Friday, January 29, 2010

Death, and life

Death interrupted life again last week. A friend I went to high school with passed away after 37 brief years. He was the second person I knew to die this month. Both from cancer. Both in their thirties.

Unfair is a word that I've said and heard several times in the past couple of weeks. And it does seem so. Then you ask why. But some questions don't have answers.

I like to think I'll live a healthy and long life of seventy or eighty years or more. I suppose all of us do. It's easier and more appealing to put thoughts of the brevity and uncertainty of life out of my mind and continue going through the motions. But eventually and inevitably, those realities are brought to the forefront once again.

Every death serves as a reminder, that life is temporary, that people should be cherished, and that time, sweet time is so very precious. But these... these hit harder. Maybe because they were so young, or maybe because I'm getting older. This time the reminder was in big bold letters, and all caps. And it's not fading nearly so fast.

Too often, I act like I have all the time in the world. Like there will always be another day to visit a friend, spend time with Dad, mend hurt feelings or do any of a hundred things that always seem easier to put off until some other someday.

Some years ago, I came to know a girl who was a cancer survivor. She never spoke about it very much, just little bits and pieces here and there. It always struck me how she often seemed to cram as much as she could into her days. She would do more in a weekend than I'd do in two weeks. It was as if she wanted to drink up every last ounce of life and not let a single precious moment go to waste.

I never asked but always wondered if she was like that because of what she had gone through, if by looking death squarely in the eye she had come to realize the immeasurable value of time, and to cherish it as it should always be.

And I wondered why I hadn't, and didn't.

"I loved deeper, and I spoke sweeter, and I gave forgiveness I'd been denying. He said, some day I hope you get the chance to live like you were dying..."

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

On The Road Again

I have interacted with the other humans five of the past six nights. This included a four-consecutive-night socialization extravaganza from Thursday through Sunday, the likes of which I have not seen since the Clinton administration. First term.

There was dinner with Lil' Bootay, dinner with Kywana, re-watching the national championship game with Axl, and shooting pool with the Darryls. That's everyone I know!

But the capper had to be last night, when I went to see Country Music Hall-of-Famer and living legend Willie Nelson in concert. That's right, the Red-Headed Stranger.

By the way, I'm going to make a conscious effort to not make a single weed joke in this post. Because really, it's a cheap laugh. And what a man does in the privacy of his home, tour bus, automobile, or public restroom is really nobody else's business.

That being said, if you had told me when I began this blog all those years ago that some day I'd be writing a post about seeing Willie Nelson in concert, I'd have said you must be smok-... um, never mind. This could be tougher than I thought.

Still, there I was on row N -- in front of the O's, hobnobbing with the L's and M's -- for Willie Nelson and Family.

The show was excellent. Willie can still sing and walk a guitar. At 76, the man is a marvel. The band was flawless. And, I didn't get high from secondhand weed. (This is not a weed joke. This is something I was honestly curious about before the show.)

One of the highlights for me was when someone tossed a Houndstooth hat on stage and Willie's son (and lead guitarist), Lukas, put it on and wore it the rest of the show. Ah, you know you're in 'Bama when...

As the wise grizzled sage recited some of the more memorable hits from his extensive catalog, I was reminded of his songwriting genius. And also inspired by it. Then I got to thinking how I've been blogging less lately. Feeling neglectful, I sat down and penned a few lines, just for you. I'd like to share those with you now.

Maybe I didn't post here
Quite as often as I could have
And maybe I didn't comment
Quite as good as I should have
Little things I could've blogged about
I just never took the time
But you were always on my mind...

Actually, now that I think about it, I'm a little confused as to whether I wrote that to my blog or my blog readers. Hmph. Oh well, who can tell in matters such as these? All I know is it sure is good to be on the blog again.

"How'm I doin'? Oh, I guess that I'm doin' fine. It's been so long now, but it seems like it was only yesterday. Gee, ain't it funny how time slips away..."

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Cloud Ten

Christmas came two weeks late this year. Thursday night, exactly two weeks after Christmas Eve, the good St. Nick (Saban) delivered a national championship to every Bama boy and girl.

Needless to say, I was on Cloud Ten. Zoomed right past Cloud Nine. I mean, Cloud Nine is nice for being in love and things like that. But this -- this is more than just a simple matter of feeling an elevated sense of attraction to one of the other humans due to increased amounts of dopamine and serotonin in the brain.

This is a never-ending quest. Something I'd waited seventeen years for. My life's work. The result of all my years of worry and anxiety (with occasional, fleeting moments of relief and elation).

