Greatest Hits List

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…

Rolling Trumpstones

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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).

Jason and an Awegernaught

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.

A List Post

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…)

5-17-18

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…

Coaching Volleyball

Being a joke is not something that I handle very well. That being said, I have no idea why I would sign on to coach a sport that I have limited tactical understanding of. That sport is volleyball and I am coaching my school’s junior varsity for the first time. It’s also the first time I’ve ever coached girls. It’s been a crazy few weeks, but I’m starting to find my groove as I have learned a couple of things about volleyball and coaching in general.

1. Sports are sports and once you understand a few basic principles for each sport, there are only complications. The KISS principle works for coaching as well as it does for most of life. For volleyball, “read, move, and hit the ball into the air.” Volleyball Einsteins might question my elementary approach to the game, but since I don’t know what I don’t know, I must rely on keeping the game simple. I want the girls to become better players and that is more about improving their self-efficacy (the belief that they can create success) than it is about some crazy formation that has the team running all over the court and me wondering if they are in the right rotation.

We practice skills much more than we do strategy, although, I do have a bit of a basketball background, and I see zone defense principles as being applicable to our strategy. In hoops, a zone defense allows a player to guard a space. Different zones take different spaces away from an offensive team, but a player should always be ready to move wherever they are most needed. Volleyball is no different, players must cover an area. The trick is getting them into the area and the less offensive movement that is inflicted on a team, the less they have to worry about the transition from offense to defense.

I don’t know, I’m just saying…

2. Players have to play. My job is to prepare the students with the skills to be successful and give them a plan that fosters their success. Ultimately, though, the game is up to them. My goal as a volleyball coach is continuing to get the girls to believe that they can make the necessary plays. I really want to win, but a wise fellow told me that his experience with girls volleyball was that it was more about the experience than the winning and losing. His advice allowed me to continue to believe that keeping our practices simple is important. We spend very little time powering through skills or strategies that are not working. Instead, I have short periods of time that allow the girls to be mentally focused, but the drills stop before boredom sets in and any mentally drift allows for physical errors that might negatively affect their confidence.

Again, I want to focus on their believing that they are creating success.

3. Hustle is as hustlers do…I apologize for the cheap Forrest Gump rip-off, but every sport is based on hustle. Hustle is moving at the speed that is appropriate for the play. Being on time is the most important thing an athlete can do. It’s more than just being to practice on time. It’s getting to the ready position on time, contacting the ball at the right time, cheering on a teammate at the right time. Being on time is what hustle is. I joke with a colleague that I’m trying to turn my volleyball team into a pickup basketball team. We are trying to scramble to spots, get our feet into solid position, and sending the ball to a spot where the next hitter can make a play (unless it’s the third ball, duh, as we don’t want the other team to hit it). I chose to talk about playground basketball because it’s a game of hustle, hustlers win and winners get to keep playing. Not only that because often playground basketball teams are made on the fly and a player better know how to play any position and guard every spot. The general understanding of the game is a real plus for any player wanting a long run on a blacktop.

Maybe I’m overstretching my coaching analogy or just acting from ignorance, but over the last two weeks, the girls are starting to move more. We are starting to expect players to get to spots and even starting skills work 30-minutes before the “real” practice starts. I “freaking” love that.

These are a few thoughts from a guy who has little volleyball coaching experience, but this I know, self-efficacy is an important component of success. I mean, I wrote a dissertation on self-efficacy… Finding what works for the talent that a coach has is way more important than the tactical knowledge that a coach has. The relationship that the coach has with his/her players is probably more important than that. Meshing all of that together into a simple plan that promotes success is the lofty goal for getting a team to reach its potential. I think the girls on our team are on the right track and I believe that my continued understanding of volleyball can only help them get better as long as the new knowledge doesn’t create coaching clutter.

Simple…

We won our second match today. We’ve dropped four or five, so our record is not what some would consider successful. Yet we are sticking together and working hard in practice. We are getting more competitive in the games we lose and getting more consistent with our hustle so that we play better in most points. What more could I ask for? The girls are creating an atmosphere that makes me want to come back each day. It’s been fun so far and even though tomorrow is an off day at school, we will be working on our footwork and maybe even housing some Munchkins…

Marathon Journal: 8-19-17

img_1433There are things that we commit to and regret. Maybe it’s a party in the neighborhood. Could it be trying to publish a novel? What about running a marathon? Well, I’m all in for all three, plenty of commitments and a wealth of regret to go around. About a year ago, I set my sights on running a marathon in my fiftieth year. I started out training well for an old guy who had let fitness kind of get away. It’s a funny thing about getting older, some aspects of life get harder. Running has never been the easiest thing for me, but I have managed to finish ten marathons and one ultra. None were particularly fast and I thought those days were over. Then, I had some blood work, got some numbers I never thought I’d have, and the idea of running a marathon was reborn.

