I Was Thinking About This OR This Made Me Think About June, 1967.

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I got an email the other day which is an event in itself since no one tends to communicate via that particular form of electronic communication anymore. They either text or stay silent.

So an email, any kind is an event in and of itself.

I signed up with my local medical -industrial complex to open a ” My” account which lets me see all of my past medical maladies and mistakes in one place. It also gives the doctor corporation free rein to remind me of appointments via text and email. Not or. Both, all the time which gets really annoying because I’m getting reminders of my appointment while I’m driving on my way to my appointment.

I suppose no shows cost the company money and so I get reminded to death not to miss my appointment at the appointed time and has anything changed since my last appointment because we want to know now so we don’t waste office time trying to replicate redundant information.

There is a dark joke here about email reminders and death I suppose. Help yourself.

In the long run, no one reads anything and no one listens and we end up wasting MY time because I have repeat everything I have previously entered into the “MY” account.

I got an email/text the other day reminding me I owed $1.43 and I needed to pay promptly except upon further review as the say in the NFL, the bill wasn’t due for three weeks.

I’m way off track here but my wheels are turning so I’ll head back to where I thought I was going when I logged in or logged on whichever is correct.

I get an email from a fella who is the class representative for my HS class of 1967 and there are about 80 other names in the send to line meaning there are about 80 other guys all my age and I know this for a fact since we all graduated in June of 1967.

I have no idea how many of us graduated that day on the practice football field. We didn’t have a stadium or a real field. We played on Sundays at a local borrowed HS field. Well, they, not me since I was below undersized when it came to football which as it turns out was a blessing in disguise. I have no facts back up my premise but I’m pretty sure that football was not in the original deck I was dealt.

The email from my class rep details a need for money for our alma mater, as all of these messages do. It’s hard to feel or remember anything about a place I sometimes hated, where I often went through the motions and barely expended any academic effort.

Besides, I left there over 50 years ago but I suppose my four years there gave me some sort of foundation for thinking clearly, thinking for myself and also thinking about others. So, ok, there is a whisper of sentimental attachment for the place I spent my wonder years.

My class rep details his life since that fateful day in June of 1967 when we donned those plastic/nylon graduation gowns and entered the real world.

He went to XYZ State, then law school, then worked for someone and then someone else, the company was sold three times and he ended up retiring from somewhere else and so here we are or so here he is.

He didn’t brag, just wrote in polite and humble lawyerese and asked us to reply with what we’ve all done in the intervening half century. One guy writes back, hits reply all and so now we all know he taught at Ohio State and some other football factory school. Retired grandkids and so on. He is retired, not his grandkids. I like to have fun with words and punctuation.

I reply to my rep only and here’s what I was aiming for when I clicked log in or on 15 minutes ago.

I highlight the highlights, useless History degree, skip the lowlights, getting fired, broken hearted, near bankruptcy, car accidents and so on. I don’t brag but I make myself look good in a modest way.

My point is it’s hard, nearly impossible to sum up your life in a few short paragraphs. Someone else does that in your obituary.

This past year has had me thinking about the things I did right, wrong and might have been questionable although at the time the questionable actions seemed appropriate.

More than the last year with all of it’s fits, starts and misgivings I suppose that as someone who graduated from HS more than 50 years ago I’m at the age where one starts to re-evaluate one’s last 50 years.

It’s certainly not to contemplate one’s next 50 years.

You do what you can I suppose. I do what I can.

And to what end is all the rethinking, re-evaluating and regretting? I’ve run out of re-something words. Add yours at you’re own peril.

Send me an email.

Dogs Live in the Moment

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I suppose they do. I don’t know as I’m no canine shrink or dog whisperer but I think they do.

They have a limited grasp of the past and the future – who cares? Next meal? I gotta go out? Gotta remember to chase the cat. Seems like a pretty full life to me.

The motto of the dog world seems to be.”What, Me Worry?”

Unfortunately we and I mean specifically me don’t, can’t or won’t live in the moment to any substantial degree.

Everything seems to be too much sometimes.

I went to a celebration of life this morning. We used to call them funerals. You can call them anything you want but it’s a send off for someone you knew well, maybe a little or maybe not at all.

The morning wore me out even though it eventually ended with a Dixieland Band playing ” When the Saints…”

That left everyone smiling and temporarily forgetting why they were where they were and why they were there. That’s a pretty succinct sentence I think. Sometimes repetition works.

See ” Helplessly Hoping” by CSN and maybe Y. He was in and out of that band on a fairly regular basis as I recall. Whatever happened to him?

This is turning into a catch all post after an exhausting day.

