I was sitting next to a highly respected fellow in the community this Sunday, in fact a nationally known speaker, and was talking to him about my recent re-nuptials. He’s an amazing guy with an equally (or, perhaps, surpassingly) amazing wife. They stop by every week after church to have breakfast and a morning cocktail at the place my friends and I also call church. We had befriended them a couple of years ago, and they love to come in and give us heck. In fact, this week his deacon pulled him aside before real church to inform him that the homily would be short that week, so he would be early to his other church. Even the deacon is in on the joke.
Twenty years ago, I was sitting in my work truck with the future Mrs C. I was in the middle of my landscape route. We were having a snack and discussing the weather and the future of life. To her right, on the sill of the open passenger’s window, another party joined the conversation. A wild bird came out of nowhere, landing inches from my companion’s face. The little bugger begin to chatter at her incessantly as if the barn were on fire.
They sat there and had a conversation for a good ten minutes while I watched.
It was the first time I could remember thinking that I was dating Mary Poppins.
As the years went by this would happen again. Other window sills, other birds. Children would rush down aisles at grocery stores to give her big hugs. Children we did not know. Dogs would break from their leashes to come see her; insects would battle pane glass to get her attention. Innocent things loved her.
Especially bees. Bees will shake heaven and earth to find her location, beyond all others. I feel sorry for bees. She hates bees.
About a year ago I was opening the back door to my old house and was surprised by a presence. The largest, fiercest-looking black dog was standing in the middle of my backyard staring at me and my two golden retrievers. I couldn’t tell you this dog’s breed, but it looked as if someone had crossed a bear with a brontosaurus. I quickly shooed my boys back into the house, scared for their safety, and went to wake Mary Poppins, scared for mine. Mary Poppins helped me lure this colossal fiend through the gate (which I had opened for this endeavor) and into the freedom of the front yard.
We called animal control to help corral this gargantuan creature but it was too late. It had already seen her.
Moments later, “Dugle” was at our front door. He was whining to come in. The spell was cast. We went out front, risking life and limb we assumed, to befriend this precious beast and we found a way to return it to its owner. Just another day in a Disney movie for me.
So I don’t know why I was so surprised by the 9” tortoise I found in my backyard yesterday. Or why I was so surprised when I informed Mary Poppins of it and she told me (by phone) to fetch a container. Or why it was so alarming that it vanished by the time I returned, as quickly as it had so suddenly appeared.
“Dear,” Mrs C said, when she arrived home later, “It’s not like we live in the middle of a block where large dogs can leap down from the neighbor’s driveway into our backyard. Nature has to seek another way to find me.”
The turtle, we’ll call her Olivia for now, shimmied under the fence from the pond to find her, but found me instead. Disappointed, it shimmied quickly home and told the others about the time it almost met the queen of them all.
Have a good day, my friends. Find magic in everything you see. 🙂
Today, the most important person in the world has a birthday.
Now, you may not agree with who the most important person in the world is, and that’s okay. We can agree to disagree on that. Some of you might argue that it’s a mom or a dad, some other significant person in your life currently, or even yourself. You can make a great case to me that the most important person in our lives is ourselves. I would listen.
But not today.
Today, the most important person in the world, to me, is having a birthday.
I won’t reveal her exact age; that’s not a thing to do. However, there is a hint hidden somewhere in my ode to her a year ago, if you care to look. I said nice things about her then, too. She’s easy to say nice things about.
This weekend we took her out. When I say we I mean our friends and I. We took her to her favorite place in town, Kobe Seafood and Steakhouse, where a very entertaining pair of chefs prepared food for us Teppanyaki-style. We drank sake and beer and cheered loud enough for the whole staff to join us in celebration. It was fun. She was thrilled.
Afterwards, the entire contingent of us, nearing 30 in total, returned to our home on the west side of Redding and drank more beer, spirits, and sake. We cut the cake and everyone made kind of a big deal of her. Like she was the most important person in the world. She is. To me, she is.
My wife, Suzie, celebrates her birthday today. To tell you how much she means to me would be a lengthy novel in and of itself. To tell you how much I cherish her love and company would be more than mere words can say. Even for a typically loquacious guy like me, there aren’t enough words. I can tell you that after 20 years of marriage I’m happy to renew our vows this year. I’ll find some words to say then and, if I can’t find enough of them, I’ll make more up. She’s worth all that.
And today is her birthday.
I’ll take a second in this spot to thank everyone who has reached out to her already, everyone who spent time with her this weekend. Each and every one of you made her feel like she was on top of the world. You made me proud to call you friends, to call you family.