Let me say my health is fine. My numbers were associated with too big a gut and a lifestyle that was slipping into that barley, hops, and mash routine. I also found little time to exercise because I began coaching. The only real time to go for a run was in the morning before school and that is great until winter. Even driving over to the YMCA is tougher because it’s so much easier to just sleep. After all, how important is it to run anyway? I noticed my clothes were getting bigger, my ties looser, and my attitude about me becoming worse. I decided that I would run a marathon at my YMCA.

There is a track at the Y and it says 16-laps per mile. That’s 419.2 laps for a marathon. Funny, I’m just realizing the .2, which is a stupid joke people who run marathons like to throw around, “Twenty-six is easy, it’s the .2 that’s hard.” I told you, stupid because I don’t think there is anything easy about going out for twenty-six miles and change. In all the races I did, there were moments of pain, moments of doubt, serious questioning of my sanity, and the realization that I had not trained enough. I always got hurt or justified that I could make up the miles on another day. My times in all the other races probably reflect my lack of commitment to following a training program to the letter of the law.

Whatever…

Besides the coaching, life tended to get in my way. Fifty has been much more difficult than forty. I have wrestled with bulging weight, too much alcohol, an unhealthy diet, and a level of confidence that’s more New Orleans than Mount Everest. I would not say that any of the issues were serious problems, but in my final analysis, each has contributed to a pretty blah year. Once my baseball season ended, I began training again and I had a moment of clarity that sometimes comes from nowhere. I need to get my act together for many reasons, physical, mental, and social. Where did I turn for help? The internet of course. I began binging YouTube videos like they were peanut M&Ms. My go to was Chase Jarvis Live. He does a show where he asks leaders from a variety of areas about their techniques, attitudes, and processes around being creative. I’ve learned a great deal about perspective from the people on his show and they have had a serious effect on how I approach writing, but the moment was, “Why aren’t you putting their lessons to use in your daily life also?” There are too many things to get into with this blog post, but Tim Ferriss, Jason Silva, Steven Kotler, Jamie Wheal, and a host of others dropped nuggets of information on me that took me places my mind had not been in such a long time. I was learning about experimenting with different nutritional aspects on micro levels. I was re-introduced to “flow,” which I knew as “being in the zone.” I started making changes to my nutrition (intermittent fasting, vegetables, cutting carbs) and the weight began to drop (ten pounds in eight weeks). I also began thinking in ways that promoted an easier way of being. I found that when I was exercising or even just hanging out that I could easily calm an over chatty brain. I felt different, but I was still in the awkward-new-skill-way where everything had to be planned and nothing felt natural.

Then I had a couple of evenings that I’d like to forget. Nothing tragic or illegal, but I’ll simply say that in my evolving minimalist attitude, I had to ask myself, “What value does alcohol bring to my life?” Don’t get me wrong, a cold beer or a neat glass of whiskey is amazing, but my ideas of drinking had become too much about bonding. I could go on about how that was symbolic of how I was feeling in other areas of my life, but after my own foul balls with the bottle and hearing of my neighbor dropping into (and thankfully out of) a coma due to alcohol poisoning, I made the choice to give up drinking. Over the last six weeks, I haven’t be 100% dry, but I don’t go seeking a beer and I politely refuse when I’m offered one at a pool or party. Since mid July, I’ve had 8-beers. That’s a big difference from a “nightly pop or two.” It’s weird not drinking and I must say it’s hard. Not because I crave alcohol, but because it is such of an important part of socializing for so many people. Anyway, it’s not something I’m looking for and I feel mostly better because of the change.

So, did you run or not?…

I did. I ran the race today. Just me and the miles on the track. There were other people training. There were exercise classes below on the gym floor. None of them knew what I was doing. It was great. The only problem was that my training had been as weak as ever. Maybe even weaker. My long run should have been in the low twenties a few weeks ago. That was when I was wrestling with the decision to quit drinking, so the training was kind of eh then. In fact, last Saturday I ran ten miles, my longest since 2007. Today, the first ten miles were a breeze. At eleven, I could feel tightness in my legs. By thirteen, I had introduced a survival technique of walking and running (1 lap walking, 4 laps running). Fifteen was the wall. I felt like quitting and sticking with my plan to run the whole thing in September. I texted my daughter and a friend, they both sent positivity that kept me going. The last hour sucked as nearly every step was a push as to whether my quads were going to cramp or allow me to move freely.

