, were. And the guys who simply wanted to please the coaches were searching for something that didn’t exist.

So yeah, that whole teamwork thing was lost on me. I worked well within the parameters of it, and I still do. Even if I will always march to the beat of my own drum because I possess not a fig of Newton’s gravitas when it comes to the natural order of things.

I do not judge someone for wanting to be a part of something “bigger than themselves” even if I don’t understand it. I don’t outwardly defy convention even if inwardly I will not ride its coattails. I don’t swim in the ‘community’ pool because I’ve learned enough to know that being comfortable in my own skin is where it’s at. And where it needs to be at. For me.

There was a time when I would get pissed off at people who judged me for not seeing the value of some prescribed standard of living. Their rebukes served as a constant reminder to me. That from Boy Scouts to football to marriage to here, I have never been happy. Like, ever. So yanno, it’s rocket fuel personal when you add it up that way.

But I learned. To understand others, even if they do not always understand me. And it’s yet another blessing I’ve found on the way to my something else. Because I am proof positive that we may weave a tangled web, but it doesn’t mean we have to cry inside of it.

So yes, I’m missing out. On so very much, according to all those perfect lives being lived out on social media right this very minute. And I’m okay with that. Because I have what I have, and there is peace of mind attached to the fine print of that deed. And sometimes you have to count your blessings, because it’s a start. And Lord knows, life doesn’t give you very much in the way of breadcrumbs. So choose not to fear the things you do not have.

Love the things you do.