Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Music Monday: Horizons

It's twilight.  Chilly, but not awful for February.

The forecast is calling for 4 to 6 inches of snow tomorrow.  Of course, we've had approximately eleven winter weather advisories in the past fourteen days, and it has snowed exactly once.  All of a quarter-inch.

The night is mostly clear.  Here on the outskirts, half a mile from the city limit sign, it's dark enough to enjoy the evening sky.

Venus is the most radiant.  Hanging above the western horizon.  I realize my knowledge of Earth's sister planet is limited.  I know that's where women are from and that's pretty much it.  Then I remember a couple of ex-girlfriends I haven't heard from in years, and assume they must have returned to the mother planet.

Barely visible at Venus's five o'clock is Mars.  The two are so close together!  I enjoy the spectacle.  And wonder how Earth looks from there.

When I think of Mars, I always think of George Bush saying we're going to send a man to Mars, which leads my mind to Will Ferrell as George Bush, and I smile.

Overhead, I find the well-adorned Orion with his belt of three stars.  I see Betelgeuse. Then to the left and a bit lower, there is Sirius.  

Using a star gazer app on my phone, I am able to locate Jupiter in the eastern sky.  This makes me think of the movie "2010: The Year We Make Contact" and the message: "All these worlds are yours except Europa.  Attempt no landing there.  Use them together.  Use them in peace."  I shake my head at how I can remember that line exactly, yet can't ever seem to remember much else.

An airliner in a holding pattern circles overhead.  It looks for all the world like it will knock Jupiter right out of the heavens.  I watch to see if it will eclipse the planet, but its turn takes it barely below.

By now, my neck has begun to hurt from all the craning.  I think about how difficult it must have been for sailors in olden days, what with all the no-stargazing-and-sailing distracted boating laws.  And it strikes me that I may have just inadvertently solved the Titanic mystery.   

As I start to go in, my last view is of the horizon.  It's one of my favorite views.  Giant trees, skeletons of winter, against the evening sky.

Horizons.  It feels as if I'm standing squarely between two right now. 

I am in the midst of quite a lot of changes -- in life, not with my blog template -- and likely more are on the way.  As one who typically loathes and fights change, it seems all the more strange that this is me -- calm, content, and at peace with it all.

On the one side, I see the hope and challenges of tomorrow with its untested waters and brand new adventures.

On the other, the light has begun to fade on the day that was, with its different adventures, misadventures, familiar paths and beautiful indiscretions.  The people and places from these days evermore sewn into my soul.

So as much as I'm looking forward, and I am, there will always be times I will look back.  With a smile in my heart and nostalgia in my eye.

For I have loved these days.

"We're going wrong, we're gaining weight / We're sleeping long and far too late / And so it's time to change our ways / But I've loved these days..."

Thursday, February 19, 2015


The more I think about being born in February, I'm convinced my mother planned it that way, neatly nestled in the vast dead period between football season and the next football season.  I was a month early, but still it was post-Super Bowl.  I'm sure her thinking was, "OK, football's over, The Waltons is a rerun this week, let's go ahead and get this over with."

Sometime last week, the calendar reminded me I had clicked off another year.  Forty-two.  Which doesn't seem all that significant until you learn that is exactly one third of the way to my goal of one hundred twenty-six.

You think Betty White is a riot in her nineties?  Just wait until Bone in his hundred-aughts, and hundred-teens.  Hilarity shall ensue.

This also marked the year I officially turned into my dad with regards to gift requests.  I couldn't think of a single thing I wanted/needed.

Save for t-shirts.

And socks.  (I refuse to ask my mother to buy me underwear.)

No one makes a big deal about your age when you're my age.  I mean, I'm already old enough to run for President.  I can't get my AARP membership for eight more years (though judging by the number of mail-outs I have been receiving for awhile now, their advance recruitment efforts are unequaled).

Turning forty-two, it isn't like anyone says, "Ooo, you're twice the legal drinking age!  Don't do anything I wouldn't do!"

But it's not bad.

My birthday morning started with a call from Nephew Bone, who serenaded me with "Happy Birthday."  Minutes later, I played my highest-scoring word ever in Words With Friends (not against Nephew Bone).  The word ("stripier") wasn't all that impressive, but the 149 points was decent.  I basked in the afterglow of that achievement clean through lunch.  (Some would suggest I'm still basking.)

With grave apologies to the Hemingway estate, I suppose you could say the remainder of my birthday was a moveable feast.

