Tag Archives: Thoughts
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.
Last year I shared with you ten things I was thankful for on Thanksgiving. It gave me an opportunity to sit down and reflect on the year and really served to start my day off well. So, in the spirit of giving, I’ve decided to make it an annual event and share ten more things I’m thankful for this year. It’s not an exhaustive list (and I’m still thankful for almost everything from last year’s list), so consider this more an expansion of that list, not a replacement. Either way, I hope you enjoy it.
- I’m thankful for the new opportunities and challenges I’ve been given this year. I’m not one to enjoy standing still – it’s good to have motion in my life.
- I’m thankful for the support of my family and friends. Those new opportunities have come with a healthy dose of change – and without the support of those closest to me, I wouldn’t have even considered them.
- I’m thankful that my wife has a love of scrapbooking. She is capturing so many moments, both large and small, that we will be able to savor again and again like a fine wine in our old age.
- I’m thankful for the time I got to spend with my grandfather before he passed away this year. Saying goodbye is never easy – but it’s far better than not getting the chance to say anything at all.
- I’m thankful for the light in my daughter’s eyes as she greets me at the door when I get home from work each night. It always makes my day better.
- I’m thankful for books. I am still able to lose myself in them every single day. They open up new worlds to me, provide me with an escape when I need it most, and make me think about the world around me. They’ve helped me meet some very cool people over the last 18 months.
- I’m thankful for my grandmother’s strawberry cake. It is, quite possibly, the perfect food.
- I’m thankful for afternoons working on piano with my son. He doesn’t always enjoy it (especially my clapping to keep him in tempo), but sharing music with him brings me great joy.
- I’m thankful for warm blankets on a cold winter’s morning and cool sheets on a hot summer’s night.
- I’m thankful for my freedom. Okay, you’re right – this one was on last year’s list as well – but it’s so important, it bears repeating. Without freedom, we’re all just colorful paper puppets dancing at the end of someone else’s strings.
Take a moment and think about all you have to be thankful for this year. You may find it’s more than you thought. I hope all of you have a wonderful and happy Thanksgiving. Enjoy the food, the family, the friends, and the football!
First, let me apologize to everyone. It’s been almost a month since I’ve posted anything new here at The Word Zombie. When I sat down, looked at the site and realized how long it had been, I was shocked. And saddened. I’ve poured myself into this site over the last year and a half. The last thing I want to do now is to let it languish. I still have a lot to say (that will come as a shock to no one who knows me), and a lot to share. So why the long delay? Let me explain.
Two things have conspired to keep me away from the keyboard over the last month. They are both good in their own right, but not so good for the flow of content to The Word Zombie. The first has to do with my job.
Last week, I accepted a new position at work. After starting there 18 years ago as an unpaid intern, I’ve just been promoted to the head of sales for the US and Canada. It’s been a long and exciting journey, but the new job will require that I relocate my family to Los Angeles.
That wasn’t a decision or decision making process my wife and I took lightly. Both of my children are now in school. Having myself lived in the same house from the day I started kindergarten until a few months after I graduate college, having my kids deal with changing schools again was not something I looked forward to. Add to that the pressure of finding good schools in LA and it made for a lot of late night discussions.
We’re not new to relocation – we’ve done three times before. Still, it’s stressful. There is a lot you have to do. Some things go well and some things don’t. Selling a house is never fun, even in a good economy and housing market. I’m not sure if you’ve read the news lately – we don’t have either right now.
That being said, the job is a great opportunity both for my family and I. It’s something I really wanted to do, and to her credit, my wife supported me – just as she’s always done. So, we made the decision to take the job and relocate. It was announced last week and now the wheels have all been set in motion for a move.
During all the conversations over the past few weeks, all the late nights doing research on the internet, and all the pitches to my kids on how cool California is – I found it hard to focus on writing. It was hard to find the time and, quite frankly, I gave myself permission to let the blog slip while we where making our decision. Right or wrong – that was the choice I made. Now, however, everything has been decided and I can’t give myself a free pass any longer. I need to write. So, here I am – writing about why I haven’t been writing. Ironic much?
