Last night, a friend of mine called me a POX which is different from a COX in terms of anatomical references and existential ownership of pride and masculine adolescent judgments. I could not accept the put down, sorry hash taggers, my ego does not accept that kind of ridicule and instead of tweeting, suing, or going to some dreary chain coffee shop and crying into a latte, I maturely came back at him with a, “Your Mom,” and set out on a plan to prove him I can be every bit of COX.

I woke to temperatures that were hovering around two-degrees, which is nothing to brag about since it was way worse than that further north. Still, though, I had never run in temperatures below the teens. Today would be different, I ran, on a gimpy calf dang-it, and alone at that. I listened to my leg, wondered about my breath freeze, and even managed to smile a couple of times. It wasn’t too bad and since there wasn’t a wind, I never worried about frostbite.

As I finished the run, I could tell something is different with me. It’s those uncommon thoughts that I’ve been saturated by lately. Getting out there and being in the game and actually living has allowed me to be a COX and not a POX. Sure there is a little stupidity in running under the weather and physical conditions I’m living with right now, but it sure felt good to be called foolish by those who have motivated me to get off my duff and stick with running. After all, what’s a COX without balls? In this group, that would be a fitness eunuch, I suppose. Perhaps, ePOX would be appropriate there.

This month I’ve been exploring my relationship to apathy. I suppose I do care about a lot of stuff, more so than I thought, anyway. My grumpiness about things annoying are probably not about apathy, maybe more like boredom or insecurity. I don’t know which yet, but that’s what 2019 is all about, finding an understanding about the inner workings of this COX, the potential therein, and the journey of reclaiming a soul.

Alright, it was just a run in really cold air. Nothing too enlightening… Or was it?…

Hey, Tattoo Buddha, I got my run in. Meow…

2018

Thank you to everyone who stopped by this my this year. The bulk of the posts went to a group of unhappy characters in the fictional town of Taylorville as I attempted to complete a challenge from my daughter to write a verse novel with one post each day. I ended up with 365-poems, but I didn’t follow her rules all of the time. I’m betting she didn’t follow all of my rules through the years either…

I also published a verse novel called, “Mothers Forever.” The process of self-publishing a book was exciting and frustrating. You can find the book at all of the online retailers, so buy a copy for yourself, buy a copy for your family members, and buy lots of copies for your friends… So ends the shameless plug…

There were more visitors to the blog than ever before. Hopefully, the posts were entertaining. Again, thank you for stopping by.

2019

The new year will be another “themed” year. I’ve been interested in revisiting some of the research skills from my dissertation days and doing a “study.” I’ve given myself informed consent and will be exploring my relationship with apathy, goal commitment, and self-efficacy while setting out to run a couple of marathons and lose a few stubborn pounds. The blog posts will include the normal fare of poetry and photography, but I am also going to write a few non-fiction articles and share the results of my “study” as the year progresses. If all goes to plan, the creative side will enhance the “life hack” side and the year will be a success.

Then again, maybe I shouldn’t have any expectations. They are so limiting.

As always, please comment as you see fit and have a great year!

In my later years of schooling, I became a better student. Part of my maturation was the understanding that it was my responsibility to make learning meaningful. My teachers could not teach me. My coaches did not coach me. My professors were there as guides. It was me who was the learner. I was the one who made all of those people’s lessons important or not.

It wasn’t my parents.
It wasn’t a politician.
It wasn’t my teachers, coaches, or professors, either.

I was the sole determinant as to whether I was going to understand, appreciate, and apply all of the lessons those mentors (less the politicians) put before me. I think I began to understand that near the end of high school. There are bits of my academic life in high school that stand out, but I was too immature and entitled to understand how my inability to make school a priority was something that might hurt me later in life.

And who was there to bail me out?…

Not my parents.

That sounds harsh and it should not. I thank my parents for allowing me to succeed and fail on my own volition. They were never at school when I got bad grades. In their way, they let me know that I would regret not doing better and they could rest assured that they were correct. They were never in a coach’s face (email had not been invented yet) when I didn’t get as much playing time or as much water as I thought I should have gotten. They never compared my placement on a team with any other player, nor sought to rationalize my status on a team with any perceived feelings the coaches might have had about me or my family. They were great that way.

They let me create my successes and helped me celebrate the big stuff.

They also let me feel the pain of my failures and taught me to take personal responsibility for them.

I never made it far as an athlete. I had an average high school career in two sports and an ego-deflating failure in another. It’s funny, but the third, which was my worst, is the only one I still pursue nearly thirty-five years later. Running is more about me being true to myself than anything and I was a terrible runner at seventeen. All these years later, I’ve learned more about patience, commitment, and competition for running that I ever did playing baseball or basketball. Still, though, I got to pitch in a couple of college baseball games and the writing was on the wall…or maybe it was the stitches of the baseballs as they got knocked around the park. I was not an athlete.

