Wednesday Is Good Enough

Being someone who’s rarely, in the past 20 years, had regular hours, regular schedules or regular anything, the weeks sort of blur. I have a deadline on Monday, Julie has church on Sunday, we have various set duties and doin’s on different days…but the weekends are meaningless except for maybe golf is on TV. So Wednesday has never been “over the hump day” for us, halfway to rest and relaxation. It might, sometimes, be a pretty restful and relaxing day all by itself.

Tomorrow is my 25th wedding anniversary. In my current state of nonprofundity, it’s hard to come up with words — and, of course, like the seven-day week or the 50th birthday, 25 is an artificial construct. We’ve had great anniversaries and pretty boring ones, and they have nothing to do with numbers (although our tenth, now that I think of it, was pretty special; we spent the weekend in Victoria, B.C., kidless, a huge deal back then).

But shoot, why not? This is a happy time for us, and 25 is a nice number, and we should do something.

We will, we are. We’re taking the day, or most of it, staying local but hey: Local can be pretty nice. We’ve got our favorite waterfront room and nothing on the schedule, company for John and a whole bunch of hours together and alone — some walking, shopping, maybe a movie, certainly food. It will be fun, and maybe the weather will play along.

All of this post is padding, by the way, filler material to float around the idea that I thought I should write something about all the activity going on tomorrow, romantic and otherwise, and since it’s on a Wednesday I thought about titling this “Hump Day” and then, I dunno, decided against it.

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Thanks to all of you for your nice wishes, particularly those who took the time to drop me a line during the day; funny how random acts of kindness can brighten a day.

And it needed brightening, in a way. Since I have a birthday in the middle of summer, at least in the olden days it was usually a good reason to have a barbecue or some other outside gathering. Late July usually marks the beginning of summer for western Washington, but over the past 25 years I’ve noticed that my birthday is always sunny. It’s become a game, sort of a picnic prognostication tool — want to have a perfect summer day? Pick July 26. Take it from me.

So was I was little surprised when I got up, a full 5 hours of sleep, and noticed clouds yesterday morning. Not fluffy, no-account clouds either, but serious, hardworking clouds with a mission. Republican clouds, sort of, without the scandals.

I should note that this entire month has been spectacularly sunny, from the Fourth on, maybe a little unusual for up here. And I’ve seen morning July 26 clouds before. But about noon I went for a long walk, and halfway through I noticed a strange sensation and it took me a minute before I recognized it as a rain.

Pretty puny rain. Green Party rain, but still. And although we saw some sun, it was mostly gray, for the first time in a quarter of a century on this day. And today I got up to signs of more persistent wetness. I’ve tried hard to find some sort of omen in this but I can’t. Let’s chalk it up to change and call it good. And we could use the rain, surely.

It was a quiet day, given my work schedule, but I managed to indulge in ice cream and try on new pants and buy new shoes. I talked to my daughter, picked up my free movie, took a nap, and watched the clock tick away my Special Day, feeling pretty much OK with that. On Wednesday we celebrate another big day, this time with more fuss, and in the meantime I’m sort of liking the idea that what always happens sometimes doesn’t, and maybe I should pay attention to that sort of thing.

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Changing The Game

Back in the mid-1980s, when Beth was a baby, I used to work a graveyard shift at a hospital, and a couple of times I worked the Saturday night when Daylight Savings went into effect. Someone asked me once what happened at 2am when the clocks changed, and I said, “Nothing.”

We weren’t supposed to tell.

So I’ve been suddenly senior for all of half an hour, and you want to know what happened?

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That’s it. A paradigm shift. A change of venue. A turn-the-snow-globe-and-shake-it sort of thing.

I spent a year learning how to live sober. I spent the next one, this last one, learning how to live again. Works for me.

There is no sadness, people, but thank you for your kindness.

There is no chaos, either. And no recurrent dreams.

I still dream, and still dream some of the same things, but not the same ones. Not the ones so familiar I gave them names. The Reunion Dream. The Highway Dream. The Pool Dream. Drunk dreams, Dad dreams, death and dying dreams.

I used to dream, pretty often, that I would suddenly leave the house and start running. This was a recurrent dream and a good one; there was freedom, then, and peace.

Odd, too. I ran from time to time, a long time ago, for exercise, but nothing serious. Not long enough or hard enough to become hooked, or regular, or even good. Just familiar.

So the dreams are gone, whoosh. Bit by bit.

This is me at 50, then. Pretty much the way I was at 49, except maybe not so much.

I know I’m less sentimental, less passionate about some things, more amused and bemused and distant. Less engaged in details, more inclined to be cynical about the world and politics and my fellow men and women than I was a year ago. I’m writing a lot of crap, lately, too. So it goes.