The second reason I haven’t written much has to do with what I’ve been reading. I have a few reviews I need to catch up on, but about 5 weeks ago I dove headlong into a tremendous series of books and haven’t been able to put them down. I’ve literally been finishing one book and picking up the next in the series within minutes. I’ve been so consumed with reading them; I haven’t even begun to think about how to review them. I wanted to finish the series first.
What are the books you ask? They are the Repairman Jack novels and the Adversary Cycle novels by F. Paul Wilson. Between both series there are 21 books, telling the “secret history of the world”. The final Repairman Jack novel was published in October and a revised version of the last book in the Adversary Cycle is due to be published early next year. When I get finished with the last Repairman Jack book I’ll share all my thoughts on the entire Repairman Jack series. Next year, I’ll recap the Adversary Cycle after “Nightworld” is published again. I promise.
I’ll have a lot of time on airplanes in the coming months – time I plan to spend reading, writing, and also sleeping. As I said, I still have a lot to say. I’ll have new content up more regularly over the coming weeks. In fact, to get things back on track, my daughter has graciously agreed to provide reviews for two books she’s recently enjoyed. (She’s just learning to read and is excited to be joining the blogosphere.) They’ll be posted by the end of the week.
Again, let me apologize for the sorry state of the blog over the past month. I don’t take a single reader of The Word Zombie for granted. You are gracious enough to spend a small portion of your day here with me; I owe you a small portion of my day spent writing in return. Thank you all for your patience and your understanding. Talk to you soon.
I have what might be best described as a love/hate relationship with flying. I love to travel and see new places – I hate the ridiculous amount of regulations and “theater of the absurd” rules. I’ve written about many of my adventures on airplanes and in airports in the past. This week, I hit a new level of the absurd. It would be laugh out loud funny if it weren’t true.
On a flight to Los Angeles this week, I had taken my seat and was getting settled in for the trip. I’m a quirky traveler, but I have a system that works for me. I pulled out my iPhone and headphones and dialed up my “Plane Music” playlist. I took my book and a thermos of hot tea (brewed after the security checkpoint, of course), and put them in the seat pocket in front of me. I checked my Blackberry, answered a few messages, and then turned it off for the flight. All systems checked out – I was ready to go.
The phone rang at 6:02 on Tuesday morning. Before I could even open my eyes I thought, “It’s not good news”. It’s never good news when the phone rings that early in the morning. As I struggled to come fully awake, I heard my Mom’s voice telling me my grandfather had passed away. He had lost his battle with liver cancer. They say, sometimes, when you know it’s coming, bad news like this is easier to hear and process. They’re wrong.
My grandfather was Kenneth Bailey, although he was always Papa (“pa-paw”) to me. He was born in 1928 and lived his entire life in Buford, Ga. He was married to my grandmother (Mema) for 61 years. He has two daughters, four grandchildren, and five great-grandchildren. And while all of those things are true, they really don’t get to the heart of the man that Papa was.
Birthdays are a time for celebration. Once a year your family and friends come together to celebrate the simple fact that you exist. Gifts are given, food is eaten, candles are lit and blown out, and of course, there is cake. It’s a special day, no matter who you are or how old.
For me, birthdays are also a time of reflection, a time to think about the prior year and speculate on the year to come. This year is no different, but it also marks a milestone for me. This is the year I complete my 40th trip around the sun. As the old saying goes, “40 is just a number”, and it’s true; but society still places a premium on each decade we mark off on this earth, so I feel I should, at least in some small way, do the same.
I am, by no means, a wise man. I’ve made my way through these 40 years the best I could. I’ve made my fair share of mistakes, but I’ve also had my fair share of moments in the sun. Through it all, I’ve learned a lot of things – many, the hard way. To mark today’s passing, I’ve decided to share some of those things with you – the 40 most important lessons in my life. I can only hope they help my children navigate the way through their first 40 trips around the sun, to a place as good as I have.
