Sunday

Sunday Suburbanite Soldiers run not-so gallantly across the cracked and well-travelled grey plain. Avoiding the pot holes as best they can, while plunging head first into battle, waging war upon the storefronts and upon each other. Knocking down one enemy, both real or perceived, at a time. Due to a bout of weekend work, I sit on the same unbloodied field, watching them. Amazed.

First off, not only I’m working on a Sunday, but I’m doing so at the request of my Roman Catholic clients. I know they’re Catholic because it says so right in their organization’s name. Jaded, I think to myself that the “sabbath” rule must have went away the very second they realized that they could make cash even on the day of rest. Oh, if they would only hurry up and figure out that they could do very much the same by simply allowing gay marriage.

But that, is most definitely a topic for another day.

No, today we’re focusing on the shoppers. The mad, crazy, self-serving, gotta-have-it shoppers. SUV’s a blaze, burning trails down ancient, yet mighty highways. Highways that can still remember how they used to get at least one day of the week off. One day of the week pretty much to themselves, free from people and their SUV’s. SUV’s, wishing that they could at least once, see this “off-road” that they had heard so much about. Wishing they could actually be either put to the use that they were intended for, or simply put out of their misery altogether. They were designed for adventure. They know that. Just as they know that they are instead loaded everyday simply with the stuff of the mundane. The stuff that any average sized car could actually handle quite well.

But again, this too is a topic best left for another day.

For today is Sunday. And while, to a dwindling few that means giving thanks, to many others that means taking product. Taking product at discounted prices. Taking product at “BoGo.” Taking product unneeded, but priced right. So the sun, and the warmth, and the freedom of the day need to wait in line. Waiting behind the conditioned air of the mall, the false light of the fluorescent. Waiting behind the schedule of the trip, as the family “crams” itself into a vehicle that weeps over its own blatant misuse. Burning fumes that darken the otherwise bright day, all in an effort to get there “before all the good stuff is gone.” But invariably, the “good stuff” always is. And what is the “good stuff” anyway?

At last, the topic for today.

The good stuff, oddly, isn’t the stuff you find yourself pining for after an artificially inflated woman comes on the television and tells you to. The “good stuff” is usually, in fact, the stuff that is only considered a “necessity” by the average household. The kind of stuff that no artificially inflated women ever feels the need to sell you on. I know, I know, it does seem blasphemous – but trust me – the average household does not need Guitar Hero. Sorry, but it’s true. The average family also doesn’t need a television in each and every room. But you just try and tell the average family that. In fact, the average family doesn’t even need in excess of 200 sqft per each and every room. But again, the reaction you’ll likely receive upon informing the “average” family of this, may very well leave you with a headache and black ring about your eye. This is America after all. Every man for himself is what they say, and I’ll be godammend if I don’t get mine!

I am amazed that we live in a country where enough just never seems to be enough. Where comfort has been replaced by gain. Replaced? Hell, “decimated” is a better word. I’m not saying you shouldn’t provide and be provided for, I’m just saying that moderation goes a long way. I have a dear friend who’s house I’ve never seen in person, but one that I am jealous of, based upon pictures I’ve been able to view. They have a very nice house. One that is comfortable. One that is whole. The hard wood floors are aged to highlight the fact that they are NOT Pergo. The walls proudly hold up a sampling of rockabilly paraphernalia and a child’s art. The furniture is far more welcoming than standoffish, and the dog – who is constantly in trouble for some such thing – still seems very much at home in her surroundings. In all, it appears a very comfy place. One that is filled much more with love and personality than it is “stuff” and – well – even “more stuff”. In short, she’s figured out that enough is exactly that.

Now I can’t speak of my house, as I fear it’s just an unholy wreck (at least that’s what C calls it most often), but I would like to think that it too has more love within it than overpriced crap. And sans the boy’s ever-growing Lego collection, I think we might actually have a pretty good shot at just that. But I digress again.

So, where were we?

Oh yes.

Citizens, please! Take back your Sunday. Take back your peace. Take back your comfort. Stop running about, grabbing every last thing. It’s just all landfill in the final analysis any way. Stop missing out on the Sun for the Sale. On the clean, fresh air for the conditioned. Please. Relax. At least one day out of the week. After thirty thousand such days or so, you’ll be breathing your last. And your “stuff” will not leave with you. Your stuff won’t even care that you’ve gone. Only your memories will carry on, good and bad. Wouldn’t you rather leave more good ones, than ones of simply running across battlefields, cracked and grey?

Eulogy

When I was a child, I remember occasionally have night frights that would awaken me, rigid with fear. I would then creep into my parents room, edging my way up to the corner of their bed, while looking intently at my dad’s chest. I would do so until I could confirm that it was rising and lowering with breath, and only then, would I be able to shake the fright and return to my bed.

A little over a week ago, I was reminded of this as I found myself doing very much the same. I stared intently at dad’s chest. This time not so much to confirm that he was breathing, but rather, because I knew it would only be a matter of time until he was not.

