Wednesday, January 28, 2009

"The days they pass so quickly now..."

Sometimes you don't really think about your age. Then sometimes it hits like a freight train. One of my nephews is about to be a dad. So that means I'm about to be a great uncle (in my mind, I've always been a great uncle..but anyway...) We spent the weekend engaged in funeral activities for someone I've known since birth - one of the folks that's always been here and you figured they always would. I had yet another reminder this morning of how old I am that was as subtle as Rush Limabaugh's ego.
I was listening to a morning radio show on an "all the hits" type station. The hosts of this show use the word "totally" a lot. But I'm driven to their show because I find sports radio shows in this town intolerable. If it's not the Georgia Bulldogs (note correct spelling of "dogs") or pro basketball they don't discuss it. I have no interest in either. Anyway, they're discussing "romantic" songs and what should be on your play list when you're snuggling with your honey-bunny on Valentine's. Out of all the songs they discussed and played I knew two of them. Honest to God, I only knew two of them. One was a Beatles' song ("I wanna hold your hand") and one was an old Etta James song. The rest of the songs were performed by people who probably also use the word "totally" a lot.
How can you have a discussion about romantic songs and NOT include Sinatra singing "My Funny Valentine" ??????? Or Sinatra singing "One For My Baby(and one more for the road.)"??? It probably speaks volumes about me that I consider Greg Allman singing "Melissa" the epitome of romance.
Speaking of age, I was at the gym yesterday riding the bike. I was proud of myself as I went longer than I've ever been able to on the bike. I'm feeling pretty cocky until I notice the woman on the bike next to me. She looked to be well in her 60's and the timer on her bike indicated that she was in her second hour on the darn thing. And her legs were flying...if it'd been a real bike I swear she would've been doing 70 mph. I wanted to get off, go pop a cold one and listen to some Allman Brothers tunes...totally.

Monday, January 26, 2009


E W smiled with his whole face, not just his mouth. His eyes smiled, too. He could make you laugh anytime, anywhere. He was just another of the individuals that, as a boy, gave me a glimpse into what it meant to be a man. Men like my father, Uncle Ralph and E. W. - I figured these men could charge into hell with water pistols and scare the devil out of his own house. They had the answers to every question, they knew the solution to every problem and they navigated families through good times and hard times. But while I aligned him with these men of strength and fortitude, I also found a "human" edge to E.W. Wait, as a man you can be strong AND caring, sensitive and nurturing? To put it in terms usually used to describe athletes, E.W. was the whole package.
While in the Army, he guarded a water tower somewhere in Arizona carrying only a broomstick (because there wasn't ample supply of weapons....although late in the day on December 7, 1941 they found a need to put a real weapon in his hand.) He served in Europe in WWII and then came home and married his sweetheart. His honeymoon was cut short because his sweetheart had to get home lest she ruin her perfect Sunday school attendance record. They spent the next 59 years building a life that included five children, twelve grandchildren and eleven great grandchildren.
They laid E.W. to rest yesterday while a bugler played "Taps." He received military honors and they handed the aforementioned sweetheart with perfect Sunday school attendance his folded flag. I went to a hero's funeral yesterday. As I walked away from his grave, I was reminded of the day back in 1985 when we buried my own father. That day, as we started to depart the grave site, I looked back to find E.W. standing over the place where my father was buried. He was sobbing uncontrollably. He was the last person to walk away from that grave. I realized then that he and my dad were more brothers than friends. I also realized that being heartbroken and letting your emotions show make you no less a man than the next guy. My wife often scolds me for being so hard on myself. I hope that after spending the last couple of days learning of the legacy left by the men that raised me she understands why.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Personal Trainers