And yet. I love, and am loved. I work and I move and I learn and I cherish damn near everything, and I’m happier and I’m healthier and somehow along the line I’ve lost 90 pounds, too.

This is what occurred to me the other day, at any rate, as I was walking around the lake. Starting over. Changing everything. Staying alive. Moving forward. It was sunny, too, and warm, and nobody was around, and maybe because of that, and maybe because it was time, and maybe because I needed to do something else, I started to run, like I’d never ever stopped, like I never ever will.

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Pail List, #21 through #30

Some things you might or might not know about me:

21. I’m a registered Democrat, an ordained deacon in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), and an organ donor.

22. I was student body president of my high school.

23. Most of my adult life, from age 17 on, I’ve worn a beard. But not now.

24. During my brief stint at stand-up comedy, like Kevin Pollack, Kevin Spacey, and Jim Carrey, who were all around at the same time, I was mostly an impressionist.

25. I was arrested once for failing to pay a traffic ticket, fingerprinted and all.

26. I have a passion for caper movies, particularly museum robbery ones.

27. I met Pauley “Encino Man” Shore when he was an obnoxious, spoiled 12-year-old.

28. I can name all the Presidents of the United States, in any order, at any time.

29. I once got fired from McDonald’s. For being incompetent.

30. I can type very fast, always could, over 100 wpm in pre-computer years.

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Pail List, #16 through #20

Family:

16. All four of my grandparents were born in the 20th century, between 1910 and 1920.

17. My parents were born less than 6 weeks apart, Dad in December 1936 and Mom in January 1937. Dad passed away in 2003; Mom is alive and kicking (or else reading).

18. My brother, Bill, is 2 years and 3 months older than I am. He lives in southern Oregon with his wife and two sons (two daughters are in Arizona); he was formerly a special education teacher and now is a school district administrator. My sister, Jeanne, is a year and a half younger than I, lives in northern Arizona with her husband (and in the same town as her son and daughter-in-law), has a whole bunch o’ grandkids via marriage, and I don’t know exactly what she does but she used to be a CPA. Maybe she still is.

19. I have two maternal aunts in California and one paternal uncle in Arizona, along with one sorta uncle by marriage and various exes. I have four first cousins, all of whom have a variety of kids among them. And I have four nephews and two nieces, and one grandniece. So it’s sort of a small family, but growing.

20. My daughter is 23-plus and lives in Boston. My son is 18 and lives, vividly, with me and my wife of nearly 25 years (next Wednesday).

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Pail List, #11 through #15

Movies!

11. Went through a big Warners Bros. period in my teenage years, 30s and 40s mostly, so add that to the football trivia. Cagney, Muni, Garfield, Robinson, Trevor, Bergman, Davis, and, of course

12. Bogart. HUGE fan back then. At one point I think I figured out I had seen every one of his films aside from the silents (and he made 75 or so, 10 of them before “The Petrified Forest,” which was his breakout). Favorites are, in no particular order (except for the first, of course) Casablanca, High Sierra, The Maltese Falcon, The Big Sleep, To Have and Have Not, The Treasure of the Sierra Madre, and Key Largo, with some affection for two 50s offerings (a bleak time for Bogie fans, IMO), Sabrina and The African Queen.

13. I get a free movie rental on my birthday every year from Hollywood Video, and I believe I’ve used it for the past 15 at least. Haven’t decided on tomorrow’s flick, but I’ll get one.

14. It’s hard to do a top 50 or 100 or 10; too many variables. But a short list of favorites, some exceptional in their own right and some of the guilty pleasure variety, includes: Say Anything, Hoosiers, Groundhog Day, The Princess Bride, Touch of Evil, Cool Hand Luke, McCabe and Mrs. Miller, Late For Dinner, The Flim-Flam Man, and, of course, Rick Blaine and Ilsa. Off the top of my head.

15. The first movie I remember seeing in a theater — and it was a drive-in, my parents had 3 small kids — was To Kill A Mockingbird. Also a favorite.

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The Pail List, #6 through #10

Of the quirky variety:

6. I don’t like eggs and never have. I’ll certainly cook with them, and occasionally eat them in bland form (i.e., scrambled or omelets), but I really don’t like them. Hard-boiled eggs cooking will make me leave the room. Disgusting.

7. I like long-sleeved shirts, and I like to roll them up. I feel sort of naked without rolled-up sleeves.

8. The most important women in my life (aside from family, who can’t help themselves), and the ones I’ve been most attracted to (including, of course, my wife), have been brunettes.

9. I have a mild hearing loss on my left, I have two fake teeth, and as far as I can tell I’m the only adult male in my family who has a bald spot in the back this young. And I’m really, really young.

10. I’ve written down everything I’ve eaten (in terms of calories) virtually every day for the past 10 months, and I assume I’ll do it forever. There’s incredible freedom in this for a guy who used to weigh a lot more than he does now, as strange as it sounds; I always know what I’m doing.

