Saturday, September 12, 2015

One Thousand Gratitudes, Part XL: 25-1

So here it is...

...installment 40 of a 40-piece series.

Ten months, 296 pages, and 127,358 words later, the thing is complete.

This project has been so many things: fun, hard work, eye-opening, redundant at times, and perhaps a touch self-serving and narcissistic.

I hope to keep the bigger-picture meaning of it in mind the next time I feel frustrated about something, and I hope it has, from time to time, been fun to read.

I definitely enjoyed writing it.

One Thousand Gratitudes, Part XXXIX: 50-26

A strange thing occurred in the final run of this series: I finished writing it and then didn't have time to edit the last two pieces and get them posted.

Guess that's how it goes, though.

Anyway, here's the second to last and the last will follow right after it.

Thank you for reading.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

One Thousand Gratitudes, Part XXXVIII: 75-51

While there are many things I'm grateful for in here and in this entire series, I am especially grateful this morning that my sister is home, has rested, and is feeling better.

Here's to having a tranquil Tuesday.

Thanks for reading.

Saturday, August 15, 2015

One Thousand Gratitudes, Part XXXVII

Feels pretty weird to have broken into the 10s.

I'd hoped to close this project out with some huge, meaningful, eye-opening, worldly gratitudes, to get outside of myself as I mentioned I'd do.

That didn't happen, though.

I did my best, and this has been quite the journey.

Thank you for being here with me.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

One Thousand Gratitudes, Part XXXVI: 125-101

I don't imagine we're beyond all of the summer heat just yet, but last evening and this morning provided some calm, cool air here in the sticky midwest.

Here's entry #36.

Thanks for reading.

Saturday, August 8, 2015

One Thousand Gratitudes, Part XXXIV, 175-151

In the beginning of this project I joked about how hard it would be to avoid repetition by the time I got to the end, and that's turning out to be true in every sense. I'm doing everything I can to try and think of the real things, the important things in life, and instead of coming up with stuff, I'm probably coming across as a 21st-century, idiot, American male.

At this point, though, my sole focus is split into two tiers: a) the perspective gained from starting this series, and b) finishing it.

As I chisel away at the remaining few, I'll make an effort to try and get outside of myself.

As always, thanks for reading. 

Saturday, August 1, 2015

One Thousand Gratitudes, Part XXXIII: 200-176

With this installment we dive into the 100s and -- in case I haven't mentioned it -- I've stayed 100 entries ahead of what's posted since the beginning. I chose to do it this way so that I never felt forced to write then post, just for the sake of posting; the writing was meant to fuel the posting of what had already been written.

That said, I am down to the final 100 gratitude entries to write and I hope to carry the momentum of this project into the next project while rounding out the final seven posts to the series.

If I could only figure out what that project will be...

The direction I'm leaning suggests that I'll skinny back on the blog stuff and work on something I might be able to publish in the traditional sense. So in the event that the blogginess falls off as we enter fall, I hope that you'll still visit once in a while. If you don't, that's okay, too.

Thanks, though, for being here when you were.

Friday, July 31, 2015

One Thousand Gratitudes, Part XXXII: 225-201

Managed to squeeze another one in before July was in the rear-view.

Eight more of these and you never have to hear me talk about gratitude again.

Or...not that often anyway.

Actually, I'll probably reference this series a lot over the next few years.

So, yeah: Cancel all of that. No promises anywhere.

Thanks for reading, though.

Happy weekend...if you have that sort of thing in your life.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

One Thousand Gratitudes, Part XXX: 275-251

Penned this shorty over fourth-of-July weekend down at the lake.

It, like some of the finer things in life, are simple.

Thanks for reading.

Saturday, July 18, 2015

One Thousand Gratitudes, Part XXIX: 300-276

As I sat down to edit this entry I noticed a couple of goofs as the 300s wound down. I hope they've been fixed and I apologize for any redundancy you might see in this (or other recent) entry.

Something that's been on my mind a lot lately has to do with whether or not I'm coming up with all of the right things in this project. That is, I've touched on particular subjects and offshoots of them on countless occasions and, in doing so, I'm keeping my fingers crossed that I'm now leaving out something crucial.

