One Foot In Front of the Other

I’ve been away from the keyboard for a couple of weeks, so the music of language is a little blurred today. I woke up with a hankering to get back into the swing of writing, but quickly had no ideas. So I poured coffee, opened a blank page, and just started to compose. Like Kris Kringle said to the old Winter Warlock you just put one foot in front of the other and soon you’ll be walking across the floor. I’ll put one word in front of another today and see what comes out.

So far, I’ve talked about Kris Kringle. That’s a blog first.

This week the Democratic National Convention is in full swing. Last week it was the RNC’s turn but I was out of town on a whirlwind family reunion tour. I saw none of it. I haven’t really watched any of the DNC this week, either, except for catching a replay of FLOTUS’ speech earlier in the week and a few minutes of POTUS last night. They both made great speeches. I’ve been a fan of Mr and Mrs Obama since the beginning, and I think Barack is one of the great orators of our time. It’s just fun to watch him talk.

I don’t care what anyone else thinks, I think Barack Obama has done a worthwhile job in the toughest seat in the land, following the worst president I can remember. I voted for the last four presidential victors.

But when it comes to the conventions I didn’t have a lot of desire to watch them. I’ve watched so many of them over the years that I can honestly say that what I’ve learned from watching conventions is that you learn absolutely nothing from watching conventions.

It’s a week-long sales pitch.

The R-one is great for people who lean to the right, the D-one is great for those who lean to the left. And that’s all you get in America, a two-dimensional image. 90% of the country thinks you’re either with them (a Republican/Democrat) or against them. It’s bizarrely shallow.

I lean farther to the left than any of them, and sharply down. I exist more on a grid, I guess. Even that is too confining, though. I think we’re more complex than that. I detest labels.

The latest polls show that Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton – the two least-liked candidates in history – are running pretty neck and neck, at somewhere around 45% each. That means, to me, that 90% of America is wrong. Can I write in Kris Kringle?


Last week, like I said, I was on a whirlwind family reunion tour and had a great time down in Hollister, then in Lake Don Pedro, and back into the city of Oakley for a wedding, in which I was the best man. I gave a speech. My first ever. I felt awkward but was told I did well. Was I loud enough? I walked away wanting to give more of them. I want to stand in front of people and talk. Maybe I’ll run for office.

In the meantime, once I’m settled purposefully in at the new pad, I’m going to jump online and put in some proposals to some writing sites I’ve found. I could make a living doing this, or at least feel pushed to do it more. It’s the best thing I do all week, when I’m not running whirlwind reunion tours, making wedding speeches, bashing dumb candidates, or drinking beer on Sunday mornings with pals. I want to do this every day.

Well, every day except Sunday, Monday, Thursday and occasionally Saturday in the Fall. Football is back in just 42 days and that’s going to require a great amount of my energy and concentration. While tracking fantasy stats, bashing dumb coaches, yelling expletives at the big screen and drinking beer on Sunday mornings with pals (some actions are perpetual), how will I write?

One word at a time, I suppose. One foot in front of the other.

 

If you want to change your direction,

If your time of life is at hand,

Well, don’t be the rule, be the exception,

A good way to start is to stand.

 

Kris Kringle nailed it.

Thanks for listening.

Sorry to ramble.

Sometimes you just have to let things write themselves. 😉

I Know We’re All Excited Cuz We’re Reunited (Hey, Hey)

Every couple of years, or sooner, my family holds a week-long reunion. My oldest brother, who lives in Mississippi, comes out to spend some time with his 6 younger siblings (of which I am the youngest) and we all make a big deal of it out here in California. He’s a cheery guy, can drink like a fish, and he knows a million jokes; you’d like him. He’s also pretty competitive when it comes to party games, and I’m pretty sure we’ve named the horseshoe tournament, the washers tournament, the cornhole tournament, and the fire pit after him. His name is Robert, for the record.

So when he comes out, it’s on. This weekend, it’s on.

I’m told he’s arriving on Friday, so the party begins tomorrow night. I’ll arrive on Sunday and be there until the following Saturday. This year we’re squeezing a wedding in, but more on that later.

The first reunion was in 1999 and I think all told we’ve had 11 or 12 of them since then. One year it was on a boat, down in Mexico, but I missed that one. Several years it was in Anderson or Cottonwood, where my second oldest brother owned property at the time. You’d like him, as well. His subtle wit is second to none and his heart is as big as a house. He has a cool red car, too.

Really, you’d like all the siblings. They’re damn amazing. Even if you don’t like me, you’d love them. Come sit by the fire this week, I’ll prove it.

This year we start in Hollister. My sister, the middle one, puts a fire pit in her front yard and we all pull up one by one, much to her suburban neighbors’ chagrin. They know what’s coming. Laughter until 2 or 3 in the morning, the sound of washers bouncing off game boards until midnight. A thousand empty Coors Light cans.