Finally, after six-hours and five minutes, my worst time ever, I was done. I didn’t cry like I did after my first marathon. So far, I haven’t had to go down the stairs backward. I didn’t see any actors from The Wire like I did in Baltimore. What I did was beat back some personal demons and prove to myself that all the excuse making and reliance on unhealthy coping mechanisms was killing me. I ran for charity, raising a couple hundred bucks for the Y, but the payout to my psyche was just as important for me. I needed this and while some may suggest that this was not that big of a deal, it meant everything to me.

Everyone, go do something big for yourself…

D & Co

Back when I first moved to Williamsburg (VA not NY), my father was a policeman. Right around the time he started the job, William and Mary was hosting a concert of the renowned band, The Grateful Dead. Keep in mind that this was somewhere around 1974-75 and the love happy Sixties had given way to the reckless Seventies. As far as my father was concerned, The Grateful Dead were the most degenerate dudes around. He still tells a story about that Jerry guy that I’ll let rest with Mr. Garcia and allow to linger in my father’s mind. Because of my father’s visceral feelings about the haze-inducing jam band, I was forced to learn about the Dead on the sly. I knew the popular songs, but as far as being a Dead Head, I was nothing close. I was a casual fan.

I don’t remember the band ever playing William and Mary again, but they made their way to Hampton from time to time. For some reason, I never went. Let’s call it respect for my father. Maybe it was fear, but I never did make it to a concert. Years passed, I did what I thought grown ups did…got married… and then did what about fifty percent of grown-ups do, got divorced. I spent a few years solo and capped it off with a jaunt to Bonnaroo. Rat Dog was playing with Bob Weir and I bailed on that show for some other side stage band. I’m not sure why I blew that show-off, but by then, I had started to appreciate the Dead more. Many of the people that I ran around with in those single years were versed in the ways of the band and I started to take an interest actually paying attention to the Grateful Dead.

My son and daughter developed an interest in the Dead and I became more interested in the band at my kids’ insistence. I’m still no expert in the Dead’s history, but I won a gentleman’s wager with my brother in law about the past memberships in other bands of Bob Weir. Still, though, I had never seen the band in person. Not with Jerry Garcia, not with Bruce Hornsby, and certainly not with John Mayer.

That all changed this past Sunday… Sorry, Dad… I had a mostly good time.

First, a little background. Since I teach and have summer’s off, each summer with my step children has had a theme. Painting, reading, math, naps, the Y, and camp have all been themes of our summers. They are a little older now, so I made my own theme this summer and I called it the Phish summer. While working on a school project last week, the first day of summer vacation, I put Phish on Pandora and got lost in the music. While driving, Jam Nation was on the radio and Phish helped me pass the miles. The summer of Phish and by proximity in terms of musical flavor, the Grateful Dead, was born.

My kids had been holding tickets for the show in Camden for many weeks. On Sunday morning, I decided to buy a ticket last minute and then surprise them at the BB&T. Everything went according to plan, although parking was a bit of a hassle. Twenty-seven dollars for a cheeseburger and beer is an abomination…thanks, GUY, you should rethink your branding and gouging strategy. Love your TV show…

The night was perfect, not hot, not humid, sunny and breezy. There was a weirdness about being at the show, but I was totally open to the night. People were walking around with their big blankets, their super expensive margaritas, and an impatience for some whacky tobacky that I’m pretty sure most had already taken in. We got settled on the main vertical path on the lawn which looked like a fairway on the PGA where they let the spectators cross, no grass. Finally, the show started and I was blown away.

An older guy than me jumped to his feet, hit the dirt track, and began some sort of Grateful Dead inspired Tai Chi. He moved through the different movements in time with the music and on several occasions nearly morphed into a break dancer in tie dye. He was in a trance and stole all of the attention of those of us sitting under the blue #3 as opposed to the BIG #3 on the wall. The amazing thing about this guy was that he captivated the crowd more that than tattooed blondie next to him. Her curvaceous sway held no dominion over the scintillating blur that was the Dali dancer. He foretold of the weirdness that would come.

I made a decision that was based on large part finances and hopefully, a larger part, maturity, that I was going to enjoy this show in the comforts of sobriety. The notes were crisper, the songs fresh, John Mayer was awesome, and I was able to take in the freak show that was spinning around me with a fertile infatuation. I became so involved in what was happening that I could feel the music and watch everything going on in my little Dead world with razor sharp precision. There was one woman who was bitching the whole time. There was one guy who was the drug dealer for his group. There were easily fifteen bull ring nose piercings, countless shoes without a match, and one father who was getting ready to be dragged back into reality.