I feel so trendy. I feel so Hollywood. I've had a session with a personal trainer. I'm in. A PDA and a bluetooth thingy in my ear are soon to follow. I'm going to flit around the tennis skirt Kroger in my warm up suit and talk really loud in my bluetooth thingy about "doing lunch," "touching base," "networking" and "revisiting this issue next week."
That's laughable. I'm not a bluetooth thingy in my ear kind of a guy. And I probably won't be a personal trainer kind of a guy. Part of my new membership to Gold's Gym included 2 sessions with a personal trainer. They're a bit out of reach for our budget right now. But it would be good to continue the sessions. The young man assigned to me pushed without being Vince Lombardi. He asked the right questions and suggested a smart path - a slow start, some cardio, some resistance. He understood that my upper body is strong, but my lower extremities are still feeling the brunt of carrying so much weight for so many years. So most everything was on a bench, toning upper body and letting the cardio work (on a bike) gently tone the legs.
It's hard to believe now, but I used to be young and enjoy athletic endeavors. It felt really good to be working up a sweat and tweaking muscles that have sat dormant for so many years. It felt good to go to bed stiff and sore. But I must admit some trepidation. We were doing some band training (a new one to me...last time I worked out it was either Nautilus or free weights.) He was pulling one on end of these bands and I had the hand grips in the other. My fear was that the grips would slip out of my hands and I'd send this kid flying across Suwanee, Georgia like somebody in a Bugs Bunny cartoon. Fortunately, it didn't happen. When he suggested this band training I thought "great...I'm still being treated like an old, fat guy and I'm going to have to do some wimpy rubber band training..." I had images of old folks in wheelchairs wearing sweatbands, coach's shorts and dress shoes passing a big rubber ball back and forth as part of their physical therapy. I was wrong. It was a workout in every sense of the word. The kid knew what he was doing ("kid"..he was probably 30 years old...ok, so I am old.)
You know what the highlight of the afternoon was for me, though? He sat us in front of the mirrored wall for our workout. I cringed, still living in a time when I avoided mirrors. But you know what? I wasn't sad about what I saw. In fact, trying to push out one more rep on a particular exercise, I gave myself a bad-ass grimace in the mirror. "Private Joker, let me see your war face!!" Turns out there's a drop or two of testosterone left...the countdown to the tattoo has begun!

Friday, January 16, 2009

Wandering Feet

"She knew when she married me,
that I had wandering feet.
Her mama said 'oh baby, please...
he's from the wrong side of the street...' "
(An all expense paid trip to Snellville, GA - "where everybody's somebody" - for the person who can name the writer of that song.)
I had an Irish Setter once when I was in high school...for about 2 weeks. He was a beautiful dog. Named him Heathcliff because Mother said I had to give him a good Irish name. Apparently Heathcliff was a character in Jane Eyre? Wuthering Heights? Ok, so my literature's a bit rusty. Anyway, he was a good dog. One evening, before I got home he jumped the fence in the backyard and took off. I was distraught and searched for hours. Never found him. Mother said "well, some dogs just have wandering feet...of course some men do, too!"
With my new found sense of energy and positivity has come another symptom - severe restlessness. I wake up every morning in a rush. I'm not sure what I'm going to do but I've got to do something. I'm not sure where I'm going but I've got to go somewhere. It's a good feeling some days, not so good on others. Sometimes I feel like I'm in a house on fire and there's no way out and I'm just running in circles. In short, I think I've developed a case of "wandering feet."
I'm lucky in that I work from home three days a week. Poor Rhonda spends most of her time exhausted. After dealing with sick folks all day she has to deal with Ga. 400. And then she has to deal with a husband who's always ready to do and go. I know she's happy but I also fear that I'm becoming hard to contain. I'm sure she feels like she's on a bull slinging dirt and snot all over a rodeo ring somewhere...except she's gotta survive more than 8 seconds (yeah, I watch bullriding on t.v. And NASCAR..and Hee Haw re-runs..WHAT OF IT?)

