I've gotten enough email and facebook messages and tweets and random comments in person mentioning that my blog is dying from lack of use that it seemed appropriate to finally come out and update. Been so long since I've been here that I discovered typepad once again changed it's entire interface and I had to cast about in a state of lowgrade rage trying to figure out how to post.
In no particular order...
She stood outside of the security line yesterday watching her husband leave. They are both in their early 30's, he tall and strong and wearing his uniform. She medium height and a little heavy. She is legally blind, though not entirely sightless, and wears hearing aids. She is a housewife. He is a soldier going back for his 3rd tour in Iraq.
As he makes his way up the line she changes locations to get as close to the screening gate as possible. When she moves she loses sight of him, or of the blur that represents him. She is just on the other side of the nylon barrier rope from me. I ask her what her husband's name is. "Kevin," she says.
I shout his name, he turns and I wave and point at his wife. Knowing her and her trouble seeing he steps away from the line and waves his arms so she can identify which blur he is. She says his name, softly, over and over and over again while gazing in his direction.
He walks over and puts his hands on her shoulders.
"Don't cry, baby. I'll be back. Besides, you won't have to worry about some big, smelly guy leaving his dirty clothes lying around or forgetting to put the toilet seat down."
As she clutches a part of his shirt in her hand she says "I miss your dirty clothes when you're gone. If you promise you're coming back I'll never complain about them, again."
She says it quiet and desperate, in a way that rips your heart out through your throat.
He passes through security and she stares after him long after he's gone. Her mother-in-law, who has stood off to the side to give them their moment, comes for her and says, "He's gone, now, Kallie."
She says, "I know."
"We should leave now, honey."
"Not yet", Kallie says. "This is as close as I'll be to him for a long, long time."
Recessions, which admittedly suck, do tend to have a cleansing effect. They flush out lots of bad business thinking as desperation sets in and no-brainer ideas that could get no traction before suddenly seem brilliant. An example...
The car shopping website -- gm.ebay.com -- marks a departure from the way new vehicles have been traditionally sold in the United States and is aimed at helping GM gain ground with consumers a month after it emerged from bankruptcy."
This is not a new idea. eBay has been approaching auto manufacturers with this for years. The auto companies have toyed with, and killed, various proprietary attempts to do so. Channel conflict being the most used excuse but, really, it's just that they were big, arrogant, and as a result, stupid. So, finally, the auto industry is meandering towards the 21st century by taking advantage of technology to make it easier for consumers to purchase from them. That's part of this that is so welcome...GM is going to allow people who wish to hand it money to do so with greater ease. Makes sense they were so opposed to the idea.
Just finished reading Born To Run: A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and The Greatest Race The World Has Never Seen. It is an absolutely brilliant cultural study and a wonderfully told story. I'm not a runner...hell, I'm barely a walker. This book isn't really about ultramarathons...it's really about running as a return to our ancient roots and the way that is embodied by a handful of modern runners and, most interestingly, the Tarahumara (also Raramuri), a tribe hiding out in the Copper Canyons of the Barrancas in Mexico.
I found myself so wrapped up and enthralled by the book that by the end I:
I know I've been away for awhile and it irks me that after not writing for a number of months since my last post, about my father's passing, what brings me back is another post about death. It's not my intent for this to become the Death Blog but...well...a very good man died today and I felt like writing about him.
Back when I was in college I had a teacher. Okay, I had a bunch of teachers, but was blessed with a few who were really quite extraordinary. One such man was John Edward Blankenchip, a gentleman who I referred to, lovingly (kinda), as "you ol' fucker".
He was the crankiest, crotchetiest, snarliest piece of work I ever came across. I'll always be thankful for the things he taught me about theatre and acting and all that good stuff, and I'll always be thrilled that he showed a great deal of belief in me. More than anything, though, I owe him an enormous debt of gratitude for, not to put too fine a point on it, more or less saving my life.