- Your first love is not the same as your true love. Both will linger with you your entire life, but true love is the only thing capable of filling the hole in your heart.
- Mascara doesn’t come easily out of hair that’s been teased and shellacked with Aquanet hairspray.
- Process is the last refuge of a weak mind. It has its place and purpose, but action with thought is wasteful and lazy.
- Family is forever – no matter where you go; they’re always with you.
- Any man who can’t share his love of “Star Wars” with his children is a poor parent.
It’s been a really long week. One of those weeks were it’s easy to sit back and focus on just how stressful and infuriating life can be sometimes. I had to fly cross-country, so I had plenty of time to sit on planes and think. I was crammed into seat 37E between a morbidly obese Panamanian woman and a John Waters look-alike who smelled like Doritos and Band-Aids, when I had an epiphany somewhere over New Mexico. As trying as my week had been, it could have been far worse. I could have had to deal with some of the things that really annoy me. I could have been put in one of those situations that really set my teeth on edge. I could have been trapped in one of what I call, “My Own Personal 7 Circles of Hell”.
#1: Having a cashier ask for my credit card after I’ve already swiped it through the reader
Automation can be a good thing (just don’t tell Obama…). It allows companies and businesses to be more efficient. It can speed up simple transactions and save you valuable time during your day. It can also drive you crazy.
One of the biggest changes at retail in the last few years has been the ubiquitous addition of credit card terminals at the register. They’re everwhere – Walmart, Kmart, Carmart, Stuffyoudontneedmart – everyone has added the ability for you to swipe your credit card and pay your bill. Put like that, it sounds great – and in most cases it is. Most, but not all.
Here’s what chaps my recently slimmed down posterior. If they are going to give you an automated machine to swipe your card through, why do they still insist you then hand them your card for inspection. If I’m going to hand it to Skippy the cashier anyway, shouldn’t he just go ahead and swipe it himself? Why even give me the illusion of control over my own destiny? It’s like a cruel joke: he allows me to swipe my card, put it back in my wallet, put my wallet back in my pocket, and THEN Skippy needs to see the card – or I can’t buy my fresh vine ripened tomatoes, can of turpentine, and Kittens with Mittens sticker book.
Really? You just have to see the card? You just have to let me have one brief moment of retail freedom, then bring it all crashing down on my head like a twig house under the onslaught of Ye Olde Big Bad Wolf? Thanks for nothing. Just keep your credit card machines and false promises of manifest destiny in the hair care products aisle. It’s almost enough to make me start using cash…
I was sitting on a plane the other day and a thought hit me like like a ton of bricks – someday, someone is going to break my son’s heart. I sat up straight in my seat and had a moment of pure, unadulterated pain. I don’t know who she is going to be, or how she is going to do it, but someone is going to make my son feel the same way I felt many times growing up – alone.
It took me a minute to gather my thoughts and while I did, my iPod continued to play. I was listening to a playlist my wife had put together to listen to in the car with the kids. We’ve tried to instill a love of music into our children, and I’m happy to report that they are both fans of rock music. It was then that another thought snuck up on me – I needed to share what I learned about love with my son – a bit of advice on just how to navigate the murky waters of love and infatuation. And, as crazy as it sounds, the perfect way to do it was in the same way that I learned it – through the music of my youth. So here it is, an open letter to my son about the highs and lows of love.
Nineteen years ago I had the chance to see a musical on Broadway for the first time. (I know – It would sound much better if I could say it was twenty years ago. Twenty is such a nice round number – but it was, in fact, nineteen years ago, and I don’t feel like waiting an entire year to write this, just so it has a nice clichéd opening. But I digress.) As I was saying – nineteen years ago I had the chance to see a musical on Broadway for the first time. Not only was it great show, I also learned a few things along the way: I really can do anything I set my mind to, young love is almost always misguided, and my father has a serious deficiency when it came to hotel nicknames.