"...a sudden need to satisfy,
our sudden wanderlust to roam..."
(that one's a bit old Rush song, the name of which escapes me)
My weight had me living in a cave. I didn't realize that until it was gone. Now I feel like I've just been paroled. The sky's limit, the world's a playground, the road is wiiiiide open and I'm ready to spread my wings and fly (oh dear, I've run out of cliches.)
The problem with that is that I get really angry when the realities of life collide with my newly liberated mindset. I up and joined a gym yesterday. Now I've got to hope that the extra expense of gym membership doesn't put our already tight budget over the top. Uh-oh...heading to the gym means I've got to have something to wear. I've quit wearing the sweatpants I have around the house because I got tired of mooning my bride. I had some exercise-type shorts that I used for pajamas but they, too, have become obscene (whichever side of me you're standing on you'll get a view you'll regret when I'm wearing those puppies...especially if I was sitting on an exercise bike!) So I need to buy more clothes? Like we need that right after the expenses of the holidays! Gotta tell ya, I get angry when the daily buckets of cold reality rain on my parade. Don't the fates or God or karma or whatever know that my fairy tale is just beginning and it's way too early in the evening to pay the tab, tip the bartender and call it a night?
I've got wandering feet and the only cure is more cowbell! (no wait..that's not the line I was looking for.....)

As for the song trivia at the very beginning of this post - who wrote that line about "wandering feet.." ? It's a trick question...nobody's ever heard that line. It's from a song I wrote a long time ago called "That Last Pitcher" Yeah, it's as classy as it sounds.

Monday, January 5, 2009 I'm slack...

Wow...I didn't realize how long it'd been since I'd updated this blog. The holidays were a whirlwind (is whirlwind really a word?) The Christmas season started well but ended not so well - enjoyed Christmas itself but spent New Year's Day morning at the emergency room with mom. On the upside, early in the morning on Jan 1st is an excellent time to be seen at the emergency room as we were just about by ourselves. It's just a bad skin infection on her foot but it did need attention. It looked like someone poured hot cooking oil on her foot. Hopefully it's on the mend - I'm taking her to the doctor later today to find out.
I'm starting out the new year with a much different mindset than usual. I'm down a total of 203 pounds now. It's such a refreshing change to look forward to the possibilities in a year instead of dreading more of the same. I have no idea what the year will hold - the economy is still in shambles and I could join the list of those job-hunting after the year is over (fortunately, my position is funded through at least 2009.) Mother's health could continue to deteriorate as could her sister's (my Aunt Jean who - along with many others -helped make my surgery possible.) Israel is kicking around the Gaza Strip...oil prices are already threatening to go back up. I was thumbing through the Farmer's Almanac last night and hurricanes and floods are on the way. Lions, tigers and bears soon to follow! But, like I said, I've got more to be excited about than I do to dread.
I'm going to a baseball game this summer. Hopefully more than a few. I've spent the last few baseball seasons not even wanting to watch them on television. It made me angry, sad and disappointed in myself to watch them knowing that I couldn't fit into the seats at the stadium. That's no longer an issue. I won't be able to eat any "peanuts and Cracker Jacks" but I'll be there. That might be why the Braves have missed the playoffs the last couple of years. I wasn't there to provide constructive criticism from the cheap seats!
Fish of the world beware. I'm going to do a lot of fishing this year. I did a little last year but this year I'm getting serious. It's cheap entertainment and I think it makes anyone feel better to be outdoors. Of course if we don't get more rain this year than last there won't be many places left to fish!
And I'm really ready to go watch some hockey. I'll give our budget and our schedule time to recover from the holidays but then I'm itching to head downtown and watch some big guys with no teeth knock each other around. Hockey in person is worlds better than hockey on television.
It's not just the entertainment and leisure that's going to get better in 2009. It's the anticipation of how much more weight I'm going to lose. It's the realization that my life is now full of possibilities and not roadblocks. It's knowing that my mind and body are in better shape to deal with the bad and enjoy the good. And last, but not least, come August 12,2009 I'm going to shake up the coldest and tastiest martini in the history of planet earth and toast victories that are sweeter than any World Series or Super Bowl.