Since I had waited seventeen years for this game, I decided to watch it with those I'd spent the majority of those seventeen years with -- the Darryls. They're pretty used to "how I am" during the game.

The game was a bit of a roller-coaster, as most are. Bama got off to a slow start and fell behind 6-0, but it was still early so I wasn't suicidal... yet. Then the Tide dominated the 2nd quarter on their way to a 24-6 halftime lead and happy days were here again. I texted my sister at halftime:

"Are you happy?"
"Yeah. Our offense looks bad but we are winning. I wish McCoy was in though..."
"Wrong answer!!! You haven't won anything yet. You gotta act like the score is 0-0!!!"
"Sorry, Coach Saban."

Apparently our team thought this was the Super Bowl and that there was going to be an extended halftime show featuring The Who, because they never came out of the locker room in the 3rd quarter. Texas closed to 24-21. My phone rang, repeatedly. I didn't answer. With one quarter to play, I was inconsolable.

Coincidentally, I'd told someone before the game that in four hours, I'd either be utterly inconsolable or in a state of euphoria. There was no in between. Thankfully for those who have to put up with me on a semi-regular basis, the Tide turned in the 4th quarter. When Bama's Eryk Anders sacked the Texas quarterback, forcing a fumble that effectively ended the game, the euphoria ensued.

Final score: Bama 37, Texas 21.

Cloud Ten.

And let me just say, I've scarcely felt better in my life... without the aid of medication and/or a woman.

When something happens that means this much, how does one react?

You think about your momma, as good Southern boys should. You wonder how many times she has said "Thank you, Bear" and at what point she started crying.

You think about her and the other Bama fans who grew up with the Bear. And how the past seventeen years must have felt like a hundred to them. You're happier for them than you are for yourself.

You go somewhere, anywhere, to be around other Bama fans. The local Academy store opened at 11:00 Thursday night selling national championship shirts and caps. By the time they closed at 1:30 in the morning, over 2,000 people had bought merchandise.

The national championship trophy was on display Sunday at the Gardendale Walmart. (You couldn't make this stuff up.) No players or coaches were there -- just the trophy. An estimated 6,000 fans showed up to see it and have their picture taken with it. Hundreds more were turned away because the viewing was only scheduled to last three hours. In case you're wondering, I was not in either group, though I have no reasonable explanation why.

And you celebrate. This Saturday, an official celebration will be held at Bryant-Denny Stadium. The first 50,000 fans get a free poster, which I take to mean they're expecting over 50,000. I'm leaning towards going to this.

After all, any day in Tuscaloosa is a good day. No matter what cloud you're on.

"They got a name for the winners in this world. I want a name when I lose. They call Alabama the Crimson Tide. Call me Deacon Blues..."

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Seven degrees... of something

It is 19 degrees here at the moment. That's one of two reasons I'd rather be in Pasadena. The low Friday night is supposed to be seven.


Seven is a lot of things -- how old you are when you're in the second grade, the number of abominable sins, what George Costanza wanted to name his firstborn. It should never be a temperature.

I have the intention to do some sort of year-end post, eventually. Of course, the road to sparse blogging is paved with good intentions. I'll be the only person to do a decade retrospective in March. Apparently, I've resolved to procrastinate even more in 2010. And be even less productive. Sort of anti-resolutions, I guess you could say.

In the meantime, the new decade got off to a rousing start with the Trans-Siberian Orchestra concert in Birmingham Saturday night. Great balls of fire! No, I mean there literally were balls of fire shooting up from the stage, along with smoke, lasers, fireworks -- it was like a rock concert.

The best part of all? There was no opening act. TSO played the whole time! Two-and-a-half hours of auditory and visual delight. I wish more artists would take a cue from them. The ticket prices were reasonable. Granted, we had to duck to avoid hitting our heads on the ceiling of the arena, but still.

The only minor disappointment of the evening was that there was no "guest maestro" segment where they let a member of the audience come on stage and conduct a song. Is there any doubt I would have turned that mutha out on Mad Russian's Christmas?

Next up, we have the national championship game on Thursday night--the "other" reason I wish I was in Pasadena. I don't want to say anything else about that for fear of jinxing something. But combine those two events with the fact that I have signed up to run a 5K at the Nashville Zoo later this month, and I'm hopeful I may have finally found the formula to ward off the Januarys this year.

If that doesn't work, I'll just revert to my usual hibernatory self.

Also, I should probably take down my Christmas tree at some point. Ah, but those pesky anti-resolutions doth preclude me.

"I'd be safe and warm if I was in L.A. California dreamin' on such a winter's day..."