It’s not all bad; sometimes the neighbors will join us.

I say it starts in Hollister because, this year, we’re going to my brother’s new place near Lake Don Pedro a few days after. This is the youngest brother besides me. He used to beat me up when we were kids, a lot. You’d really like him. It’s his first house and I can’t wait to see it.

But we’ll only be there for a couple of days because, on Friday, we have a wedding in some place called “Oakley.” I told you I’d get back to that. My cousin, the son of our mother’s brother, is getting married at the end of the week. I’m his best man. Well, he’s better than me but I get to stand next to him while he makes his vows. You get the point.

Wait, do I have to make a speech?

::palms sweat::

Regardless, it has been 17 years since that first big reunion. Although the location seems to change, the turnout fluctuates, and – sometimes – we get into fist fights (I’ll explain that one another time), the one thing that never changes is this:

We always have the time of our lives, and can never wait to do it again.

I’m writing this while I’m doing laundry, ironing, and packing bags. In fact, I’m doing this instead of doing laundry, ironing, or packing bags, but I’ll get back to that in a minute. I had something to say. It’s reunion time again. I can’t wait to start. I’m going to get back to work, but in the meantime I’ll leave you with this:

reunion 99

That was 1999. The first reunion. It feels like yesterday and looks like a million years ago …

See you on Sunday, family of mine. ❤️

 

48 Revolutions

About a week ago I turned 48 years old, for the very first time. The country of my origin, the United States of America, turned 48 for exactly the 5th time less than a week later. When that thought occurred to me – in a public place, waiting to pay for beer and coffee – I smiled suddenly in the way that makes people around me nervous. I am passionate about sublimity and there’s something sublime about my journey coinciding so elegantly with the journey of a nation. How often are we in such perfect division with our origins?

So when I got home I left the beer and coffee in the car and did some research. I love to research as much as I love to write. Especially when a bat gets stuck in the belfry and can’t get out. I am driven by crazy obsession. Here’s what I learned:

The last time America turned 48, in 1968, the United States was embroiled in the conflict in Vietnam. The nation was entrenched in a culture war at home. It was a violent year for the civil rights movement. Martin Luther King and Robert Kennedy were shot dead that year, the latter mere weeks before I was born. Lyndon Johnson decided not to run for president, and Richard Nixon became president instead. Frank Borman, James Lovell and William Anders circled the moon, becoming the first human beings ever to leave Earth orbit. The Packers won the second Super Bowl. NBC cut off the end of a Raider game to show Heidi. Captain Kirk and Lieutenant Uhura shared TV’s first interracial kiss.

That was a really big deal at the time.

48 years before that, 48 years before I was born, Babe Ruth was traded to the Yankees. Women got the right to vote. Warren Harding became president. Alcohol was illegal. The National Football League was formed. The United States Postal Service outlawed sending children via mail. Really, that was a thing. The Roaring Twenties had just begun, and it was fun to be an American. Jazz thrived.

In 1872, 48 years earlier, Susan B. Anthony cast her vote and was arrested for it. 776 buildings were destroyed in the Great Boston Fire. America was reconstructing itself in the wake of a bloody civil war. Yellowstone became the world’s first National Park. A woman ran for president for the first time, 48 years before she could vote. Everyone rushed to Wyoming and Colorado for a faux diamond rush. Brigham Young was arrested for bigamy.

He had 25 wives.

The first time America turned 48, in 1824, John Quincy Adams was elected president by the Congress, despite Andrew Jackson winning the popular vote. This very young United States was still struggling with frontiers, battling both a proud native populace and the continuing intervention of European powers. The Monroe Doctrine gave voice to manifest destiny only one year before, cementing the idea of American exceptionalism. That idea gave birth to the American superiority complex that shaped not only domestic policy throughout the 19th Century, but international policies today.

The next time America turns 48 will be the year 2064. I’ll be 96. By some accounts we’ll be the 2nd smartest species on the planet by then, outgrown by our own creations. We’ll have microscopic computers in our bloodstream, keeping our vitals vital. Everything we want or need will be manufactured for free at home using nanotechnology. Borders will disappear, scarcity will vanish, poverty will be a footnote in history, and money will be a thing of the past. By some accounts.

By other accounts we’ll be living underground, chased there by our own failing biosphere or by bombs we couldn’t help but drop. Or we’ll be extinguished by those robots we create. Or maybe nothing at all will change. Chelsea’s kid Aidan will be 48 in 2064. Maybe he’ll be the Clinton to spread manifest destiny to the stars.

I think I’ll open a warm beer from the car and contemplate that thought for a while.

Cheers, America. Happy revolutions to you.