And then I’ll return my attention to her. It’s her day.
We met very young and have adored each other for decades. She has been a part of every critical moment of my adult life. I have been there for every triumph and tragedy in hers. We have shared ideas about the world, about life, about the people we know now and knew then. We have stumbled and caught each other. Nobody in the world knows me better. Not even me.
So I wanted to indulge upon readers today and wish a very happy birthday to the most important person in my life, my beautiful wife. Today she turns the page on a chapter behind her, and opens another to the great adventures ahead. No one can know what tomorrow brings, but I know that whatever she faces – be it triumph or tragedy – she faces it with me.
Happy Birthday, my love. Happy Birthday, dear Suzie.
You are the most important person in my life. And you make this man the happiest one alive. On your day you are my gift.
I love you. Times infinity.
St Patrick’s Day
St Patrick’s Day is a religious holiday. It celebrates the life of Saint Patrick, who is credited with converting the bulk of Ireland to Christianity some time in the 400s AD. March 17th is believed to be the day the patron saint of Ireland died.
Before Saint Patrick began his holy crusade on the Emerald Isle, the denizens of the land were pagans, worshiping many gods. They loved their stories of Danu the Mother Goddess, Lugh of the Long Arm, their heroic son Cuchulainn, and the king of demon baddies Balor. The stories of Irish mythology are still sacred to the people of Ireland, but as literature now not religion.
Not since the Apostle of Ireland came and banished all the snakes. Not since the Patron Saint of the Emerald Isle placed his walking stick into the ground a grew a tree. Not since Saint Patrick made the leaves of the shamrock a symbol of the Holy Trinity. Not since then.
And here you thought today was all about green beer. 😉
I celebrated St Patrick’s Day last weekend, and will sit the night out. I have several reasons for doing so, that I will discuss eventually. For now, I want to talk more about the former than the latter.
Friends and I went to Reno for the Leprechaun Crawl, an annual event in the Biggest Little City. It includes thousands of emerald-clad revelers celebrating the conversion of Ireland to monotheism from polytheism in the 5th century.
Just kidding. It’s just to get drunk. None of us knew about the Christianity thing until about six paragraphs ago.
As I’ve mentioned before, we go to 2 or 3 of these Reno pub crawls a year. I’ve attended the Irish one more than any other (I believe this was my 4th). You don’t know fun until you’ve had 30 or 40 brightly-clad adults wandering the halls and streets of Reno, inebriated and making memories together. And we remember every damn moment, because we have pictures.
We have more than once been the cover photo advertisement for the next year’s event. Easy to see why. Go green or go home, I always say.
As for why I don’t plan to go out tonight, well … I did it pretty heavy last week for one; I’m good. The night of St Patty’s is always a terrible night to be out and about, anyway, even if you just want to have a green beer or two and safely make your way home. Plus, hey, I gotta work in the morning.
Also, I brought home a bug.
I tend to catch 1 or 2 cold bugs a year. This is my third one of this wintry season. Nothing too serious, mind you. These are the types that get in your head and make you feel bad enough to complain, but not bad enough to skip work.
This particular one is unusual. It started the second day back from Reno with a terrible sore throat in the morning. Like something lodged in it. I first thought I experienced some form of acid reflux in my sleep, but I don’t think that now. My throat has been sore for four days … REAL sore … but no other symptoms have emerged. Zero. No stuffed head. No cough. No fever. I can even swallow just fine. Just really, really sore.
Coffee helps to soothe it in the morning. Beer helps to soothe it at night.
I’m not a real smart sick guy.
But one unusual attribute of my recent viral bouts is I tend to catch them whenever I leave town. It appears I am completely immune to local pathogens but have zero resistance to those of other counties.
One friend told me that partying all night lowers my immune system for a time and thus allows bacterium to more easily take control. Apparently he thinks I party all night every time I leave town. Hmph. He’s no doctor or sociologist, what does he know? 😎
12 Years and Running, and 20 Years this Year
The rest of my time lately, when I’m not working or partying with pathogens, has been spent delving deep into the offseason of the Los Angeles Rams. I took a gig to write about them a while back and I try to publish one article a week about their progress. I’m a huge fan, as you know, of the game of football and of the Rams specifically. Studying the offseason is nothing new to me. Mock rosters and mock drafts are my passion, not my job. Especially the last twelve years.
Because for the last twelve years the Rams have been better in the offseason than during actual play.