I feel certain that, at the conclusion of this project, many things will spring to mind that I would like to have included, but the book will have been closed. I know it doesn't matter, that the list of gratitudes should be a lifelong accumulation, but I don't want to come across as arrogant. We have a lot to be thankful for in this part of the world -- some of us more so than others -- and I'm trying to grow my mindfulness of that truth.

My wife also asked me where I was with it and whether or not it had changed me.

I guess I wish she would have known the answer to both of those questions, but maybe that just means I've overlooked a particular gratitude. Or several. Or maybe it's one I haven't even realized yet.

Anyway, thanks -- as always -- for reading.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

One Thousand Gratitudes, Part XXVII: 350-326

July, July.

July makes me sigh.

I say that because -- at some point in this series -- I anticipated finishing in August.

That leaves me with a considerable amount of work to do in the next seven weeks, and the worst possible judgment -- if I don't get it done by then -- looms : my own.

Self-criticism, at times, weighs heavier than that of others does.

I can sit here and say that it doesn't matter, but I'd be lying.

What matters lands in the department of discipline and execution, and anything else only qualifies as an excuse.

Nevertheless, I feel good about where I've gotten, and I thank you for being along for the ride.

Friday, July 3, 2015

One Thousand Gratitudes, Part XXVI: 375-351

Dunno if this is part of getting old or what, but I feel like the Fourth of July becomes a little bit more special every year.

Here's to spending time with family and friends.

And here's to keeping what's great about this country and expanding upon it.

Thanks for reading and enjoy the fireworks if you're lucky enough to be around any.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

One Thousand Gratitudes, Part XXV: 400-376

As the evening winds down, a new week begins, and the seventh month of working on this project comes to a close, I can't help but think about how much work we -- as people -- have to do to make this world a better place.

I don't understand how we got to where we did.

I don't understand why people hate, why they fear things different from what they value.

I don't understand the crime, the damage, and the pain some inflict upon others.

Somewhere -- I think -- in this mix called life lies an imbalance of energy.

We have to fix it.

We can't go on degrading, killing, and being unjust.

In a small meeting a couple of weeks ago, the president of my company suggested that we -- as sales people -- should focus on what we can get as opposed to that which we cannot.

It didn't hit me at first, but later, I realized that I've directed a lot of my energy in the direction of the cases I can't get (or haven't gotten yet, I always think) instead of focusing on the ones I can.

This feels analogous to the human experience, and now that I think about it, a lot of what Lao Tzu wrote in the Tao Te Ching. We should focus our energy on what we have, not that which we lack.

I'll get down off of my soap box now, but I think this starts with giving thanks.

This project has shown me the abundance of things for which I am grateful.

As always that begins with my ability. It includes my time, my computer, my mind, my paper, my printer, my Internet connection. It involves my dictionary, my pen, my family, my friends, and it involves you, the reader.

Thank you.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

One Thousand Gratitudes, Part XXIV: 425-401

Nothing should feel weird at this point, but I gotta say it feels odd to knock out another hundred. I feel grateful that things to be grateful about keep rolling in as I post these. I even had a few rain down on me while editing this section, so, depending on how long my children nap, I made get two up today.

Having typed that I expect to hear one or see the other within the next six minutes.

Anyway, I've found -- here in the last couple of months -- that my biggest challenge hinges on the proverbial practicing of that which I preach. Like before lunch today when my son's fatigue and hunger dictated his behavior. I grew short with him and bordered on mean.

Treating him that way measures as the opposite of fair. It's short-sighted and lame of me, and I'm stuck in this rut of recognizing it after the fact instead of just before it happens. Perhaps I need to practice graciousness instead of worrying about writing about it.

Thanks, as always, though, for reading, and send me vibes of strength and patience. I need little else in life right now.

Saturday, June 6, 2015

One Thousand Gratitudes, Part XXI: 500-476

I've had it suggested to me that my writing is sometimes too personal.

Another person told me that my stuff was sometimes, "T.M.I."

I don't want to sound like an asshole when I say this, but I don't know another way to write. If, at the end of the day, the only thing I can say about my writing suggests something in the way of truth and honesty, then I will feel as though I have succeeded.

I don't think that a writer can call him or her self a writer if he or she doesn't write from the heart.

I do, and I hope that those that think they love me recognize that.

I also hope they recognize that life -- the inside shit, the nuts and grains of the mind's and the soul's inner workings -- represent a body of water.

You're always susceptible to the weather, to the storms, and to the calms.

