Tuesday, July 14, 2015

One Thousand Gratitudes, Part XXVIII: 325-301

The kids have awoken and I've got to get the day rolling, so here's another submission.

Thanks for reading.

Three Hundred Twenty-Five: “A Day in the Life”

            Pandora treated me to this one at the gym the other morning. What an experiment it must’ve been to write and record that number. I love the venues it traverses, the styles it touches, the dream state woven into it. Such a beautiful song.

Three Hundred Twenty-Four: #POTUS and #SCOTUS

            So much has happened to language since the advent of text messaging and the Internet. I enjoy hashtaggery (when used in moderation) and always appreciate a good acronym. These might be two of my favorite of the moment; they represent two enormous American establishments, but just look dirty.

            And I like dirty.

Three Hundred Twenty-Three: chat lingo

            I don’t care how used to things we get, how convenient something might be dubbed, how lazy we might seem. I will never, ever use “smh,” “Idk,” “LOL,” or any of these disgusting abbreviations in any kind of serious nature. Ever. I realize that that makes me stubborn or snooty or what have you, and I’m fine with that. I like that I love language and respect it for most of its initial appearances.

Three Hundred Twenty-Two: my gut looking smaller (today)

            It’s hard to gauge anything with my metabolism and my tendency to eat flour tortillas and pound beer as if the survival of humanity depends on it, but I’ve exercised four times this week and right now my fat, pasty, hairy stomach looks a touch smaller than it did yesterday.

            Baby steps, but I’ll take it.

            (Update: Nevermind. Turned out it was just the t-shirt I had on. Gut’s still there in all its glory.)

Three Hundred Twenty-One: the Fare Thee Well shows

            This thing got underway the evening I wrote this. The announcement of these gigs brought great joy to many (myself included), and once the shows launched, great happiness saturated the jam-band community. Good stuff.

Three Hundred Twenty: calf-cramp cessation

            I’ve never really talked to anyone about leg cramps, but every once in a while, I will get an insane cramp in one of my calves. It always happens as I am coming out of a sleep and it springboards me upright with a writhing, uncontrollable pain. Sometimes they occur in a series of cramps that feel like I’ve had my leg run over. Other times it’s one huge cramp that feel as if individual sections of the muscle have been pinched between enormous gears.

            Always they render me immobile and noisy.

            The other morning I had the worst one I’ve ever experienced. I could see the sections of muscle pulsating beneath my skin as though the sections of flesh had become a multi-cylinder engine, rising and quivering, driven by an invisible source of combustion. These pieces of muscle rose and throbbed, dropping to give way for another to rise, like my leg was a portion of a type-set machine, hammering away at an ink press that produced nothing legible. It lasted most of 10 minutes and -- unlike other scenarios -- I could not massage the muscle segments out of their spasms.

            When at last they subsided, my entire lower leg was sore. Once upright it took several minutes before I could put any weight on it and most of the day before I could again walk normal.

            I don’t know if this is a hydration issue, or my muscles coming out of their four-year atrophy, or a combination of the two, but good God was it horrific.

            Glad it’s over.

Three Hundred Nineteen: “Push on Til the Day”

            A beautiful song by Trey Anastasio. Rolling horns, snappy bass, and feel-good lyrics. Always gotta crank the volume for this number.

Three Hundred Eighteen: Sublime

            Me gusta mi reggae, Me gusta punk rock, Pero la cosa que me gusta mas es panochita.”
            Not the wittiest or the classiest lyrics, but damn did that outfit have punch for a small handful of 1990s years.

            It seemed, if only for a minute, that everyone liked this band. I’m sure plenty would disagree, but it felt that way, and when music does that it’s a pretty cool thing.

Three Hundred Seventeen: LEGO

            I never had a ton of ‘em, but what a toy. What a simple, extravagant, timeless, make-you-think-and-appreciate delight. Hours of fun; a lifetime of memories.

Three Hundred Sixteen: the abyss of live Grateful Dead out there

            I started a cassette bootleg collection about 20 years ago, but my tape acquisitions tapered with the end of college and my acquiescence of the compact disc’s permanence. I let the Dick’s Picks series get off the ground and explode without even giving one installment a fair listen. I feel like there really is a lifetime worth of Dead out there. It can be had and it can be heard. One day I might get back in the game. I’m sure I’d enjoy the hell out of doing so, but even if I never do, you can dig just knowing it’s out there.

