It was a Monday afternoon – last Monday afternoon, to be precise. I found myself standing at a lectern looking out over the faces of friends, family, and familiar strangers. My eyes where a bit scratchy, no doubt due to the flowers arrayed on either side of the stage. My hands shook slightly as I arranged the papers containing my remarks for the afternoon. I steadied myself in front of the microphone, closed my eyes for the briefest of moments, took a deep breath, and began to give a eulogy for my Grandmother – Mema.
Mema had been struggling with cancer for the past few years. She fought long and hard but in the end, it was a losing battle. Still…she was at peace. We all had our chance to say goodbye. She lived a rich and full life, and knew that my grandfather was waiting for her on the other side. When she finally passed and we flew home for the funeral I, for the first time, really understood what it meant to celebrate someone’s life instead of mourning his or her death. There was still sadness and there were still tears, but it was different somehow.
If you read my blog regularly, you know that I’ve committed to writing more in 2013. (If you don’t, you can catch up on my 2013 resolutions here.) Great – so I’ve committed to writing more. Now the question I have to ask myself is, what do I write about? I have a few ideas, but I thought I would ask you, my readers, to help me out. What do you want to read about?
To help in this process, I’ve outlined 15 ideas below. They all revolve around lessons I learned the hard way in my youth. As a bonus, I’ve also included one sentence from the stories I think I would write around these ideas. Look them over, take the poll at the end of the post, and let me know what you would like to read more about. (I may get to them all eventually, or I may not – so if there is something that piques your curiosity, speak now. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.) The poll will be live until Sunday, January 13th at midnight.
So, what are you waiting for? This is your best chance all year to boss me around (unless you’re my wife – every day is her best chance to boss me around.) Vote now. Vote often. Hell, let’s pretend this is Chicago – vote for your dead friends and relatives. I look forward to your input.
Fifteen Lessons I Learned The Hard Way
1. Taping bottle rockets to paper airplanes won’t make them fly any further.
“The airplane had a brief ‘Buzz-Lightyear-falling-with-style’ moment, followed quickly by a ‘Mythbusters-slow-motion-epic-failure’ moment.”
2. Bourbon Street to the Superdome in New Orleans is much too far to walk at 3:00AM on New Year’s Eve – especially if you are one of the sober ones.
“Just as we finished ‘relieving’ ourselves through the wrought-iron fence, we heard the unmistakable ‘clop-clop’ sound of a mounted police officer behind us.”
Here we are again at the beginning of a new year. To say that 2012 was crazy would be an understatement. There were lots of changes in my life – most good, some not so good. As I sit here and look back at the list I put together last year (you can read it here), I find that I was only able to accomplish 9 ½ of them to my satisfaction. I didn’t write as much as I wanted (or should have), and didn’t spend as much time calling friends as I had planned, but I did cut back on TV and processed foods. I also spent time in New York again and more quality time with my family.
Now it’s time to look forward to 2013. I’m hoping for a year of continued good health and happiness, as well as some calm on the job and home front (relocations are controlled anxiety at best – full blown panic at worst.) Only time will tell. Just like last year, I’m going to put everything out there and trust that exposure to keep me honest and focused on my resolutions for the year. So, without further adieu, let’s get to the resolutions:
As 2012 draws to a close, its time to take a look back at the year that was. It was a year of change – a year of ups and downs. I learned a lot in 2012 and wanted to share some of those nuggets with you. I know top ten lists are all the rage this time of year – so I’m just going to jump right on the bandwagon with both feet. But, why stop at 10? In celebration of 2012, here are (in no particular order) the 12 most important things I learned this year:
- We don’t have a Democrat or Republican problem in this country – we have a Politician problem. On a related note, our problem isn’t that we don’t have enough tax revenue – our problem is we spend too much.
- Relocation is difficult, moving sucks, and driving across the country is far more appealing when handled as a music montage in the movies. Not a single Christie Brinkley sighting for me.
As I sit here on Christmas Eve, I find myself thinking about what Christmas means to me. This is our first Christmas in California, so some traditions will fall by the wayside (no Waffle House dinner on Christmas Eve), and new traditions will be started (this our first year with Elf on the Shelf). Things have changed over the years; I’ve grown older and have a family of my own now. But Christmas is still a special time of year, and one full of memories. I wanted to share a few of them with you.