You are what you are; you feel what you feel.

Life is real. It's joyful. It's hard. It's a mixed bag.

Every day I recognize -- in different and fleeting moments -- that there are things about myself and my life I wish I could change and then I remember that I'm thankful for who I am, what I've been, and what I will become. Neither feeling cancels the other. They're just there.

Saturday, May 30, 2015

One Thousand Gratitudes, Part XX: 525-501

With this installment I ring the halfway-there bell and life appears to have no plans of slowing its pace.

Or maybe age has narrowed the gap between how things used to seem to move and how my subconscious mind anticipates they will move in the future.

My daughter's mind churns with every waking moment, absorbing the world, learning, observing, questioning.

My son has entered the speech phase, and the longer my tenure at work grows, the fewer the day's hours seem.

To get to this point in this series has taken a ton of work and the challenge of doubling the piece's size intimidates.

In the midst of it all lies the theme, the intention, the desired mindset.

For those have you that have read since the beginning, for those of you that have checked in from time to time, and for those of you that have just discovered the project, please share in the comments a gratitude (or gratitudes) of your own.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

One Thousand Gratitudes, Part XIX: 550-526

One more post and I'll no longer be able to talk about approaching the halfway point. After that I'm sure I'll reinvent a dozen different ways to refer to the proverbial home stretch.

The publishing of this entry puts me near the five-month mark in terms of the scope of this project and calling it overwhelming would be understatementish.

The hope -- as I begin to chisel away at the second tier -- will be to gain an appreciation of the challenges that others face in their lives, be they intentional or otherwise. I also have noted a bit of a perspective shift with regard to my own thinking and I wish for that to continue to develop.

If you're new to the series, you can find previous installments in the archives, and if you're curious about the impetus for starting it, it's this lady. To be fair, I haven't read what she wrote; I only know of her book through secondary sources, but the idea sounded pretty righteous. You can read a little bit more about her idea here.

Thanks, as always, for reading.

Monday, May 11, 2015

One Thousand Gratitudes, Part XVIII: 575-551

This has become tough.

Making the time, channeling the motivation, trying to find a pace, doing my best to avoid repetition.

This series has also posed the challenge of finding the appropriate mix of sincerity and humor. I don't ever want to take any of life's gifts for granted, but I want the writing to remain entertaining. To that note, I can only hope it has been.

Alas, the midway point flirts with visibility. This -- along with life itself, of course -- should propel the thing's energy, but the choppy waves ahead loom with threats of feigned originality, the whole bit of progress to be created anew.

I won't fail for trying. That I know.

Friday, May 1, 2015

Bautistas Tackle Culinary Roots and Restaurant Staples with Mobile Trend

If you do the math the Bautista family’s collective restaurant-experience total eclipses the 50-year mark and keeps going. While brothers Juan and Francisco have owned and operated Carmen’s CafĂ© for over a decade and-a-half, some might call their most recent expansion endeavors doing it backwards.

It started in the late 1980s with a midtown dishwashing gig at Villa Fontana. A 15-year-old Francisco Bautista busted suds in the operation owned by legendary Kansas City restauranteur Victor Fontana. Eight months later, however, Fontana’s doors closed, but Bautista’s old boss -- chef Anthony Ferrara -- had been hired to open Garrozo’s Ristorante at 526 Harrison. Ferrara called Bautista and in 1989 they opened the now-historic Italian-cuisine location.

Bautista -- the fourth of Juan and Carmen’s six children -- spent a decade at Garrozo’s, moving from dish to prep to salad, then grill, followed by saute. Having spent five years rising in the ranks, Bautista earned an opportunity to call the shots by landing the kitchen-manager position -- which he held for almost six years -- when Ferrara left to open his own spot, Tony Ferrara’s Italian Ristorante.

Francisco Bautista works a Wednesday lunch-order ticket while servers (sister) Monica and Juan Hernandez handle the dining room.
This month Francisco and his brother Juan (fifth of the six) celebrate 16 years in business at their 6307 Brookside Plaza location, but they don’t intend to target a second location like their three-year Leawood-location experiment at 11526 Ash Street. Instead of growing by adding buildings to their enterprise they’ve got their hands full constructing a fleet of mobile units to operate within one of today’s most popular industry endeavors: the food truck.