Three Hundred Fifteen: my 40th-birthday scrapbook

            Two of my sisters scrapbook. One of them belongs in a 12-step scrapbook program. I have received one or two small scrapbook gifts over the years and contributed to a few others (Note: By “contributed” I mean that I shoved my submissions into the thing seconds before the recipient opened it for the first time, which brought immeasurable pleasure to my sister.). The large scrapbook gifts my sister has assembled have never fallen short of amazing, and how I wound up blindsided by the fact that one had been crafted for my 40th still surprises me. I mean, I didn’t even sniff a hint of it coming until the thing was in my hands.

            Anyway, I don’t care for birthdays. I’ve probably said it in here somewhere, but when people make a big deal out of their birthday, or have the audacity to call a calendar stretch their birthday week, or -- gulp -- month, I cringe a bit. I didn’t want anyone to make a deal out of my 40th birthday. No party, no cake, no gifts, no Jager shots…Okay, maybe one Jager shot (or seven). Maybe eat some pizza and get a little rub and a tug from the ol’ lady, preferably while I shove my ninth piece of pie into my fat face, and preferably not get judged for being my gross and greasy self.

            Anyway, I got a scrapbook and it’s pretty amazing. Lots of great contributions and pictures, and memories, and good feelings. I treasure it, am thankful for it, and look forward to showing some of the pages to (and hiding others from) my children.

Three Hundred Fourteen: my stepmom’s entry in said scrapbook

            When I thought of writing a gratitude about that fantastic gift, my stepmom’s entry stood out, not because it’s the best, and not because it’s my favorite.

            It stands out because of a thing she did with it, the way she composed it, the way she kept it brief, covered the bases, and compressed time. I appreciate it for the way it’s written:

Three Hundred Thirteen: the time I entered the Columbia University literary magazine’s writing contest

            I didn’t win. I probably wasn’t even a finalist. I barely remember even hearing back regarding my submissions, but, at the urging of my sister-in-law’s friends, I hunkered down and retooled three grad-school short fiction pieces.

            Winning would’ve been awesome, but I’m really glad I committed myself to the work, did it, and entered. I almost felt like a professional.

Three Hundred Twelve: unnamed friend #36

            This kid held the Editor-in-Chief position of our college newspaper when I joined the staff as a writer in 1995.

            For reasons I cannot explain, I remember feeling surprised that the title belonged to a woman, but that feeling vanished like a Colorado afternoon rainstorm as her talents and abilities rushed over me with swiftness and precision.

            Unnamed friend number 36 took me -- as much as her time permitted me to -- under her wing. She gave me assignments, she let me err, and coached me on how I could improve. She also became a friend and didn’t hold it against me that I did not hail from the Centennial State, or that I did not pursue an English major.

            She graduated a year ahead of me, and left considerable shoes to fill for her heir, but she had paved the way for how the job should be done. I have seen unnamed friend number 36 six or seven times since our college days and I feel like our relationship gets better every time.

            I admire this friend for the sense of independence she has displayed for all of the 20 years I have known her, and I will always appreciate the fact that she -- having skinny dipped with me -- did not vomit upon seeing me naked.

Three Hundred Eleven: cheeseburger and fries

            An American staple. The thought of it makes me salivate and yawn at the same time, but man, hard to beat a good burger and some crispy spuds.

Three Hundred Ten: the time we went out to eat in St. Louis (again), had shitty service (again), mediocre food (again), and discovered this article on the train ride back to Kansas City.

            So true, so timely, and so freaking hilarious.

Three Hundred Nine: fruit

            Berries, bananas, mangos, grapes, oranges, Honeycrisp apples…so good, especially cold. Well, I mean…not the bananas.

Three Hundred Eight: memories of making mix tapes

            I think if I had to go back to adolescence, relive crushes and puberty, and the anxiety of hoping your mix-tape recipient takes the gift with a fuzzy heart instead of feeling creeped out, I’d put my hands in the blender and set it to “liquefy” so that I could not unwrap those fresh Maxell XL IIs. (Note: ‘Member how great those things smelled new? Anyway…)

            Ah, love.