Birthday night was dinner out with my dad and step-mom at a Mexican restaurant.  I had the shrimp burrito.  Then Friday night, we drove up to Nashville to meet friends at Famous Dave's.  Ribs, catfish, collard greens, and slaw.  Things wound down with Sunday dinner at mom's, or as I like to call it, Fat Sunday.  There were pork chops, fried chicken, mashed potatoes, green beans, cucumber salad, and more.

Desserts sampled at one point or other during the four-day Carnival de Cholesterol included chocolate cake, apple cobbler, pineapple upside down cake, and a glazed creme-filled doughnut from Krispy Kreme.  (Hey, it's right by the Famous Dave's!  I was raised that when you're that close to a Krispy Kreme, it's impolite and possibly even sinful not to go.)

For Lent, I'm giving up my aversion to angioplasty.  Evidently.

I'm sure everyone says the same thing, but I don't feel forty-two.  I feel twenty-five.  Granted, a twenty-five-year-old who struggles to stay up past 10 p.m. most nights.  But also one who has grown to appreciate the value of life's simpler pleasures, like long naps, sunsets, liquid Maalox.

And new socks.

Here's to the next eighty-four years.

"The truth about a mirror / Is that a damned old mirror / Don't really tell the whole truth / It don't show what's deep inside / Or read between the lines / And it's really no reflection of my youth..."

Friday, February 13, 2015

J-Lo's Loss is Every Man's Gain

I hadn't thought of him in years.

Sure, I had the single for "I Need to Know."  (Tell me, baby girl, who didn't?)  I knew he had been married to Jennifer Lopez and vaguely recalled hearing about their separation and impending divorce.  But until this moment, standing next to the corner display table in the men's section of Kohl's department store, I realized I'd never really known the man at all.

The man I'm speaking of is Marc Anthony.  And this is the story of how he changed my life.  Or at least my early forties.

It all began a couple of years ago, sitting on a couch in Anytown, USA, watching the ABC sitcom "The Middle."  That's when I noticed that I owned (and frequently wore) the exact same shirt as one of the actors.  On the show, he played a 17-year-old named Axl.  In real life, I was evidently playing a 40-year-old "teen" named Bone.

From that point on, everywhere I'd go I began to notice my style was being imitated by guys half my age.  How could this be?  Did I somehow have a cult following of which I wasn't aware?

Perhaps.  I mean, what kid wouldn't look up to a guy who blogs, doesn't really "go out with people," and is a boss at Trivia Crack and Words With Friends?

Or maybe it was me.  Was I dressing like a teenager/college kid?  I did gets lots of clothes from Aeropostale every year for Christmas.  (What?  It's not like a have a pair of shorts with "Juicy" printed on the ass.)

But what else was there?  It was either dress like a teenager or give in and start wearing those old man shirts that should say "instantly turn into your dad for only $19.97."  (And now you have a window into Madonna's thought process prior to every major television appearance.)

No, I couldn't go there.  I wouldn't.  Not yet.  And so, I draped myself in cotton -- continuing to sport a variety of raglan t-shirts, zip-up hoodies, and my Chucks -- and slogged on.

At different times in my life, I had patterned my "style" after the debonair likes of Brandon Walsh, Jason Morgan, and Dillon Quartermaine.  (We'll conveniently gloss over the Wranglers and western boots days.)  Of course, Jason left General Hospital for Genoa City, new Jason mostly wears prison garb, who knows what zip code Brandon landed in, and Dillon is off in California making movies.  If only I could summon him for advice.  What would Dillon do?

Maybe that was the problem: All my TV heroes of suave attire were gone.  Now there is only Matthew McConaughey driving around talking to his car or Jeff Bridges trying to sing me to sleep.

Whatever the reason(s), my sometimes-bumpy fashion evolution had come to a complete standstill. There needed to be a middle ground, something to fill the fashion vacuum for guys of a certain age who are still attempting to be marginally stylish.  I mean, there must be dozens of us out there, right?

Enter Mr. Anthony.

Who knew we had so much in common!  He was born in New York, I've visited New York.  He was raised Roman Catholic, I've shot Roman candles.  He was married to J-Lo, I've.... shot Roman candles.

Standing in Kohl's that day, I realized that after years of wandering in a fashion desert, I had found my promised land.  A retail Canaan stretched out before me as far as housewares to the north and jewelry and accessories to the west.

It was a land flowing with a generous assortment of sweaters, polos, and button-down shirts predominately in blacks, no-nonsense greys, and pleasing blues.  There were even a few hoodies.  But more mature ones, which could be dressed up or dressed down.  And really, isn't that what everyone is looking for in life?

No longer am I a 40-year-old dressing like a 17-year-old.  Today, I stand before you a 42-year-old who dresses more like a... guy in his early thirties.