In the late summer of last year, the Bautista brothers debuted Carmen’s Bites, their first food truck. Featuring smaller portions of some of the restaurant’s signature items, the Bautistas and their crew served speidini sandwiches, toasted raviolis, and stuffed artichokes (among others) at events such as First Friday in the West Bottoms, the Young Friends of Art Happy Hour at the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Jazzoo, Meyer Fest at St. Peter’s Parish in Brookside, and of course this weekend's Brookside Art Fair.

(photos courtesy of Juan Bautista)

With the winter season behind them, they’ve got the mobile Bites operational again expect to sell a lot of food this weekend but their newest spot -- El Indio, Pollos Asados Al Carbon -- boasts the most consistent hours and thriving sales at 4835 Independence Avenue in the parking lot of an Aaron’s rental center. Carmen’s Bites will make its token appearances, but the new operation gets all the attention.

“The chicken business is good,” Francisco Bautista says. “We needed a spot on the Avenue, and the owner of Aaron’s loves Carmen’s, so we give his employees a discount to the food truck and hook the owner up with plenty of gift certificates for the restaurant.”

El Indio (The Indian, Coal-Roasted Chickens), runs five days a week -- Tuesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday -- and offers one menu item: roasted chicken. Whether you get a half or a whole bird, you get back to the Bautista-family roots with your order as grilled peppers and onions, rice, beans, salsa, and tortillas come with your purchase. El Indio sees steady sales for each of its five business days but the Tuesday special -- buy a whole bird, get a free half-bird -- produces the biggest numbers.

A pair of late-Friday customers order some of Gabriel Bautista's fixins.
The brothers have decked out the Bites truck with two fryers, a grill, a six-burner range, a steam table, two coolers, and a freezer. El Indio, however, has a simpler setup: two units of refrigeration and a massive char-broiler, and it has a main guy -- Jesus Monarrez (the truck’s namesake) -- in charge of the operation. The Bautistas procure and prep the birds for marinade. The chickens then get spice-rubbed, soaked, and stored in bus tubs. Upon arrival to the Aaron’s parking lot (Monarrez transports), they get grilled, often by Gabriel, the youngest Bautista.

“I’m the black sheep,” he says. “I’ve been here (El Indio), there (Carmen’s), and then sometimes I disappear. I’ll just be here whenever they need me to be.”

Gabriel Bautista says he puts in a fair amount of hours at the truck, but points to Monarrez as the man behind the operation.

“Lotta Mexican people get offended when you call ‘em that (indian), but not me, man,” Bautista says. “You see me on the street I’ll have guaraches an’ shit. A belt. I don’t give a fuck. I like that shit.”

The chicken business, as Francisco Bautista says, is good. So good that they’re close to launching a third unit and this time the destination is Kansas City, Kansas.

“We have the truck,” he says. “It’s got equipment in it and it’s ready to go.”

The spot in the Dotte occupies the southeast corner of 7th Street and Central Avenue, a vacant establishment that has housed -- among other outfits -- a Checker’s.

The possible future home of El Indio II, the Bautista's third food truck.

“We just want to rent the parking lot,” Francisco Bautista says. “We know the guys at the gas station (across the street) and they’re going to let us use their restrooms.”

The only thing remaining for the third Bautista food truck to get off the ground is for Juan and Francisco to receive their new grill. While outfitted for charcoal like the original Indio, the Kansas City Health Department has told the Bautistas that other operators have left too much of a mess behind, causing the department to all but ban coal-fueled equipment. So they’ve had to pull out the coal unit and order a propane one.

Rear, outside, and inside views of the near-ready-to-roll third Bautista truck (photos courtesy of Juan Bautista)

While some restauranteurs -- i.e. Patrick Ryan of Port Fonda -- have started with a food truck and developed the concept into a permanent location -- the Bautistas have targeted early May to get the third truck open for business, and once it’s running, they’ll have the potential to have four outfits running at one time (assuming they could staff each location). Right now coming up with the adept hands to run each spot might pose a challenge.

"Juan's the brains behind the operation," says Gabriel Bautista.

"It's relaxing," says Juan Bautista. "Carmen's Bites is more stressful because it's a bigger menu. "El Indio's simple. You're doing the same item all of the time." He admitted that running the food truck can offer a welcome change of pace, too.

"It's nice to get out of the restaurant," he said, "because you see different people."