That was a hard pill to swallow because so much of my life was wrapped up in sports. Without the lessons my parents gave me about moving on and not spending too much time in a funk, I was able to get on with the business of being the best me that I could become. I’m training for my twelfth marathon, have earned a doctorate in education, published a book of poetry, and most importantly, am one part of a great family.

I’m not in the business of giving advice, okay, maybe I am since I teach and coach, but it is time for us (the adults) to allow students to fail. We have to teach them that they are responsible for their successes and failures. We can guide them through the pitfalls of life, but each of us must face the realities of our experiences with the skills to survive and the dignity to own our station.

Just saying…

I just left the beach where I experienced a margarita (or more) induced nap and I’m sitting on the couch after a cold shower and I can feel the heat of the day leaving my body. A Vornado fan that has served me well for over a year is doing its best to copy the changing winds from the shore. Dessert came first, tonight, a hunk of Rocky Road fudge with LA Women, the whole album blasting through headphones. I’ve got my head back wishing for a dark, dirty honky tonk to put them down and end this perfect day.

Last week, I did a post about my all-time favorite albums. The criteria were simple, I usually listen to the albums start to finish and I like them. This time around, I’m going for my favorite “Greatest Hits” albums. Honestly, I think greatest hits albums are a bit of rip, especially for groups that have them with very little to offer, but I’m a consumer, so I must be gullible. Hopefully, I’m not that way as a voter. I rest with a clear conscience after our last election…

Once again, feel free to share your greatest hits album favorites in the comments. I’ll check them out, but please play nice, I realize there may be limitations to my choices.

1. Chicago IX (Chicago): For me, it’s the summer of ’83 and I’m jamming with the windows open in my bedroom, the smell of boxwood shrubs outside, and a cool breeze coming off the James River before I head to Busch Gardens for work.

2. Crossroads (Eric Clapton): Don’t get snippy with me, it’s my list. I realize this is a box set, but if it had not be for this set, I might not be where I am today. If everything happens for a reason, I was meant to sit in my Philadelphia apartment listening to this for hours as I contemplated moving back to the South. Thank goodness for Sam Goody’s. Anyone for Tennis…

3. Dreams (Allman Brothers): Yada, yada, yada…I get it, you’re not a fan of box sets. See Crossroads… These two sets are my 1990-1991 year. Without them, who knows where I’d be.

4. Legend (Bob Marley and the Wailers): There is more to reggae than Bob, but I bet this album is the one the allowed all the other reggae artists to get paid. You can go wrong with any of the songs on this album and “Three Little Birds” might be my favorite. Many years after a reggae summer, I saw Ziggy Marley in concert. It was cool getting just a hint of the Bob vibe.

5. Eagles Vol. 1 (Eagles): My first album as a fifth grader was Already Gone. It was a gift from my sisterish aunt. The song, “Already Gone,” is one of those anthem songs for me. I think that the Eagles are the first band that I became aware of and this album is full of great songs. [Vol 2 came a little too soon for me. Okay, the more I think about, the more I think it should be on the list. Let’s include it without making it official.]

6. All the Great Hits (Commodores): After taking a rocket fuel ride in a lime green Monte Carlo, circa 1976, with Brick House blasting, I was a Commodores fan. I still wish Lionel Richie has stayed with them, but at least there’s this collection.

7. The Best of Earth, Wind, and Fire Vol. 1 (EWF): Nothing screams middle school like the Commodores and EWF. Where the Commodores faded away, EWF tightly held its grip on me. They are a big part of my second act and I once rode an escalator with one of the guys in the band. It was about twenty minutes before a show at the Borgota and I wasn’t sure, but when I saw him on stage, I knew. The energy of their show is awesome, just be prepared to stand up because everybody knows all the words and everyone wants to dance.

8. Greatest Hits 1974-78 (Steve Miller Band): All of my friends in high school had trucks. They were very different than the one I drive now as they only had the one bench seat. We would cram three or four into the cab and head down the road. All of my friends also had this album on cassette. We listened to it a lot. Thank goodness it’s a keeper.

So there you have it, eight greatest hits albums that left a lasting impression somewhere within my musical soul.

Oh, no, I forgot “Hooligans,” by The Who… It’s got to be on there somewhere…

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Note: This is a bit of a political rant… Just saying…agree or don’t, but be nice.