It’s hard to love a team that breaks your heart every year. It’s hard to fall short of the playoffs a dozen consecutive times. I mean, that’s really hard to do when you think about it. No matter who you are if you went to a bar and randomly hit on 12 different women the law of averages says you’ll take at least one of them home, right? If you picked 12 fallen plums off the ground, at least one of them will be a good one, right? If I go out of town 12 times next year, at least one time I’ll come back without a virus, right?
Maybe not. I’m about as lucky as the Rams sometimes.
Luckily I don’t eat plums off the ground or pick up women. I got this gal.
20 years this summer. I’m the luckiest man alive.
Happy St Patty’s Day, everyone. Whether you’re in it for Jesus, in it for Dagda, or just in it for green beer, be safe, be happy, and be you.
You’re luckier than you think. ☘️
I’m getting married this summer.
Not like, “again,” like the first one didn’t work out so I’m trying another one. Not like “again” like I’ve done it a hundred times before, like “again” like I’m marrying the best person I’ve ever known all over again.
The good kind of again.
On July 19th, 1997, the lady and I stole away to Vegas with a few close friends and family members and swore in front of an officiant that we would love each other forever. We exchanged rings, exchanged kisses, took pictures and saved the video. I think we still have the video, somewhere. We just don’t have a VCR.
That’s for the best, I looked hideously nervous in the video and it embarrasses me to watch.
But the missus – though she wasn’t quite that yet – looked amazing. If you ever get a chance to watch it, you should, to see her and to hear her mom babbling off camera through the whole thing. That part is funny. Just remember what I said about me; you’ve never seen me quite like that.
I was so nervous in the hours before the ceremony that my soon-to-be betrothed demanded that I head downstairs, play blackjack, and drink some beer before we go on stage. She knew me that well. Told ya she was the best person I’ve ever known.
I got lucky. I found my soul one early. It was her. I got lucky because she feels she’s lucky, too. When you get it right the first time, and when you hang in there with each other through all of life’s changes, it’s really something special. She’s really something special.
That was 20 years ago this year. We had meant to renew our vows on our 10th anniversary, and even toyed with the idea around 15, but things just never came together. Whether it was money, new work schedules, or me being an occasional ass I don’t recall, but it didn’t happen then.
It’s happening now.
On July 22nd, 2017, Mr and Mrs C will reaffirm their bond in the city where it all began, near the chapel where it all began, with the promise to begin again. I can’t wait. She’s worth it.
Everyone is welcome.
Please be aware that if you are there I might not even notice. My eyes will be on her. My soul one.
There are more than a thousand Mondays in twenty years. More than a thousand. I say that because early on in our courtship we used to say we made it (through the wild weekend) to another Monday. It seemed when we were young that the people we knew were always breaking up on the weekends, but we would always marvel that we made it to another Monday. Now we say that we love each other times infinity, plus a Monday.
Forever and a day. A specific day, at that.
I hope you’ll join us in Vegas. I hope you’ll join us all year, at least, in celebrating our first two decades in matrimony. This summer we will vow for decades more. A lot of things can go wrong in this crazy journey of life, so it’s nice to pay heed to the things that went right. Just right.
I got it right, the first time. I’m a lucky guy.
So I’m getting married.
Our lives get so complicted. The world is all expectations and it is easy in the hustle and bustle to lose ourselves, to become something other than genuine. I have, in many times past, lost myself to the distractions of life, lost my way – if I ever truly had one – and wandered far afield of my path. One thing has always brought me back.
Today is April 17, 2016, and the person that means more to me than any in this world is turning 41.
To celebrate, me and this amazing group of people we are somehow lucky enough to call our friends threw her a surprise party. We stunned her. She thought for all the world that she was going to the party of another friend. Whenever she suspected, I deflected. “It’s not always about you, baby, we have to be there for others. We’ll make it up to you after.” I am the devil.
But it worked.
For the last twenty-some-odd years of my life there has been a constant, this thing called love that saves me and breaks me in equal and powerful measures; this woman that humbles me and empowers me like no force on Earth. I cannot imagine a single step in my journey without her.
If I had to do it all again I would change almost nothing, except somehow find a way to be a better man to my wife. I would remember more things that I had forgotten, concede more victories that I have won, create more moments of sheer exhilaration like the one I saw last night on her face, when she saw the truth. I would never miss an opportunity to make her feel unique. To make her feel cherished.
The beauty of life is that it goes on. All the promises we never kept can be made again. All the love we left unattended can be regarded going forth. I vow to do that very thing, to make me worthy of the love she gives. I truly hope that I am.
Happy Birthday, Mrs C. Happy Birthday, love of my life. Today I am your servant, and I am your servant for every day that comes.
Thank you, most of all, for love.