 They may need to pull in a few other Bautistas, but with Gabriel working at El Indio, and sister Monica waiting tables at Carmen’s, the two eldest -- Roberto and Arturo -- remain the only family members not in the industry.

If El Indio II takes off, they may want to consider recruiting them.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

One Thousand Gratitudes, Part XVII: 600-576

I've let a few weeks get by since I last posted an entry, but with April all but gone and my Blues having bowed out of the post-season early again, I'm now able to manage my time a bit better.

Hooray. Blessings in disguise and such.

Anyway. I've cracked the 600s and hope to rebuild a little momentum with today's post.

Thanks, as always, to you readers, both sporadic and religious. 

Saturday, April 11, 2015

One Thousand Gratitudes, Part XVI: 625-601

Kinda fell off the train of late as my laziness always zigs when life gets busier and seems to zag. I'm not giving up, though. I've just got to find a way to get my ass in bed early enough to rise early enough to do this thing. Only takes two or three mornings of getting my butt in the chair and I can start cranking these out again.

Hard to believe I'm almost halfway there and have been at this series for just shy of a quarter of a year.

If you're new to this gig, the idea stemmed from this gal's book that I have never even held in my hand, let alone read. It came up in the wife's book club -- which is code for excuse to drink wine on a week night in one another's dining rooms -- during the winter, and it occurred to me that exploring all of the things I'm grateful for might do me some good. This is that exploration.

If you've been around since the beginning, or have just popped in here and there, many thanks to you.

Readership will always be a key portion to the writer's-fuel recipe. So, thank you for reading. 

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

One Thousand Gratitudes, Part XV: 650-626

I wish it were easier to tie up categories without post overlap, but what're'ya' gonna do?

Things -- it would seem -- got a touch intimate in this installment, and I hope that when that happens my coveted army of three readers doesn't get squeamish or offended. I'm trying to keep things real both in here and anytime I write. That's always been the intention and until I learn otherwise it always will be.

After I posted the last installment, my wife asked me if I thought this series had changed me.

I think the answer is "yes," but I think it's also a work in progress. It's easy to be in one mindset, then slip into another.

Rest assured, though, I'm trying to view the world as a thankful dude.

There's a lot of awesome out there.

And all of you are certainly part of it.

Thanks for reading.

Friday, March 20, 2015

One Thousand Gratitudes, Part XIV: 675-651

As I nibble away at the 600s it occurs to me that I have a ton of good memories, and a ton for which I am thankful. Thinking it and typing it are but two pieces, though; I must act like it.

In trying to do so, I'm also trying to be more conscious of judgment.

I don't want to think something of someone or communicate said something because I think his or her whine or gripe isn't legit'. It's tough, though.

So many people in the world exist in shitty environments or are under the control of shitty people or simply cannot crawl out from the shit into which they were born.

If you're reading this my guess is that -- chances are -- you've got it pretty good.

That doesn't mean you can't want change or seek more. It just means look around and try to at least imagine being thankful for the food you have to eat. You might feel better about things.

Thank you for reading.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

One Thousand Gratitudes, Part XIII: 700-676

After a productive February and a promising start to March, I hit a lull last week. Having a busy home calendar, everyone fighting bugs of one sort or another, and some combination of fatigue/apathy, I wrote but a couple hundred words. Back at it this morning, though, and lucky you -- you get to read about a bunch of the hats I've worn in the last 25 years.

Feel free to skip it. I know I would.

Seven Hundred: Exchange City

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

One Thousand Gratitudes, Part XII: 725-701

Dropping a brief one in this morning. This installment contains a bunch of family members that most people won't know, and it contains a couple of friends that most family members won't know. Better still, it features some public figures that a good number of neither friends nor family members will know, so it should make for a solid read with a ton of traffic.

Pleased to have had such a productive February with this series and hope that March will mirror it.

With that, I bid adieu to the 700s. You look a lot better walkin' away than you did comin' at me. Thanks for the continued readership, commentary, and compliments, people. I appreciate you all.

Seven Hundred Twenty-Five: Katarina

            My Uncle Jack married a second time, which -- anti-institution guy that he is -- surprised me. I got to meet this lady and she and all of her Swedishness exuded nothing shy of sweet beauty. They’ve been out of one another’s lives for some time now, but I have incredible memories of her jumping in with everyone in the family as though she’d known us all her life. Amazing lady. Hope she has found happiness.

