Wednesday, July 29, 2015

One Thousand Gratitudes, Part XXXI: 250-226

Last post for July.

Hope everyone's enjoying their summer.

Thanks for reading.


Two Hundred Fifty: sunscreen and bug spray

            How would we enjoy the great outdoors without taking measures to prevent the two biggest elements from destroying us?

Two Hundred Forty-Nine: three-quarters through

            One major installment left to finish this project. Many thanks for the elements with which creation bestowed me, including perseverance, dedication, patience, and time.

Two Hundred Forty-Eight: fireworks

            Why not? Cheers to America.

Two Hundred Forty-Seven: “Sugaree”

            So many versions of this tune out there, and I never tire of it. Pure bliss every time.

Two Hundred Forty-Six: Bob Weir’s “Let Trey Sing” shirt

            Killer move by Bob Weir. Funny, timely, and an apropos closing move to the Fare Thee Well shows. Think maybe I’ll buy one.

Two Hundred Forty-Five: praise from the boss

            With the busy-ness and stress my job contains, I find myself in situations where it would be easy to make a mistake, and from time to time I do make one. I work hard, though, and even though it’s taken most of two years for him to see it, my boss has sprinkled the occasional praise over my recent efforts.

            Feels good.

Two Hundred Forty-Four: the memory of collecting baseball cards and stickers

            I never got super into either, but the memories remain invaluable. I did the sticker-book thing for three years, and my dad would always take me to get a pack whenever he picked me up. That might be my favorite memory of him and I together. Baseball cards I did more on my own and over a longer period of time. I never got crazy about them but I did develop a decent collection. I enjoy reflecting on such an innocent hobby, and really, an innocent time.

Two Hundred Forty-Three: getting Phish tickets in the mail

            One of those nice surprises you’re expecting but forgot to expect for a few days.

            Jackpot.

Two Hundred Forty-Two: scoring a breakaway goal

            I picked off a defenseman near the blue line the other night. He had attempted an outlet pass to get out of the zone. I anticipated it and pressured him, getting my stick in the way just in time. My momentum paralleled the redirection of the puck, and I corralled it without a fumble.

            I hit the turbo button to gain a splash of speed and looked up, one on one with the goalie. I seldom display the appropriate skill and discipline to take my eye off of the puck when I’m carrying it, but this time I noted that he’d left a lot of the left side of the net open. I juggled the puck between my forehand a backhand a few times and fired a wrister that not only got off the ice, but mirrored the trajectory I’d intended.

            Scoring feels nice anytime you do it, especially when it’s as seldom as I do. Watching that puck bounce off the inside of the back of the net felt great, though. I’m thankful for moments in the game that reveal years of trying coming to fruition.

Two Hundred Forty-One: gaining perspective on the definition of poor

            I’m embarrassed to admit that I’ve used the phrase “grew up poor” many times and know that one time qualifies as too many.

            I felt that way because -- in my adolescence and for many years reflecting upon it -- I focused on what those around me had.

            I realize my mistake but do not dwell on it; I’m thankful for the perspective it gave me.

            I feel like a dick every time I ignore the cardboard-sign clad at intersections and both the summer’s heat, the winter’s chill only make it worse. And though I want to judge less, I struggle to reconcile the thought possibility that those folks try to improve their situations.

            My focus here, however, includes my fellow Midwesterners that I don’t see often: the rundown, the obese, the crippled.

            I don’t pretend that these folks don’t reside in other parts of the country, but I feel as though some brand of poverty must’ve rooted itself here years ago, and each subsequent generation continues to inherit it.

            Back to the judgment thing: I’m classifying these folks based on nothing more than a one-time, fleeting glance. Every last one of them could be rich of heart and soul; they could be phenomenal human beings.

            The truth, though, is that they look like they entered the world defeated and every year on earth has only beaten them down more.

            I’m certain that I’m wrong about some of them and maybe all of them. I’m also certain that each person’s story differs from the next.

            I’m happy they’re out there, though, and that I’ve seen them.

            I’m happy that I can rise, sit, and walk with ease. I’m happy for the clothes, the cars, and the home that I have. I’m happy to be a part of such a wonderful, loving family. I’m happy that I’ve never -- save for a few college-years occasions -- gone without food. I’m happy that most everything I need and want lies within either a quick walk, arm’s reach, or fingertip’s touch.

            I’m thankful that I can recognize the ease in which I can type those words, and the challenge of becoming mindful of them every day.

Two Hundred Forty: safety (so far) from Midwestern storms

            We’ve had a few ugly patterns roll through the ‘hood these last couple weeks, and everyone within a few hundred miles’ radius knows -- I imagine -- what nature’s wrath can look like. I’m glad that the fallen limbs and the power outages and leaky basements have been the extent of the damage so far.

Two Hundred Thirty-Nine: cold, refreshing beverages

            Every once in a while I’ll be home all day, doing whatever, and find myself craving something not called water or coffee, and more often than not I find something. It’s a nice surprise.

Two Hundred Thirty-Eight: daddy snacks

            I have a little basket in the basement, and when I remember to mention that the supply has run low, I will discover it restocked. Delightful. Hard to not eat them all in one sitting, but delightful.

Two Hundred Thirty-Seven: editing

            Teachers and professors all along my educational path, as well as my Uncle Jack, taught me the value, importance, and challenge of this hard part of putting words on paper. Writing, they all say, is the easy part. They are right, and I’m grateful for the lesson, the ability to recognize this as true.

Two Hundred Thirty-Six: this post to my Facebook wall



Two Hundred Thirty-Five: stretching

            I don’t do this as a habit in the morning, but I want to. For now I just dig how it feels in fleeting moments.