The details of family drama don’t amount to anything good when they are spilled in a modest blog, but let’s just say that I used my belief in independence and people taking charge of themselves to make the greatest dad proclamation ever, “I don’t give a %#!k, you guys figure it out.” As adults, I counted on my children to solve their problem before the intermission was over. I had arrived alone and thought that since I live in the opposite direction of my children, that I would be going home alone as well. More on that later, but I was left to solve the problem due to my stately presence, I suppose, and just as the sun when down, the sky lit up.

Within the crowd, it was almost as if a swarm of lightning bugs had taken flight. I never knew so many people had prescriptions to medicinal marijuana, but for some strange reason, they were all convalescing on the lawn under that relaxing tunes of The Grateful Dead. The lady in front of me who had been herking and jerking through spasms remembered from her days at Studio 54 offered me a hit on her joint. I passed, not my thing. The drug dealer guy partook and then offered her some of his. It looked to be more than just organic and she wisely went Nancy Reagan and said, “No.”

About this time, the Dead went into a drum thing. There are songs that will stop me and have me doing nothing. Star Witness by Neko Case and Brother’s in Arms by Dire Straits are a couple. During the drum thing, I totally forgot where I was. Awe is about all I can say. There was no more watching the mind-altered zombies walking around. I couldn’t hear the people on their phones yelling, “I can’t see you!” As Russ Coale said in True Detective, “I was mainlining truths from the universe.” I’m not kidding, everything kind of stopped for me in the moment. I was glad to be there, to have been abject in the sibling drama, to be seeing the Dead for the first time without any guilt for betraying my father.

Melodramatic? Perhaps. That was my moment, though. The over priced ticket, the bloodsucking parking, the cardboard burger with image-busting impact, and even the family drama went away in that ten or fifteen minutes. We left soon after, to beat the traffic. Enlightened, I noticed a group of people outside the fence dancing. It was something right out of a Kubrick film, sort scary, sort of pity-inducing, but overall really cool. These folks came for the music, not the show, not the wallet-draining treats, just the music. Thinking of them, and really the whole night, made the drive to take my son home cool. I didn’t leave my daughter there. She left with her friend at the intermission. (Drama inducing…)

In fact, the calm allowed me to rationally handle traffic on I-76. It gave me the courage to say, “I don’t think so” when the GPS tried to send me back to the I-76 quagmire. Nearly three hours after leaving Camden, I was home. Normally, it would have taken me about fifty minutes to get home, but the construction and jaunt to Amish country tacked on a few extra minutes. I never knew those guys drove in the dark. So many reflectors… In the wee hours, my dog and I settled in on the couch and that was it for my first (and probably only) Dead and Company show.

I know I’m not as experienced as some, but this did everything nature needed it to do for me.

Marathon Journal: 6/10/17

The time sure has passed on this marathon training program. In fact, the projected date for this ludicrous endeavor has long passed.

I didn’t run the marathon.

Boo, you suck, you asked for donations and never did the race, you suck, boo!!!

Well, all of that is mostly true (I sound like a president of something…). Here’s the story, it’s not sad, but it is true.

Life got in the way.

Back in February when I last posted, basketball season was ending and I was sort of geared up for the final push to the “Just Me” marathon (400 and something laps on the track at my local YMCA). For a couple of weeks after the season ended, I basked in the free time and made use of the afternoons to run. Then one day I had a minor meltdown where the arrogance of wisdom met head on with the ignorance of adolescence. On that day, I barked at some baseball players in my school about attitude, commitment, and effort. From my lofty perch of life’s experience, I laughed at their absolute belief in their lack of class effort and how that translated to their prediction for the upcoming season. Early that evening, I went for a run on the track. Coincidently, the baseball team came out to practice on the football field as the snow had melted there.

Hang with me…

I’ve learned over the years to be careful about certain questions from my bosses. The most alarm sound of them all is, “Hey, I’ve got a question for you?” The day after my meltdown and track encounter, the athletic director was in my office posing that very question. I answered, “Uh-oh, that didn’t sound good.” We laughed and he proceeded to ask if I would like to coach BASEBALL. One of the coaches was quitting and the team needed someone to “ride the bus.” After talking to my real boss, Mrs. H., I said, “yes,” and so would begin my quick descent into baseball mode. Fortunately, I ended up doing more than riding the bus and the players and I saw each other in a different light. The season ended up great from that standpoint, but not so successful with the record.

During the basketball season, I sort of managed to keep my running going. Baseball killed that. I thought baseball was so much harder to coach than basketball. I don’t know if it was the time, the wind, the sun, or the standing, but I was dog tired after practice and games. My running stopped and here I am nearly four months passed my last training post. During that time, I lost my endurance, gained seven pounds, discovered Miller High Life (I had the time and they had the beer…), and started to feel really sluggish. All the while, I kept thinking that I needed to run this “race” because I said that I would.