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The Pail List, #1 through #5

OK, let’s start with sports.

1. I have played golf a grand total of once. It was early, I was sleepy, it didn’t do much for me.

2. Thanks to a book I got when I was around 9, I have a remarkable, if trivial, knowledge of the history of football. Walter Camp, Bronko Nagurski, Paul Brown, Crazy Legs Hirsch, the forward pass…I can take your questions now.

3. I know virtually nothing about hockey. I have a vague memory of going to a Bruins game with the Indian Guides (and hey: I was an Indian Guide. Write that down) when I was 6 or 7, but I have zero interest and zero information. I didn’t even watch the Olympics in 1980. To this day I don’t believe in miracles.

4. I played football, basketball and baseball from around age 10 through the first part of high school, when sports interfered with play practice and I had an easy decision to make. I occasionally stood out in basketball, depending on the competition, but I sucked at baseball and I mostly played on the line in football.

5. The only sports-related activity I ever did even reasonably well, as a matter of fact, was high jumping. I was a pretty decent high jumper as a 14- and 15-year-old, although nothing spectacular; I cleared 6’1″ once in practice, just barely above my head. Still, I had great form and strong legs, and I still think it’s the single most graceful athletic activity there is. Stop me before I say more.

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Bucket Day

I woke up this morning with “The Bucket List” on my mind. I’ve heard several people in my life rave about this film, along with countless professional film reviewers who more or less said it was a pathetic piece of schmaltzy crap.

I know I decided I’d probably skip it when I first saw the preview a few months ago when I was at the movies. Just the MPAAA notice alone was a warning: “This film is rated PG-13 for mild language, sexual situations, and every cliche known to man.”

But I woke up with it anyway, because tomorrow is my 50th birthday and I was supposed to do things. I’ve noted this before, the thought I used to have and share: I don’t want to wake up one day and be 50 and realize I never…” and then there’d be something. Something important to do before 50 and The End.

As is turned out, though, 50 is No Big Deal. Maybe it used to be, and maybe it seems old in the eyes of 20-somethings who, to be fair, have better eyes, but it feels fine.

But I did have these things I wanted to do before 50, and I woke up thinking that, well, if I’m going to do them, today would be the day. Tomorrow will technically be too late.

But I have other stuff to do. The stuff of my life. Work stuff. Exercise stuff. Get-out-and-enjoy-the-bright-yellow-thingy-in-the-sky stuff. And the kitchen will not clean itself, not in this household.

And I can’t remember anyway. I can only think of a few vague notions I had in my mind back then in my idealistic youth, and most seem pretty unrealistic for any age, and one involved Farrah Fawcett and is sort of making me nauseated to think about, I mean, she’s like sixty now. Ugh.

I could easily make a list of things I’ve never done that might surprise you, maybe. Never been skiing. Not even water skiing. Never been to Europe. That sort of thing.

So maybe, since I’m sort of chained to my computer all day and all night (seriously: I will not sleep again as a 49-year-old, and it’s 8:45am where I am currently), I’ll think of things you don’t know about me and post them. Just in honor of the community. So come back. All day.

What I haven’t done, though, is not on my mind.

What is on my mind is the knowledge that, as I got up this morning, amusing myself with ideas about how to blog this whole “turning 50” thing and not get overly narcissistic and at the same time have some fun with it, I turned on my computer and found out that Randy Pausch passed away early today.

Randy Pausch, the computer science professor at Carnegie Mellon who was diagnosed with terminal pancreatic cancer and gave a famous “Last Lecture” that got millions of YouTube views, and then wrote a bestseller. He lived about five months longer than doctors expected, and his words and thoughts on living one’s life have inspired a lot of people.

It’s just funny. Odd funny, not ha-ha funny.

So I’ll be back later. I have a YouTube to watch again, first.

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Trust, But Verify

Things are busy here. Busy, busy.

So it was nice to get the letter in the mail, among the AARP literature, informing me that hey, it’s now possible to renew your driver’s license online if you’re among a select special few, and guess what? That means YOU.

So I did that this morning. Renewed my driver’s license online. Sort of an honor system, too, in a quaint and funny way:

1. Can you see OK? I mean, with glasses if you need them? Nothing spectacular. Just enough to not run over anybody? Y___N___

2. Are you pretty sure you’re not a criminal? You can jaywalk and stuff, everybody does that, just nothing serious? Y___ N___

3. You haven’t had, like, a seizure or anything while driving recently, have you? You’d tell us, right? Y___ N___

4. Please verify that you’re not an identity thief by answering 2 out of the following 3 questions correctly:
A. What’s your first name?
B. What’s your last name?
C. Can you see OK?

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