Category Archives: Thoughts
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.
In case you haven’t heard, “Star Wars: Episode 1″ is being released in theaters in 3D on February 10th. A few facts to note:
1. I am a huge Star Wars fan.
2. Seeing movies on the big screen is almost always better than watching them at home.
3. 3D can be very cool if done correctly. ILM usually does things correctly.
4. Notwithstanding point #3 above, I fully expect Jar-Jar to be even MORE annoying in 3D.
5. My son has never seen the Star Wars films in the theater. We will now be able to rectify that situation.
6. I’ll now have even more Star Wars posters to hang in the house. My wife will LOVE that.
Speaking of posters, Lucasfilm has posted five new posters for the 3D release of Episode One. Check them out after the jump…
UPDATE – Thank you so much for all support and feedback we’ve received so far on this! It has been truly remarkable. I’ve updated the article below to include the address for donations. Again – thank you all, and God bless you.
Facebook can be a remarkable thing. It gives you quick access to updates from your family. It makes it easy to find embarrassing pictures of your friends from high school. It can suck endless hours out of the day as you quest for jewels, build mafia empires, or create your perfect farm. It can also, on occasion, give you the opportunity to help someone in need. This is one of those times.
Last Friday, I got a message from one of my old friends. I went to high school with both she and her husband, and we reconnected a few years ago on Facebook. She was reaching out to see if there was anything I could do to help out with one of her husband’s coworkers, a man named Matt Braswell. Both her husband and Matt work as firefighters, and in a cruel moment of irony – Matt’s house burned down while he was on duty last week. As she told me his story, I knew that I had to find some way, however small, to help.
I’ve learned a lot about Matt and his family this week. Matt is 26 years old. He and his wife Tracy have three kids: son Jacob – age 10, son Leighton – age 3, and daughter Kenley – age 2. He is a veteran of the Marine Corps and has been a Gwinnett County firefighter for the last 3 years. While he was on duty last week in Gwinnett, the family’s home in Douglasville was completely destroyed by a fire. Luckily, no one was injured – but the family lost everything.
Matt is an avid reader – a passion he has passed along to his son Jacob. Matt is a sci-fi fan, and loves Star Wars and zombies (he’s a man after my own heart). I’m told it’s not uncommon to find him engrossed in his latest book at the firehouse when the day’s work is finished. Jacob has picked up his dad’s love of reading, and is also a budding artist.
When the fire devastated their home, it destroyed all of Matt’s and Jacob’s books, along with all of Jacob’s drawing books, supplies, and sketchpads. As you know, I’m an avid reader and lover of books. They have been my constant companions since I first learned to read. They have provided me solace, inspiration, entertainment, and education when I needed it most. The thought of losing all my books – my friends – it would just be devastating. I don’t know Matt and his family personally, but I do know that no one who loves to read should ever be without books. The firefighting community is helping the Braswell family with donations and the necessities they need – but there is still more that can be done.
When my friend contacted me, she said she wasn’t sure why she did it – she just felt like she should. As soon as I got her message, I knew why she had that feeling – I needed to try and help this family. They say the Lord works in mysterious ways. Sometimes that’s true. Sometimes, you just need to listen and you’ll find it’s not so mysterious after all. Sometimes he just wants you to do the right thing.
That’s where you and I come in – I’m asking you for your help. Do you have a few sci-fi or children’s books around the house you don’t need anymore? Do you have a few extra dollars that could be used to purchase an Amazon gift certificate? Do you have a sketchbook or some old art supplies you aren’t using? If so, I ask you to join me in donating them to the Braswell family. The love of books is a powerful bond we all share, and you can help me help them start to rebuild their book collection.
As I mentioned before, luckily no one was hurt in the fire. The Braswell family lost all of their possessions, but possessions can be replaced – the important thing is that they still have each other. None of us can take away the loss and the pain they feel, but if just one book can help Matt, Tracy, Jacob, Leighton, or Kenley find a few moments of laughter, or joy, or escape in the days and weeks ahead – well, I would like to think that would make the world just a little bit better place.
If you have something you would like to donate, here is the address:
Gwinnett County Fire Station #14
1600 Buford Hwy.
Buford, GA 30518
Attn: Matt Braswell
Thank you for your help and God bless you.