It’s funny how little things can spur some motivation. 231 on the scale is an attention getter. An old blogger resurfacing with those cool Monday posts is another. YouTube can help. Even my AD brought a bit of motivation to my lethargy. So here’s how my “resurrection” began. I was working my way through YouTube. I did Brilliant Ideas and Chase Jarvis. I guess the folks at YouTube thought I would be interested in Bullet Journaling because they kept sending me videos about BOJOs. For kicks and giggles, I watched one and thought it was pretty cool. A couple of days later, I was drawing in a journal and trying to figure out how to use it to make the lifestyle changes that needed to be made. In the journal, I’m trying to focus on creating enjoyment, power, and endurance. The things that I put in my journal should be promoting those ideals. Out of that journal, I began getting better at scheduling my workouts. Even so, I’ve been hit or miss about the running.

Because it hurts, man…

The AD came to me with another proposition, volleyball? I signed on to be an assistant coach and with baseball over, I went to my first open gym. It was awesome! My fear, though, is that this is just something else to jam up my exercise schedule. Back to the BOJO and a few scribbles here and there made the three lifestyle priorities work together. The exercise began to ramp up…

Then YouTube dropped another vegetable on my plate, “Intermittent Fasting.” The idea is that there are big chunks of time where a person fasts and an eating window where the person eats normally. Today is my first day. I’ve committed myself to a month of at least fourteen-hour fasting. Although, I’m waiting until Monday to really start, so I can truly enjoy breakfast with my daughter tomorrow. However, today I rocked out a sixteen hour fast and can see the benefits to doing so. I survived the hunger pangs and never felt tired, even with a workout in the middle of the hunger alarms.

Okay, that gets me to today. I decided to hit the Y and lift weights. That turned into lifting weights and then getting on the track for an hour. Truth be told, I ran one lap and then walked one lap. The intensity was lacking, but I was more interested in seeing if I could stick to a goal. The 1:1 gave me the opportunity to get my legs going without the horrible feeling of over doing it. I got it done despite being asked about my ex-wife (twelve years people…), no music of my own, and the over enthusiastic cueing from the group exercise teacher down on the basketball court. That’s really the time when it sucks to be a visual learner. “Shhh, I’ve got it, bend my knees…”

I like to think that I’m motivated on my own. I guess YouTube, BOJOs, and my athletic director suggest that I am influenced by extrinsic factors, too. I have to give a welcome back to an amazing poet and all around good person from coppercranes.worpress.com. It’s hard to know why things make an influence on you, but I can say about “Ms. Crane’s” work that it is always thought provoking and moving. Better yet, she’s an encourager and while I only know her through the blogging world, I’m glad to have come across her site and wisdom.

So, now it all comes together. If it were a simple math equation, it might look like this: YouTube+BOJO+Volleyball+good poetry+frustration over lethargy=back to training, baby!

More to come!

An Election Thought

At this point, writing about the 2016 election seems trivial. All that can be said is that Americans have more than a few issues. It seems that the motivation of those aspiring to political office is to treat their duty as a personal referendum or as some sort of fantasy game that need only be reset to start over. Their failure to see the larger impact of their decisions has pushed people apart in ways that allow partisanship to exclude common sense.

But this national fiasco is far greater than the recently passed reality television show election and it rests firmly with the limited thinking that the American public bestows on its responsibility to participate in the election process. We have become less diverse ideologically which makes it easy for the politicians to obstruct, think only of their particular plank, or act as puppets for the money pit bosses that pull their strings. Since the public cannot agree on common decencies for all people, we are easily segregated into target groups and manipulated by whatever special interest the politicians feed off.

I have no allegiance to either in the two-party system and while I am disappointed in the final outcome of our latest election, I can’t say that I am surprised. While neither candidate ever convinced me that he/she stood for anything other than bashing the other candidate, I ultimately hoped my vote would help improve the conditions of our state and local representation. Believing in either presidential candidate was a waste of my time, both were equally insulting. Certainly one was common in ways that echoed some of history’s worst sounds. For me, the other was equally insulting in a more professional way. Still, I found her party to be more aligned with issues I felt important. Hopefully, the “pivot” will happen and the new guy will believe in Americans not in whatever he ran on.

Ah, whatever. The system is amok because our people are amok. Decency has left our attitudes and we seem to not value equality. It’s a shame because we have so much potential.

But only if we learn to compromise and understand we are all in this thing together…

Cliche, I know…