These days I’m buying 2 – 3 sympathy cards at time. Saves time and multiple trips to the store. Besides, then I don’t have to handle several different cards and I buy the same card every time. Saves mental wear and tear on me.

I just sign my name. I can’t think of anything better to say than the card has already said and I can’t possibly put myself into the mindset of the person receiving the card.

When my uncle passed away I was the executor of his estate. Before he died he handed me his address/phone book and told me to call everyone after he died to tell them he was no longer among the living.

You can’t dodge that responsibility so I didn’t. I called everyone.

I received several wonderfully written memories of my uncle from people who truly were going to miss him.

I just feel my words are inadequate or menial or trite or useless.

I came home form the celebration and took a nap. Then I walked the dog.

She has the right idea about life.

Arcs of the Universe and Such

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I was listening to Jackson Browne being interviewed on the radio via You Tube. There’s a twisted path to go down and unravel. The piece was a couple of years old.

The interviewer ask Browne about the song ” These Days” which he wrote when he was 16 years old. There is a line that says ” Don’t confront me with my failures, I have not forgotten them.”

The interviewer was stunned at the self awareness of a 16 yearly who could write such a line.

Browne says something about the arc of the song. The arc of the song.

Just like the arc of your life as an artist or a musician. Or the particular arc of your life as a person, a parent, a child, and so on.

Is your life one arc or is it several intersecting arcs? Anyway, arc is getting to be an overused word in the arc of this post.

Good theatre or a good book is supposed to take you from point A to point B. Even a bad show or a lousy book will leave you in a different place from where you were when you started. It’s that arc thing.

Where am I going with this? I had this idea for an arc piece but I was having trouble thinking it through to any logical end so I decided to throw words against the page or wall to see what sticks. This particular arc seems to be more like a straight line.

I’ll count the time in quarter tones till ten.

Things I Prefer

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Such as washing dishes in the sink by hand.

Telling people at checkouts in stores – Save the plastic I brought my own bags.

It saddens me to see a person leave a grocery store with a cart piled high with their weeks shopping list items piled up high in white plastic bags. Why is this happening in 2021?

I also hate seeing cigarette butts tossed on the ground. Again, why are we having this conversation in 2021?

I prefer to hang laundry outside in the spring and summer time. Why use a dryer sheet to add freshness and that “springtime fragrance ” to clean sheets?

I prefer baseball on the radio. And using my imagination.

The Value of Work

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When my daughter was 16 or so she desperately wanted a job. At the time I was opposed because I figured, hell, she has her whole life ahead of her to work. Why not shield her for a long as possible to the old nose to the grindstone?

The I slowly realized that there is value in work, like those two fellas in Robert Frost’s poem. The guys just want to work because it feels good.

As a now retired person I am not averse to still working but 2020 put an end to any pipe dreams I might have had of picking up a part time job anywhere.

I have friends who, as formerly working stagehands, have not worked a day in over a year. That’s what I am now, a formerly working stagehand.

When was the last time you saw a tv ad for a rock and roll band or a road show coming to your local venue? I’ll wait.

And because you haven’y here is a partial list of all the people who depend on that work who are sitting at home:

Stagehands, electricians, carpenters, props people, wardrobe people, gofers, caterers, venue security, musicians, guitar techs, keyboard techs, drum techs, lighting designers, sound designers, set designers, shop people in lighting, sound and set shops, no seamstresses, cutters, stitchers, spotlight operators, truck drivers, forklift operators, Stage Managers, back up singers, producers, directors, dancers, choreographers, scenic artists, tour bus drivers, production management people, no front of house people like ushers or ticket takers, no box office personnel, no parking assistance, no deck hands, no deck electricians, no truck loaders, no business agents, no shop stewards.

No trucks or busses on the road, no buying diesel, no hotel nights, no airplane flights, no taxi’s to or from the airport. No lighting or sound rentals, no set rentals, no instrument rentals, no pyro rentals, no one is buying things like zip ties or gaffers tape. No one is building road boxes or props or costumes.

I know everyone of my friends in the above categories wished they could be working now.

I wish they were too.

Sunday Morning Tastes Like Ketchup

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Or Catsup if you will. Anyway Sunday does, taste like ketchup that is.

For reasons of consistency I’ll spell ketchup K-E -T-C-H-U-P for consistency. Although someone once told me consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds. I don’t know what that means either. It might be a vague Shakespeare reference. You can look it up as Casey Stengel once said.

Looking things up is a lot easier these days then in Casey’s day. But honestly is the world a much better place because we have all of this instant information right at our fingertips on on our keyboards? I wonder what Kurt Vonnegut would say?