Two Hundred Thirty-Four: dreams, part three

            A number of installments ago I wrote about unnamed friend number 26, and an entry or two later I discussed how I’d discovered that he’d been deceased for a few years now.

            This information shook me, and I tried to reach out to his widow, a woman I’ve never met. She did not appear interested in discussing her late husband’s demise with a stranger, which I got. The not knowing hurt then and still does now, but I get it.

            A few weeks ago David -- for lack of better phraseology -- visited me in a dream.

            I should’ve risen when the thing woke me. I should’ve risen and penned it when it hovered, as fresh as dreams can ever be.

            Since I did not, I cannot recall what other oddities took place in the dream, but the portion with David in it felt direct and I gathered the following from it:

            David was murdered.

            He’d fallen into a bit of darkness, a place very difficult from which to climb out of. He lived with this struggle with as little transparency as possible, but those closest to him could see it.

            As things of this nature might tend, an element of the proverbial wrong crowd wisped in and out of his nights, and late one evening he found himself cornered in an alley. Much like his troubles, this alley bore little illumination, and though I knew David as a pacifist, an altercation occurred, one he tried to discuss and avoid. Those that faced him, though, wore cloaks of evil in their hearts, and beat him to the ground then stomped his skull until the human him could no longer be recognized.

            I of course have little idea what the dreams of others look like. I can only say that mine always come clouded with oddity and often with terror.

            I remember that the portions of my dream that night before David arrived felt odd, as per usual, but once he was present a strange lucidity enveloped the thing. It seemed as though he knew I hurt in knowing he’d died, that I struggled with the fact that we’d drifted, that I didn’t know what had happened to him. It was as though he walked with me to the theater, reminding me along the way of the great human being he’d been. When we got there he took a seat elsewhere where I couldn’t see him, and I was left alone again, to watch the real-seeming reenactment of his final moments alive.

            I have no way of knowing if this was just another chapter in the strange story of dreamland, but it felt so real.

            While I miss David, am saddened by the news of his death, and would never wish anyone such a grotesque exit from this world, his presence in that dream felt unmistakable, an intentional visit from the life after this one.

            I don’t know what any of it means, and as bizarre as it was, I’m glad I got to see him.

Two Hundred Thirty-Three: visions of autumn

            I don’t love the extreme summer heat so I’m not wishing for a season change, but I keep getting these haunting visions of it being a fall Sunday with football on. It’s almost like I can smell the fallen leaves, hear the pre-winter winds, and feel the need to put on a sweatshirt.

            So strange this human experience is. We’re lucky we have it.

Two Hundred Thirty-Two: the ol’ snip-a-rooski

            I had a consultation with a urologist the other Thursday. The visit’d been a long time coming and the thing needs to happen as, well, another child might doom my fatherhood. Not quite sure how I feel about it yet, though. I guess I’m thankful for all of our options in medicine.

Two Hundred Thirty-One: fatherhood

            What a blessing, though.

Two Hundred Thirty: Family Guy

            Lived for this show in the late ‘90s and early ‘00s. Used to get a kick out of watching reruns and catching new episodes. Lotta great laughs.

Two Hundred Twenty-Nine: jersey #48

            I’ve been on five hockey teams since moving back to Kansas City and my favorite number has been available 100 percent of the time. Always makes me happy to put those digits on my back.

Two Hundred Twenty-Eight: Tums

            Having an upset stomach, anxiety, or lacking rest are far from the worst crummy ways to feel, but as often as those situations come my way, I’m happy I always have a supply on hand. Even if it’s a little placebo-y, it works.

Two Hundred Twenty-Seven: air conditioning

            We hit that high-90s, Kansas City-summer zone a couple of weeks ago. Grateful for the trusty unit on both the side of my house and in the basement.

Two Hundred Twenty-Six: the Atlanta experience

            When my mom and sister and I moved southeast in 1982 I think I learned a lot. I remember feeling lucky to make friends in our Sturbridge Square apartment complex. I felt grateful to find a dentist when a bike accident busted my mouth open, and blessed when -- at the hospital -- I wasn’t the guy with his hand wrapped up walking, pallid, behind his wife carrying a bowl.

            We shared excitement visiting the spot where our house would be built, a goofy eagerness running on the new carpet prior to the move-in. I felt a weird thankfulness when my stepdad’s mom sent us money for bedding. I felt afraid to start another new school. I allowed envy to take root when our house was constructed without the laundry-room staircase that led to a bonus room, and sorrow whenever I thought of my dad, the 824 miles between us.

            I felt strange attending baseball games at a new stadium and rooting for someone besides the Royals, and that doesn’t even touch the awkward filth associated with being a fan of a team in the (Editor’s Note: Blecch.) National League.

            I remember riding bikes in circles in the basement, feeling a certain terror for the crawl-spacey area on the other side of the half wall. I didn’t understand why a creek bed ran through our backyard but no one else’s. I felt compelled to explore the forest behind our home, but it invoked a fear in me all the same.

            The feeling of bizarre accompanied me every time we got in the car as I didn’t know how to get anywhere. No buildings or streets looked familiar. Not for a while, anyway.

            Sometimes intimidation set in when I made new friends and discovered that they were already friends with my other new friends, leaving me still the new kid in town.

            I experienced anxiety and excitement as my sister and I flew on a plane by ourselves, timidness as I met new teachers, uncertainty when my mom’s marriage ended.

            In the end, as we crammed into that rust Tercel, we cried, exiting our home, that suburb, and the south for the final time.

            I used to think of the whole Atlanta experience as negative, a thing that happened to me. Removed from that sentiment is the three-year package of living there that included adventure, exposure, and excitement.


            I’m glad it happened. It was an eye opener, a mind expander, a family strengthener, and an excellent source of growth.