How great is that the President of the United States is planning his defense for potential charges that go against everything America stands for and then disinvites a championship team that is named after a national symbol, E-A-G-L-E-S because they believe in a person’s right to protest?

It’s not great at all, but that is the way of things in our country today. The Philadelphia Eagles, who won the Super Bowl, will not be attending the White House as has been the tradition for championship teams for some time now. The reason was that too few of the team members were going to show up, so Trump bailed. It’s great that the team, by standing up for what it believed and backing it up with several players planning to do charity work in DC rather than bow to the minister of deceit, have shown that we must stick up for what is right within ourselves. Further, the country is not about Republican, Democrat, or Trump, it’s about our laws and beliefs that we have certain inalienable rights, one being freedom of speech.

The President has shown again that he doesn’t believe in that right unless it’s about him.

Funny, I started writing this while listening to a suggestion by a fellow blogger that Some Girls by the Rolling Stones is a great album to listen to start to finish. Having never done it, I put my headphones on and started pounding away on the keys wondering if I stepped over some proper boundary in expressing my opinion about the idiocy that is happening in the ever-deepening swamp in my nation’s capital. Have I gone all rock and roll on this thing and put my invite to the White House in jeopardy? My first book of poetry is coming out soon and I’m sure I’ll get an invite or an offer to do an open mic in the White House. Yeah, right…

Let me say, I hope I haven’t ruined that opportunity if it even was a chance. I’d love to make a profit off the White House, it’s in vogue right now. Additionally, I have a great deal of respect for the office of the President. I know that the job is a no-win servitude, kind of like the Rolling Stones singing “Just My Imagination.” (Some acts should not be covered… All say, “NIXON.”) At least, however, the Stones’ version is acceptable, not an embarrassment, and catchy in that garage band-country crossover Rolling Stones way. 1600’s replay of the early 1970s political games, however, is far from respectful. The President seems to want to erase the slate of Nixon’s malfeasance, by rising to a higher level of whatever may or may not be Constitutionally allowed. And why, who knows, ego?

As it goes, the Eagles are probably better off. They don’t have to put up with ridicule for not being themselves. They don’t have to be associated with Russian diplomats and North Korean emissaries/spies as those two groups have been invited to chat with the Manhattan monarch. The Eagles should just be proud of being American and standing by their values and respecting the tenets of our country.

Hey, Congress…

BTW: Some Girls is worth a start to finish listening…Interesting that I like “Respectable” the best… I also realize that I’m late to the RS party. Unfortunately, in 1978, I was in the throws of a disco detox. Thank goodness for middle school, The Who, and The Eagles (coincidently).

I watch a lot of Jason Silva videos on YouTube. Silva talks on a plane that is different than most of my regular conversations. The video today was about making sure that we stay connected to our ability to experience “Awe,” but he concedes that it is difficult to do with our minds that are bound by routine, encased in judgment, and generally overloaded at every turn.

I agree with him, but I often don’t, too. As I reflected on this Saturday, I tried to see what moments of awe occurred in my routine, overloaded, judgmental existence.

1. How does my dog know what time it is? Everyday at 5:45, his cold, wet nose bangs into my stuffed up, down for the count nose. It’s all good, though, there’s no annoying ringtone to shock me out of my sleep.

2. Has society taken the awe from education? Breakfast with a teacher friend had me thinking that we have forgotten that school is supposed to be about developing a knowledge that is available to a person when they need it. John Dewey wrote that quite a long time ago, but I think education has become about developing knowledge for now, a disposable, temporary thing, and not in a ready to use sense. That’s “awful” to me.

3. Does serpantine rock have some sort of restorative power? The pool that I go to is in an old quarry where serpentine rock was mined. The quarry is quiet for a pool, the mood is chill, and I leave there peaceful and exhausted. Today, my wife had to wake me as I broke the stillness of the vibe with some afternoon snoring. Falling asleep next to the crystal clear water is like falling asleep on the subway, but without the jostling, the forced public touching, and the pee smell circa 1985. My pool experience is none of that, more Walden…

4. Do I need sunblock if I’m sleeping under an umbrella? Light fascinates me. The way it bends, the way it pulls out the anxiety, the way it promotes good… Too bad it burns too.

5. Were the 80s all that bad? I listened to a long and intellectual dissection of the staying power of the song “Africa” by Toto. I’ll admit to owning a few Toto CDs because…I liked them. Sorry to the haters, but if people are still sampling and covering the song, there must be something great to it. Additionally, Cobra Kai has added to the myth of The Karate Kid. What if Daniel was the bully that YouTube suggested he was? Could he have ruined Johnny’s life? Am I going to have to get YouTube Red to find out? Maybe…

6. Finally, given the musical influence I’ve been under lately, I took a suggestion to check out Roxy Music. I’m not sure where I was when they were around, probably in Boston, Asia, Alabama, or caught up in a reggae phase, but I’m digging their music.