Saturday, February 28, 2015

One Thousand Gratitudes, Part XI: 750-726

So it's taken two months to get one quarter of this project written, edited, and posted, which means it should be a wrap by late August.

I'm not gonna lie: That sounds awful.

I started this series because it felt like the right thing to do. It felt like we don't give thanks enough for all of the awesomeness we have. Once I got it off the ground, I saw its existence as a means for forcing myself to establish a consistent writing schedule, which started to happen a few weeks ago, but saw a setback this week.

When I got that schedule rolling, it occurred to me that training myself to have the necessary discipline to maintain such a schedule could give me the confidence to work on a larger, non-blog project, like a novel.

Now, though, as I prepare to click "Publish" on the 11th installment, and I think about having to do this through two additional entire seasons without working on anything else, I feel that nasty, this-is-threatening-to-become-a-chore rumble in my gut, which defeats so many purposes on so many levels.

My hope is that after getting this up, napping, showering, recharging with some friends and my wife this evening, and getting some sleep tonight, I'll feel refreshed about the whole thing again in the morning, or at least by the next time I sit down to work on it.

Anyway...As always: Thanks for reading.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

One Thousand Gratitudes, Part X: 775-751

I'm not sure if a correlation lies between these two things or not, but brevity and dudes I like both seemed thematic in this installment. Draw your own conclusions.

Only thing I'm drawing looks like a pie chart that says I'm a quarter of the way through this thing.


Seven Hundred Seventy-Five: the Benevento Russo Duo

            Marco Benevento and Joe Russo employed keyboards, drums, technology, and occasional guests, and in doing so made more meaningful music than most modern four- and five-piece outfits have recorded in their dreams. They managed this via four studio(ish) albums in a 42-month stretch, and never included a single lyric. The Duo’s unique riffs harnessed electronic emotion and tossed it around the studio with the control of a lariat-clutching roper. I’ve never been exposed to a two-piece rock outfit before, and never did I imagine that a pair of classically trained dudes could convey feeling via instrumental jams. Wicked cool. Short-lived, but wicked cool.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

One Thousand Gratitudes, Part IX: 800-776

As I put the finishing touches on this installment two things occur to me: 1) I still have some 30 posts to go; 2) I'm going to need to Google Roman numerals soon.

Anyway, thanks for reading.

Eight Hundred: Pandify?

            I log on to Spotify about once a year. I don’t get Spotify. I can’t find anything I want to listen to, and it takes me like 10 minutes to make any of the stuff offered play. With Pandora, I create a station and, as the songs play, I say whether I think they suck or not, and Pandora adapts. Pandora and I get each other. Easy peas-y, library fees-y.

            Right now my Pandora’s broken, though, so thanks for being around Spotify. I totally wanted to wake up this morning and listen to a whole album by The Decemberists. What is this, The Glee Club?

Saturday, February 14, 2015

One Thousand Gratitudes, Part VIII: 825-801

I've been on a new writing schedule for a couple of weeks now and feel pleased to recognize the productivity potential it contains. I have to pat myself on the back for the concerted effort of getting in bed at a reasonable time and I of course have to thank my wife for her support. I can't accomplish much without her and all that she does.

Anyway, we'll be into the 700s with the next installment. I feel certain that my vast readership will have "700 Club" t-shirts printed and in distribution by Tuesday.

You people rock.

Jokes aside: Thank you for reading.

Friday, February 13, 2015

One Thousand Gratitudes, Part VII: 850-826

If you're just tuning in, I've taken on this monster, the inspiration of which stemmed from this gal's efforts (minus all the Jesus-y stuff). The idea -- or my interpretation of it -- has to do with recognizing that life is pretty good, even when it's not. I get that that's a loaded statement. I have food, health, a wonderful family, and zero worries regarding the source of my next fill in the blank. Keeping the mind clear, however, can -- at times -- feel like a full-time job. I don't want that. I don't want that for my friends and loved ones. So I'm doing this to try and better myself. If reading it doesn't bear direct embetterment upon you, perhaps it will do so in a roundabout fashion by giving you smaller doses of a less shitty me.

Don't bother looking up "embetterment," either. Totes just made it up.

Thanks for reading.

