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Tuesday, January 19, 2021

Stand Up In A Clear Blue Morning

Tomorrow at noon will feel like a brand new day.  At least for many of us.  

Four years ago, during a November vacation that happened right after I was "retired" from a company I had planned on retiring with, my wife and I watched election results in horror.  A man who had basically failed at much of what he had done in life...two failed marriages...six failed businesses...was going to the be next president.  From that point on, it honestly felt as if there were a cold wet blanket on this nation.  I wasn't proud to be an American.  I watched with a kind of downward head-shaking acknowledgment when he promoted racists and demoted those allies we had that shared in our supposed national values.  

Last November, there was a kind of glimmer of hope if you will that maybe, just maybe, we might get a new president.  A president that didn't, for example, rage-tweet in the middle of the night.  Even then though, I basically still wasn't sure it was going to end.  The tweeter-in-chief's campaign of countless lawsuits succeeded in planting some doubt in my, and I am sure others, minds.

On January 6th of this year, we had a kind of crescendo of sorts, when all the ugliness of a failed president and his supporters had their final stand.  A Waterloo worthy of any dictator.  While those events are a stain on this nation, they also gave me though something that was lacking:  A real sense of hope.  After January 6th, I knew it was truly going to end.

As I write this now, Joe Biden will be the new President of the United States of America in about 14 hours.  It feels like I can finally exhale after four long years.  In something of an interesting bit of synchronicity, I now find myself a few months into a new job where I very well may be until retirement.

Lastly, I offer this...

What do the President of the United States of America and the author of this blog have in common?

We were both born in Scranton, Pennsylvania!


Sunday, January 10, 2021

Life is What Happens

Last week was, in a word, terrible.  Granted, it was terrible for many of us, but I had two extra things going on, in addition to the terrorist attack at the United States Capitol:

  • It as the anniversary of my brother's death
  • My stepson's father passed away
As a general rule, I do my best to protect the privacy of others on the page, and that will continue for my stepsons.  I will note though that they had a complex relationship with their father, which is something I knew about going into my relationship with Ms. Rivers.  Based on that, and the advice of Dr. Gordon Livingston (in one of his books...), I made the decision early on that I would work hard at being a positive part of their lives.  Time will tell if I have been successful with that goal.  

For the record, I didn't attend the funeral services.  This was in part because I viewed my possible attendance as being both disingenuous and a distraction.  The disingenuous part comes from the fact that I could not honestly honor the life of someone who caused pain to people I love.  I know though that there were good times in that family in years past, so it is entirely proper for others to come and pay respects.  But not me.  I did though contribute to the effort in other ways, including editing the photo for the obituary.

I am reminded though by last week's events that sometimes great pain...and even part of the cost for a new life to begin.  That could be a new life for a nation that struggled for four years under the divisiveness of a malignant narcissistic leader.  Or a new life free from the what-if shackles of a non-supportive parent.  To that second point, well, I have some experience.  If you were to ask me how I felt when my own father passed away, my immediate answer would probably be "glad", as he was finally wrenched free from his physical and emotional pain, and at least one of his sons (me) was free from trying to understand why his father was never capable of actually being a father.  I know that's pretty dark, but on the other side of that passing is a kind of peace, as some memories do soften with the passing of time and (hopefully) the wisdom of age.  I hope that turns out to be true for my stepsons as well.

It's also time for life.

Sometimes when we're going through difficult times it's hard to remember that this is life.  That our life is ticking away.  By all means, we have to do the hard things of life, including losing people close to us, but we also can't get so focused on the trials that we miss everything else around us.  Life does not pause for us.  Life is always happening.

Monday, January 4, 2021

The Things We Can't Leave Behind

I'll cut right to the chase:  There isn't a day that goes by in my life when I don't think about my late brother Chris.  As in no matter what I am doing, no matter where I am, there are always thoughts about him pinging around in my head.  Some of those thoughts are probably best described as "whistful", as in thinking about what our lives should have been or what he would be thinking about relative to some current event.  Some of them are sad.  Some are just, for a lack of a better word, perplexing to the point of mental exhaustion, as I still really can't fully grasp just what happened 4 years ago on January 5, 2017.

If you are at all wondering just what the hell I am talking about you can click on this link:

Yes, 4 years later and part of me just doesn't understand what happened, and that runs counter to all of my emotional and intellectual programming, as by and large I ALWAYS HAVE TO UNDERSTAND.  I have to be able to make sense of my world and what's happening in it to some degree, as any loose-ends gnaw at me like a beaver on a birch tree.  I need understanding and order in my life now to balance what I experienced growing up.  Yet though on another level the death of my brother does not now, nor will it ever make any real sense.  What's more, one of the few bits of saving grace in my childhood was the fact that there were 3 others in the world who could understand this to one degree or another.  Now my youngest brother has settled into a world and routine where maybe these things don't matter as much to him now, which I think is a good thing.  That means now there is really only 1 other.

There are times when I honestly just wish I could break down into a puddle of emotional goo over what happened, knowing that at least then maybe I could hit the emotional re-set switch of sorts.  That doesn't work though for me.  I somehow believe that I was fated to find my brother in January 2017, precisely because that was better than others finding him.  You see, that almost stoic, restrained, logical person that I am is well equipped for calming the emotions of others during trying times.  Yes, I do the crisis management thing really well.  Yet that comes at a high cost (as John Mellencamp once wrote, "I do things my way, and I pay a high price"), namely a kind of emotional governor that I can't seem to disable.  I am left with trying to use logic to describe feelings that are inherently illogical.  It's a vicious cycle.  

For the record, I don't know what actual purpose this posting serves.  It's not actually even a half-way decent tribute to my late brother (you can click on the link above for that).  If anything, it's the kind of rambling insider stuff that part of me wants to dismiss.  However, this seems to be what I can manage to scrape together from the jumble of feelings I can't seem to fully process all that well these 4 years later.  I also get the impression that I'll be able to write this same posting 10 years from now, as the fundamental conflict at play, namely my needing to be "in control" vs. the very "out of control" feelings I have buried deep down are not likely to be resolved.  Simply put, I'm not likely to change all that much, and Chris is not coming back.  

In the final analysis, what is clear is this:  I just wish he was still here.

Friday, January 1, 2021

All is Quiet on New Year's Day


Welcome to 2021, and I'm not even going to try and add to the chorus of why we collectively needed 2020 to come to an end.  While it wasn't the worst year in my life, it definitely was up there in the top 5, and I, fortunately, haven't had anyone in my family get sick.  Sometimes though there is this collective terrible that falls upon us all that doesn't need to touch us specifically, and it just wraps around everything and everyone like a cold, wet blanket.

As for me, I did something around midnight that I almost never do...I had alcohol (pink champagne, to be precise) both ring in 2021 and to toast Ms. River's birthday.  I'm good now in the alcohol department for another year+.

As for the new year, I just want some normalcy.  

I want to continue to have a normal job.

I want to be able to go out to dinner in a normal way.

I want to worry about normal things when it comes to my children.  

I want the national news to be filled with normal, boring things.

I want politicians to Tweet about normal, boring things.

If anything, COVID-19 continues to remind us all just how good we had it back before "pandemic" became a present-tense word.

I'm not sure any of the above is too much to ask for, but yet some of it still seems so out of reach.

In any event, there is only so much we can control, and most of that is simply our own reactions.  So as we all stare down 2021 with a mix of hope and suspicion, let's not forget that every big thing is made of a bunch of small things, which holds equally true for the pyramids and our own attitudes.  

We can do small, hopeful step at a time.