            How sweet the notion of recognizing that your talent at assembling tracks on miniature reel to reel warrants the gift of giving an assortment of cuts that, together, suggest a 15-year-old’s assertion of us two equals forever.

            I think embarrassment did me the favor of anesthetizing the memory cells associated with any mix-tape handoffs I may have executed. I did love the craft and cobbling of the now-antiquated room-and-car soundtrack. Just a shame it got ruined by hormones.

Three Hundred Seven: Trey Anastasio’s “Drifting”

I've been drifting,
For years at sea.
But now, you've come along,
To rescue me.

And the fog is lifted,
We got the moon and the stars above.

Since you came along, (love, love, love)
I'm back where I belong.
(love, love, love)
Since you rescued me,
(love, love, love)
The whole world is there to see.

And the storm has lifted.
We've got the moon and stars above..

In Mornin'
It's plain to see.
Smell coffee in the air.
You're here with me.

I'm walkin' down the street.(love, love, love)
The sun beams down. (love, love, love)
The grass is cool beneath my feet.
My head is spinnin' round and round'

And the storm has lifted.
We've got the moon and stars above.

Three Hundred Six: South Park clip #15: Facebook

Three Hundred Five: streaming

            I gave YouTube a 20-spot for the Friday-night “Fare Thee Well” show in Santa Clara and a buddy came over to view it with me. Bless you, technology. For all of the hurry-up-and-waits you give us, you deliver some pretty amazing stuff, too.

Three Hundred Four: s’mores

            These things don’t taste that good, but I’ll always have an appreciation for the art of toasting marshmallows. I love the collective-unconscious comfort that camping and making graham-cracker sandwiches offers, and if one thing can give my wife and daughter unbridled elation then that alone obligates me to give thanks for it.

Three Hundred Three: Sunday dusk with minimal anxiety

            Some time in recent memory ago, I reached a point where the weekends feel busier than the work week, and I’ve struggled to be at peace with this reality. Work is such a thing, such a burden, a necessity, a source of stress, such a load of pressure that our minds -- at least mine -- seldom sees calm unless I manage to check the work things off of the work list, the home/life things off of the non-work list. On those Sunday evenings that the sun’s light fades and I notice a lack of crinkle in my brow, I feel good about things.

            I guess time management, prioritizing, and the consistent pursuit of life’s goals contribute to the achievement of that feeling. I’m thankful for when I obtain it.

            And since that particular weekend had a healthy dose of Anastasio in it, why not:

Sunday morning
Shadows on the shade
Yellow dusted fingers bent
Through day old lemonade
Sounds of breathing
The birds singing in the trees
Beautiful monring
There's no place I'd rather be

I sit right down and I rest awhile
By a shady tree
Golden rows of summer
Stretched as far as I can see
Sounds of music
Are rippling through my head
Hammy's in the kitchen
Captain's still in bed

Cuz life is just a funny dream
And someday
I'll share this dream with you
Just to be with you
This much I pray
It's true, it's true, it's true, it's true

Life is just a funny dream
And someday
I'll share this dream with you
Just to be with you
This much I pray
It's true, it's true, it's true, it's true, it's true, it's true

Three Hundred Two: restauranteurs that are making it

            I’m grateful to know people in the industry that -- even if they’ve known struggle along the way -- have found success. I take pride in seeing the ones that’ve embraced determination, the ones that have sweat and have cried into their product and establishment, found comfort in their work. It makes me happy to see that people who own and/or operate a place can take days off, travel, or enjoy a vacation. I give thanks that I can recognize a portion of what it took them to get to where they are. Some of those folks I call business partners and when they recognize that we both value our relationships it makes it even better.

Three Hundred One: the guitar

            I’ve driven down Nostalgia Drive in this series, reflecting upon my various flings with musical instruments, and while some of my toys have been sold, I’ve hung on to a few, one of which bears the name of Fender and sits in a soft-shell case on the back side of my basement stairs. The cat-hair littered cover protects the certain-to-be-out-of-tune vehicle for sound, and I think with infrequency about trying to carve out some time to play.

            That fleeting thought vanishes as quick as it arrives, but I’m glad I have it. One day I will play again, perhaps with my daughter, and I’m thankful for the imagery of that vision.

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