Saturday, February 7, 2015

One Thousand Gratitudes, Part VI: 875-851

I'm on pace to crank out a few of these in February, so thanks again to those of you that have joined me in this series. As I work my way through the 700s and into page 100, I'm trying to keep in mind how monotonous some of these might sound, and in doing so I find myself trying to figure out for whom I should feel sorry for the most: me the person for having such an apparent lack of diversity in my life or you the reader who keeps coming back to read about my lameness.

It's a tossup, I tell ya'.

Anyway: six down; 34 to go.

Seriously, though: Thank you for reading.

Eight Hundred Seventy-Five: Miami

            South Florida may have many mysteries. It may. I’ll include Miami in that mix.

            I suppose things always feel that way away from home, though. Navigating streets, participating in public transportation, clutching maps, punching in GPS locations, arrivals and departures. I also suppose that the size of a city either magnifies or shrinks the sensation, and Miami -- the Shaquille O’Neal of cities -- looms over Kansas City, more of a Steven Nash or a Chris Paul.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

One Thousand Gratitudes, Part V: 900-876

As we crack the second set of hundreds it occurs to me that I'm not going to love each of these installments. This is one of those. Don't get me wrong: I love every one of them on an individual level; I just don't dig the chunk as a collective. Either that or this project has begun to loom overhead with intimidation.

I've realized the difficulty in laying all of this out and that's to sound (and be) genuine about each and every entry and carry some of the feeling behind each one into daily life.

Anyway, thanks for reading, and here's to the things in your life for which you might be grateful.

Nine Hundred: John D. Fitzgerald’s The Great Brain series

            If any collection struck me in the profound way that the adventures of John, Tom, and Sweyn did, then it must not have been that profound after all because I do not remember it. I don’t recall how I came across my first Fitzgerald read. Perhaps a stroke of coincidence led to me having one of those books in my hands. Maybe the cover struck me at the library. It’s possible that a recommendation steered me. Whatever the case, these installments whetted my appetite for series reading, priming my future novel interests. I’ve managed to get my hands on six of the eight titles, and the next time I come across a copy of the other two, my collection will be complete. The fond memories of devouring these unique treasures leave me thankful Fitzgerald wrote them, grateful that my mom was a library mom.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

One Thousand Gratitudes, Part IV: 925-901

Turns out I'm only getting two installments up in January.


I think I'm coming to terms with how much time this will take, though. Now my concern is coming up with 800 more -- I'm trying to stay four entries ahead -- things for which I can claim to be thankful.

Wouldn't that be shitty if I literally just ran out of things at like 677? I'd probably sound like a real asshole and people would be all like, Uhh-nnhhh, He doesn't even like grass or birds or the fact that Taco Bell is open until four a.m.

Guess what? Probably not going to be a problem. As long as we keep producing crappy people in this country, the beautiful elements stand out even more.

Yay, balance!

Anyway, here's this...

Nine Hundred Twenty-Five: synchronicity

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

One Thousand Gratitudes, Part III: 950-926

This is taking much longer than I thought.

Thanks, Obama!

I still have determination, though, and that will get me to at least 700. Everything after that will probably be about the variety of farts and boogers that once dwelled inside my body, but have since been set free into the world. 

It should come as no surprise that it's taken longer than anticipated to crank out three installments considering that it takes me 10 minutes to share a 90-second verbal anecdote.


The idea came from this site, and if I haven't said it already, the motivation in taking this on centers on increased mindfulness, the notion that -- as my wife said today -- "things are pretty good."

I'd like to remember that much more often than I do, and if you've chosen to join me on this journey, I hope that things are pretty good for you, too.

Nine Hundred Fifty: John Lennon

            I never met the man, and I won’t even try to speak to what kind of man he was, but from where I sit, it looks like he was a pretty righteous dude. I also don’t want to over-credit him for The Beatles’ success, but it seemed like a lot of the musical things he touched turned to gold. I don’t know the things that went on in John Lennon’s head. I don’t have a finger on everything he stood for, but from over here it appears that he had a pretty good idea of the way the world ought to operate. Caveat: I’m a giant hippie, so you have to take my opinion with a whole box of kosher salt. It’s interesting to think about whether the world would be any different were he still alive and a bit sad when you consider that -- based on what he symbolized -- it’s not. Anyway, I’m thankful he was around for 40 years. We could use another guy like that.