Sundays. Sunday mornings have been ever since I’ve been on my own and that goes back a few decades now, a leisurely and lazy day of the week, No servile work for me, no sir, unless I was getting paid for it and Sunday’s were always time a a half or double time. I forget. I retired a few years ago so it doesn’t matter any more anyway.

Sunday mornings were and still are a time when there is no rush to do or get anywhere except church. I took church off my Sunday to do list when the shut down began and I can’t bring myself to go back into a room, any room and sit for an hour trying to concentrate on my past, present and spiritual future.

Sunday morning obligation or not I always have associated Sunday mornings with fried eggs, toast, coffee and ketchup. It’s funny how a day can taste like something but it does.

When I was a kid we always ate eggs on Friday night because that’s the law, the rule which is no longer a rule or the law except maybe it is during Lent. We ate eggs because we probably had run out of food for the week and eggs were all my mother had left in the house. Iw as a kid. What did I know or care?

My dad got paid on Fridays, every week and so I’m sure my mother had to stretch that one paycheck 5 ways for food and whatever else the family needed, demanded or couldn’t live without. I don’t know how she did it.

I think banks were open to 8 or so on Fridays so all the paychecks that arrived home with dads could find their way to the bank.

Now my son lives in a state and uses a bank that is not even chartered in that state. I remember when I moved to Pennsylvania banks could only operate in those countries that touched ( contiguous?) the county in which they were originally chartered in. So at most a bank might be in three or four counties depending on the location. You can look up a map of PA counties and figure out how profitable or not that plan was. It’s all gone to hell now anyway as any bub with a plan can be a bank. Money, hah.

So, the ketchup premise of this piece might actually be about how cherished Sunday mornings are to me. How routines and certain foods and tastes and smells are an integral part of my being both in the taste and smell department.

Add in the local Sunday News and the day is complete. Mix in a Sunday afternoon ball game on the radio on the front porch life doesn’t get much better.

And somehow I’ve gotten from the title to The National Pastime and there’s only one and it’s called baseball. Football is a gargantuan spectacle that threatens to crush itself one of these days under it’s on weight but it does serve to pass the time on cold fall and winter Sunday afternoons.

Sunday in the Park with George – saw it on Broadway, Saturday in the Park, Another Park another Sunday, Sundays will never be the same and A Sunday Kind of Love.

All 57 varieties.

Human or Robot?

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I got a robo call the other day. Is robocall one word or two?

The robot voice on the robocall told me to press nine to speak to someone.

I didn’t press any key and the robovoice on the robocall told me I was not human.

I was shocked as I have always thought of myself as being of the human variety but apparently I have been fooling myself and loads of people all these years.

I told the robovoicerobot to go xxx himself.

My favorite robot is Woody Allen in Sleeper.

Staring Out the Window in Sunny Italy

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In my Dad’s last years when I did get to see him we didn’t have much to talk about which was not much different than when I lived at the house as a kid and a teenager and at breaks from college. He was already working at being detached and staring a lot which turned into his mo at and near the end.

He spent two years in Italy, France and Germany between 1943 and 45 as a rifleman in an infantry company. He saw the worst of the worst that people could do each other in the name of whatever name was being used that week. He may have even done the worst of the worst of things people can do to each other. He earned his thousand yard stare.

I can only piece his history together as he never spoke of what he had seen and done. All I have are scraps of information and maybe an anecdote from a relative who are either all gone now or on their way to being gone.

I think and I may be incorrect but when my Mom died my sister found the letters my Dad wrote to here from over there. They were married after he returned. He left as Person A and returned as Person B.

I don’t know where he went when he stared. Maybe he went nowhere or maybe he was right back there in what he liked to call ” Sunny Italy” which as everyone knows Italy was anything but during the war.

He never joined the VFW or the American Legion and to my recollection had packed up his WWll kit and kept it neatly stacked inside. Only there wasn’t anything neat or pretty or pleasant about it.

He had windows to silently stare out of. Maybe the soundtrack played in his head. Maybe it played a lot. Maybe it never went away.

He did come home in one piece I suppose but with a Purple Heart and a Bronze Star and the Combat Infantry Badge I wonder how complete he really was.

I seem to recall that he was hospitalized once and as he recuperated at home in bed his midsection and chest were wrapped in bandages and there was some talk I overheard of shrapnel “working it’s way out.” This would have been sometime in the mid 1950’s a good ten years after Sunny Italy.

He never talked and we never talked and none of us ever talked and when I wanted to talk it was too late.