Christmas is… the music of Harry Connick, Jr. There is so much great Holiday music out there, it can be overwhelming at times. You haven’t really made it as an artist until you’ve released a Christmas album, it seems. But the go-to record in our house is “When My Heart Finds Christmas” by Harry Connick, Jr. It’s been the soundtrack to so many of our Christmas memories; it’s impossible to separate them. Regardless of the displays in the stores, it doesn’t really start to become the Christmas season for me until I can slip Harry into the rotation on my iPhone without it feeling out of place.
Since the world is scheduled to end today before midnight (that’s right people – we’re not out of the woods yet), I thought it might be a good time to get a few things off my chest while I still had the chance – some confessions and some observations. Things that I’ve been thinking about for a while, but just haven’t found an appropriate time to discuss. Here goes nothing:
- “Grease 2” is better than the original. Perhaps it’s because I’ve seen it 723 times on TBS – I’m not sure. Adrian Zmed and Michelle Pfeiffer – it’s hard to go wrong there. And yes, I do have the soundtrack on my iPhone.
- Kermit the Frog just isn’t the same anymore. I know Jim Henson’s son is now running the famous amphibian, but there’s something missing. Call me a purist, but I miss the real Kermit.
I’ve written and re-written this story a hundred times over the last few days. I could probably spend another month working on it, and still not get it right. I’m usually good at capturing my thoughts on the page, but this time the right words seek to elude me. This isn’t perfect, and it isn’t finished, but I need it to be done for now. I need to set these pages down and start moving ahead.
I fear for our country and our society. Something is metastasizing in our culture, nudging us ever closer to a comfortable darkness of the soul. It speaks to the coarseness and cynicism growing around us, and the innocence we have all lost. Unless it is addressed, I fear the best outcome we can hope to face is one of division and discord. What is it, you ask? Guns? 2nd Amendment rights? Neither – or perhaps both. No, what I’m talking about is the politicization of every aspect of our lives.
Music has always been present at the important junctures of my life, and has always provided the soundtrack to my aspirations and dreams. I’ve been lucky enough to have the chance to connect with people through song. I’ve told stories through music of my own and used the words of others to express feelings when I couldn’t find those of my own. I’ve known both the thrill and the terror of standing in front of a live audience. I’ve seen the power of a song to both wound and heal. I’ve felt the intimacy of singing just the right words to just the right person at just the right time. But for all of those moments, sometimes the best song is the one you sing for yourself – the song that helps define you, or helps you hear something your heart has been trying to tell you. For me – that song will always be “Honestly” by Stryper.
One of the great promises of the digital age is the free flow of information and the ability to access to combined knowledge of centuries in the blink off an eye. It’s led to incredible leaps in productivity and fostered unprecedented innovation in both business and science. What wasn’t promised, but has nevertheless been delivered, is the use of this innovation by governments and private entities to break down the traditional bounds of privacy and liberty. To most, the Internet is an easy, harmless way to keep in touch with friends, as well as a cheap, anonymous way to consume information and news. Brad Thor’s latest thriller, “Black List”, is a lit match thrown into the tinderbox of those misguided assumptions about privacy in the digital age. The resulting blaze serves to illuminate the dangers inherent in government’s unquenchable thirst for your “private” information when coupled with their unchecked ability to use that information for any purpose they see fit.
They’re back. It took 27 years, 11 months, 29 days, 705 tour dates, two new lead singers, and one new bass player – but Van Halen have finally released the long awaited follow-up to their seminal album “1984” – “A Different Kind of Truth”. I have to say, it was well worth the wait.
Van Halen fans have always seemed to fall in two camps – fans of Roth and fans of Hagar. (Let’s face it – we can ALL agree that the Gary Cherone experiment was something that need not ever have happened.) I’ve always found much to like in both Van Halen and Van Hagar. “Van Halen” is one of my favorite albums of all time – and all of the classic line-up albums have done nothing but get better with age. What the band did in their early years laid the foundation for the guitar rock and heavy metal spectacle bands of the 80’s. But, none of those bands did it better than Van Halen.
On the flipside, Van Hagar was the soundtrack to my high school years. “5150” is also one of my favorite albums of all time. With each successive release though, (“OU812”, “For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge” and “Balance”), the band seemed to lose a little more juice and a little more of the cohesive vision of who they were. Those albums just don’t hold up as well as “5150”. That, more than anything, says to me that Van Halen has really always been Dave’s band.