Forever comfortable in my own skin.  At long last, I'm comfortable wearing another man's clothes.

"Not a lot to lean on / I need Your light to help me / Find my place in this world..."

Sunday, February 08, 2015

One night in December

For almost everyone in attendance, it would have been nothing very remarkable.  One child, just one of thirty or so on the stage, singing, ringing his bell, and making hand motions with all the other kids as they sang along to "O Come All Ye Faithful" during the Christmas program at the county Christian school.

But remarkable, it was.  To those who had seen him the year before stand with his back to the crowd the entire time, not moving or saying a word.  And the year before that had watched him put his hands over his face and cast his head downward, again not uttering a sound.

There I sat, in the audience, more teary-eyed than any parent or grandparent who was there.  Because I knew how far he had come.  I had been through the days of not being able to understand what he was saying even though he was trying so hard.

To watch a child struggle, to speak or to do any other seemingly simple task, melts away whatever hardness might be inside you.  It puts life in perspective in a way only a few things can.

I thought of his mother.  She who repeatedly told doctors something wasn't right until they finally listened.  She who still spends hours on the phone fighting with the insurance company as they try to deny coverage of his therapy.  And she who makes the 90-minute round-trip three times a week so that he can receive what she believes is the best-available help for his apraxia.

I looked over at her, sitting in the next section, her 5-foot-1 frame having to strain to see over the people in front of her.  She had a smile as wide as the building.  It's the smile she always has when she is trying not to cry.

She had struggled with whether to put him in public school, eventually deciding against it.  She started him here in hopes that he would get more attention.  It was a hard decision.  We were public school kids.  But if there were still any doubt, this night was absolute validation she had made the right choice. 

A little later we listened as one of the older kids, a young man who had overcome autism, stood in front of the audience and read the Christmas story.

When the program ended, I high-fived my nephew and told him how proud I was of him.  He seemed rather unimpressed by it all.  I thought of his great aunt, a wonderful and kind southern woman he would never really get a chance to know, lying in rest twenty minutes away.

A couple of days before, she had slipped from this realm of sickness and dying.  Her visitation was the same night of his program.

His uncle and her nephew, I managed to make it to both.

Life was beautiful. And sad.

"Some of it's magic / Some of it's tragic / But I had a good life all the way..."

Tuesday, February 03, 2015

Music Monday: Winter plods on

Alas, with football out of the way, now there is nothing.  Winter plods on.  And will for six more weeks, that is if you're inclined to believe a rodent from the Quaker state, or the creator of the Gregorian calendar.

Most of the things that have been on my mind to write are rather heavy.  I feel I'm in danger of entering the blog equivalent of Picasso's Blue Period, except with less fame.  Some fame, just less.

Wanting to ward that off for your benefit, I offer instead some lighthearted fare.

For once the Super Bowl was, well, super.  I actually had a nice little Super Bowl party, for one.  But it was catered.  By Domino's.

Everyone's talking about "the call."  Might I suggest Seattle change its name from the Seahawks to Mitt Romney?  That way, the next time they decide not to run, no one will be all that upset.

And can we stop making the Super Bowl commercials "a thing?"  They're annoyingly lacking in creativity and let's be honest, they've been going downhill for the past five years or more.  Which, strangely, is not unlike this blog.

Making it worse, I felt like the ads were super depressing this year -- childhood deaths, Cats in the Cradle, Jeff Bridges trying to salvage a once-passable career by begging people to visit his new website.  Thank God for Doritos and Lindsay Lohan!  Which, strangely, is not the first time I've uttered that sentence -- or as I usually refer to it -- sincere prayer of thanksgiving.

Speaking of Lindsay Lohan, why must the Super Bowl always make you think of your ex-girlfriend, amirite?

At least January has abated.  February isn't worlds better, but it's short and close to March.  I mean, it's not related to March or anything, but they know each other.  January and March have never even met.

I was involved in a 20-some-odd email thread about General Hospital today, so things are looking up.  I mean, what if Fluke really is the old Luke and he was hallucinating and fighting with himself in the basement?!?!  What if Helena has brainwashed him like she has Jake/Jason?  I know, but then why would Eckert's grave be empty?  Unless real Luke wanted to throw everybody off.  But then why did he seem so upset when the grave was dug up?  I can't take it!

Oh, and Harper Lee is releasing a new book!  I can think of no better news than that for a cold winter's day.

This week's Music Monday offering is one I've had on repeat quite a bit the past few weeks.  It's by Adam Cohen, who is the son of Leonard Cohen.  The lyrics just kill me.  Every time.

"I know the kind of thing that makes you laugh / The way you tilt your head for a photograph / What other guy knows you like that?"