When I hit the absolute bottom during my time as a drunk and drug addict (coke-head) and had pretty well hosed up just about every facet of my life, culminating with...well...let's just say a particularly ugly event that resulted in being arrested and looking at some pretty harsh consequences...the ol' fucker went well out of his way to help me straighten that mess out and, with his customary subtlety and tenderness (meaning he pretty much hit me with a 2-by-4) was, more than anyone else, responsible for helping me get straight and sober. I learned alot from him but that one act showed me the difference that you can make in someone's life simply by giving a damn. And, at a time when I made it pretty hard for anyone to find much that was good in me and when I had essentially given up on myself, he rather tenaciously forced me to see me in the same positive light that he saw me. Which was enough to get me to white knuckle my way through the mess I'd made of my life. In comparison to most drunks I know, my bottom really wasn't that bad. But it seemed pretty awful to me as I was going through it, scared shitless at 21 years old. I've often wondered how far down I would have sunk had it not been for the velvet hammer of the ol' fucker being brought to bear and have always feared that, without that rather fortunate one man intervention, I never would have stopped falling. Fortunately, Blankenchip ensured that I'd never have to find out just how much more damage I could do to myself.
And for that I am deeply and forever thankful.
Today, November 26th, 2008, my father died. He was and will remain my hero. Hero is an annoyingly overused word these days. But he's always been mine. Only one I've ever had.
As we're approaching Thanksgiving I guess it's appropriate to give thanks. I'm grateful for a mother with a bottomless reservoir of enduring courage and perseverance. The Stroke Monster had blasted Dad pretty hard over the previous 14 years. Mom never failed to impress me with how she could stay upbeat through it all and how she could sacrifice for Dad.
I'm grateful for my younger brother, Bob and the way he repeatedly stepped into the fray when crises hit regarding my Dad's health and how he brought so much joy through the beautiful bond he formed with Dad.
I'm grateful for my older brother, Rod for a whole passel of reasons. Right now I'm grateful for the way he put my Dad at ease today...a day of agonizing pain for my father as the systems were shutting down...by letting him know that it was alright to stop holding on and stop hurting. That he would take care of the family. It's something that my Dad needed to hear and something he needed to hear from Rod. I'm nuts about my family, always have been. But the way they helped that wonderful man when he most needed it...I guess I'm even nuts-er about them than ever.
Mostly, I'm thankful for winning the paternal lottery. You don't get to pick who your father is. I don't know how I got to score the one I did. I don't mean to be sacrilegious but when I first got hip to the whole all-powerful all-knowing God thing...well...sounded like Dad to me. As I sit here watching the movie in my mind play back this great epic film of my old man I realize that I always viewed him as a cross between God, Superman, and John Wayne. He was kind, all knowing, all powerful, could fight crime, and kick ass. Not altogether bad traits in a father. I also know, that as he grew older, as life dealt him some harsh blows even before that fucking Stroke Monster took up permanent residence in his brain, that I finally started to see him as he really was...just a guy. But such a very good, very kind, very giving guy. I hope I can live up to that very simple but daunting standard.
I'm sure I'll properly eulogize my Dad at some point. But not now. Too much swirling around for anything to be clear. With four exceptions...
I am so very glad I got him as a father.
I wish I'd been a better son. Not saying I was bad. Just saying I wish I was better.
While I will miss him every day of the rest of my life I am so, so thankful that he isn't hurting anymore...'cause he was hurting alot here at the end.
And my old man could kick John Wayne's ass. Really. Wouldn't even be close.
...in Washington, DC last night. I got done with work and walked out of the building at 11:02pm Eastern. This coincided perfectly with when the networks apparently all called the race for Obama. All around me I heard an eruption of car horns and shouting.
On the three block walk to my hotel I saw...
An older black man standing in the middle of a very busy intersection waving a huge flag and singing, to his own tune, "Yes, We Can" over and over as tears streamed down his face. Car after car honked and waved at him with many stopping to get out and hug him.
A group of 15-20 young African American women bouncing up and down, squealing, hugging each other and dancing in the street. Literally, dancing in the street. One, in tears, ran up and gave me a hug repeating to anyone who would listen "This is crazy! I can't believe this," before running on to hug someone else.
A car full of young men, black, white and asian in a small sports car stopping at every stop light and getting out and dancing while chanting "Obama! Obama!"
Cab after cab flying down the street with flags hanging out their windows, honking like mad.
I got to the White House late. There were a few thousand people gathered there. Apparently I missed the airheads who were hurling vulgarities at the building. Airheads because they couldn't be heard. Airheads because if they were it wouldn't matter. Airheads because rage and gloating got in their way of enjoying this community, this celebration, this new beautiful America. By the time I was there it was a sea of happy and inspired people just hanging out. Not really doing anything. Just hanging out. Happy to be in Obama's America. Happy to believe, again.