There you go Jason Silva, that was my day. I had never experienced this day before and it was good.

No, it was awesome.

List posts can be lazy or fun, it all depends on your perspective, I suppose. I’ve been in a music mind lately. My son, a guitar player, has me thinking about the rhythms of writing and how words can be musical or just abstract avenues to greater understanding. He and I also have been talking about what makes something interesting and I have to say, “I don’t know.” So, from him, I’ve got a music thing going.

An old high school friend reached out today and we messaged back and forth about Bonnaroo which was the focus of a recent post. He and I have not seen each other since maybe 1986-87, but music became a connection today as it did with a fellow blogger and super writer “Copper Cranes.”

While the vibes are high, I’m going to lay down my favorite albums. Not all of them were huge critical or commercial successes, but for whatever reason, they resonated with me. These are “start to finish” albums which means that I listen to them in full and without skipping any songs. There may be others, but for now, this is it. Feel free to add your own in the comments as I’m always looking out for albums I should check out.

Sorry, MT, I left Sting off the list, although that was a good show back in our college days.

1. The Way It Is, Bruce Hornsby: Bruce is a local guy for me and this first album has carried me through all these years. It’s serious, sentimental, and soothing. A great combination…

2. The Final Cut, Pink Floyd: Don’t kill me on this one, Floyd fans. I know that it doesn’t resonate with many, but I find the emotions to be deep and the story to be so important.

3. The Joshua Tree, U2: The second CD I ever owned (The Wall…). For me this album is about The Edge and his biting guitar. The more I listen to it, the better it sounds.

4. Yell Fire, Michael Franti and Spearhead: This album came to me at an important time in life. I would take long walks in the evening with this blasting on an iPod Classic. There was enough happy pop to mask the serious nature of the album so it could move me past angry yet satisfy my need to be “causey.”

5. No Alibis, Eric Clapton: I grew up in a southern museum town and moved to a major east coast city. To say that there was a little culture shock would be an understatement. Truth is, the city has taken over my heart and Clapton through many songs helped foster that change. This album, though, was there every day during that first year of urban living.

6. Born In the USA, Bruce Springsteen & the E-Street Band: There is so much to choose from with Bruce, Atlantic City and The Rising nearly making this list as well, but this album is about a 1976 maroon Pontiac Grand Prix and more high school shenanigans than my mother would want me to write about in a public forum.

7. On the Road, Lee Roy Parnell: My earliest years were spent in a small Texas town. Lee Roy is from that town and this album helped me break my phobia of country music. It’s the background noise to my writing of this post and as retirement gets closer I think about that “gold plated watch.”

As with any list, there will be criticisms, but remember, this is a “me” list and not some kind of statement as to the absolute nature of any of these albums. They all speak to me today, but the list could easily change tomorrow. (See LA Women, Hotel California, Sweet Baby James, Thriller, Kind of Blue…)

My mother asked for something funny on the blog. This actually happened…

Enjoy, Mom…

Teaching health classes can be interesting. We talk about a great deal of personal “stuff” and this marking period is all about human sexuality. Today’s topic: What is sex? What is contraception?

Our discussion was all about preventing unintended pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases. We use an abstinence-plus model, so our discussion will eventually lead to a discussion of a variety of contraceptive methods. The students were categorizing a list of behaviors as to whether they believed each behavior was “sex” or “not sex.” The last three behaviors on the list were vaginal penetration, anal penetration, and oral penetration, each worded that way for a purpose beyond discussing here.

It is important for the story to know that I teach this class in another teacher’s classroom. Sometimes he stays in the room, but most of the time he leaves. Occasionally, he will forget something and come back to get it. He always apologizes or makes a comment about whatever we are talking about. Today was the best collision of his comments and our content as he never looked at the board to see what we were talking about.

Me: Is vaginal penetration sex?

Class: (Crickets)

The door opened and Mr. HaHa walked in.

Mr. HaHa: I’m sorry. I’ll be in and out fast.

Me: Hmmm, interesting.

Class: (Giggling)

Mr. HaHa: I must be the butt of some joke right now.

Me: Not yet, maybe in a minute…

Class: (Louder giggling)

Me: Is anal penetration sex?

Mr. HaHa: Oh, gosh.

Class: (Roaring)

Say what you will, this was funny. I know there are many attitudes about what should be taught in a health class with respect to these very personal behaviors, but this lesson had the right amount of levity to keep everything from getting too serious.

There you go, Mom…