My dad was almost there. Almost home. And now he’s gone. His was a very small and private service, but he is a man who needs to be known of. A man I want to share with you. I was blessed to be chosen to provide the eulogy for his service, and after the worst bout of writer’s block I have ever faced, here is what I finally decided to say:

My dad was not a great man. My dad was a Good Man. Great men quite often happen by mistake. Good men, always happen on purpose.

A while back, when dad went to Roswell for the initial biopsy of his cancer, I found myself having an afternoon tour of the facility with my mom. A tour that ended – not surprisingly – at the gift shop.

Now as you all know, dad is very much a “walk it off” type of fella – never one to show you when he’s in pain. But I still could tell on that day that he was scared. As a result, mom and I decided to buy him the only thing worth buying in the entire place – a novelty stuffed “Happy Pill.”

Just one little stuffed toy that, each and every time you squeezed it, would laugh manically for what seemed like minutes on end.

As many of you have told me, dad was a strong-willed man. A fighter. Some might even add “a bit of a grump”. As such, this Happy Pill was the sort of present that I thought would actually bug him after an initial guffaw, but instead, he took to it immediately. For whatever reason, in this one silly toy, he found a joy that visibly lifted him above the fray of whatever was going on at the time.

With its frantic giggle, he was able to envision the world as it could be. The world that he often told his grandchildren should be. A world that would result if, as he said while taping a video for Roswell Park “you did your best, and you’re leaving back hopefully some good memories.”

Over the course of his cancer experience, I was able to hear that maniacal squeal from time to time, and it always made my heart glad when I did. Not because of the thing itself, but simply because of the peace I knew it allowed for my dad.

Sadly, as his condition worsened, the toy was left more and more alone, and though still ever present, wholly silent. As in the end, dad was still surrounded by love, but Joy and Peace had to momentarily step out of the room, to allow for his passing.

Dad is now free from his earthly bonds. Joy and Peace are once again his friends, worry and doubt, vanquished from his new life. I believe that he is with our brother Jesus – who is most likely even right now asking him to stop gassing up the joint.

And dad’s Happy Pill? Well thanks to mom, it now resides with me. Now, I know that we will all remember my dad in our own way. But for me, I plan on making that silly little toy laugh in remembrance of him, a strong willed man, a Good man who – for at least a brief spell – saw the world as it could be. And as the memories he left behind are many, and good, I plan on doing so often.

And I will start today.

•••

The year in review

A strange thing happened a week ago yesterday. A strange thing that I could not address at the time, due to the other very strange thing that also quite suddenly occurred. But had that other very strange thing not occurred, I would have told you a week ago yesterday that my blog turned one.

It’s strange for two reasons. First and foremost, at only one year of age, my lil blog is already fully potty-trained. Secondly, after one year, I still love it. And I find myself oddly proud that it exists. I mean, in the grand scheme of things, I know it’ll just end up being one more blip, amongst a sea of blips. But this is my blip, and I made it.

Along the way, you good people have found my lil blog and – apparently gluttons for punishment, the whole lot of ya – you keep coming back. As a result, I’ve enjoyed watching my stats bar grow from the desolate plain it started out as, to the vibrant cityscape that I now see before me. Again, it may sound stupid, but this too makes me proud.

Now, while I don’t expect you to tap all of these, I thought what I would do is go through the year, and hand pick my favorite post for each month (in certain instances I could only narrow it down to two – deal!) It was a fun exercise, AND it was the very first time in my creative life where I was able to look back without seeing imaginary imperfections that drove me to simply tear up and discard my previous efforts.

Ready?

We’ll start of course, at the beginning. But before we do, I just need to tell you, this singular post – this one right here – has been one of my most read posts ever. EVA. I swear, almost every day since it was published, it shows up on the “Top Posts” section on my dashboard. Why is it so popular? I’ve no idea. If you happen to figure it out, tell me. I’d like to incorporate whatever it is into ALL my posts.

OK. Now, the list…

5/31 – I have something to tell you…

6/9 – this little adventure

7/24 – Love, NY Style, 7/26 – Nobody Weird Like Me

8/9 – SPAM & Comfort, 8/19 – Naked Spoons

9/21 – Dear Jesus

10/12 – an unabashed love letter to the people of Saint Ann’s, 10/21 – Muscleheads & Misconceptions (possibly my most favorite ever)

11/30 – last Thanksgiving

12/7 – conversations of Santa & Cybermen

1/20 – Secret Lives, 1/23 – We Will Walk

2/20 – Neither the Prince nor Old Lady Shade

3/19 – All The Sad Men, Roaming Free

4/2 – The Uninspired Chronicles Conversation, 4/11 – I will Refuse…

5/31 – In Memorium (the shortest, and to date, hardest I’ve had to write thus far)

Now, before I let you go, I did want to thank you. For reals. It’s your reading that makes my writing possible. It’s your acceptance – your “tribe” – that keeps me here and happy. I’m blessed to be amongst such a creative crew, and inspired to become a better writer every time I read your blogs (OK, well, not exactly every time – but they can’t all be zingers now, can they?)

So feel free to dip into any of the above, and in the meantime, let’s get our weekend started out right. BD?

Hey man, what’d I tell you about “BD”?

Err, sorry. Bobby?

Yes?

Play us outta here.

It would be an absolute pleasure!