Oh the hats in Chi – happy new year

The beginning. Pajama party. The end. 2013. You have been good to me. Challenging. But good. Thank you 2013. Dear 2014, you better be fucking amazing. And epic. And completely amazing. And epic. My third year in Chi for New Years, I wouldn't have it any other way. It's snowing out, the air is thick with alcohol. It's New Year's! It's a stay in party. An all week prep for a warm cozy night with old friends and new friends, all good friends. I love this crowd. Especially when they put up with my southern ways. What a spread. The food, simply amazing. The wine. The beer. The whiskey (see, they do know the southern boy). North side Chi-town hardwood floors. Perfectly cleaned with love and elbow grease. The reward. Purple Cowboy! The whole place smelled of heaven. It's the end of the year. It's actually an end to a lot more. It's a start of a new year. A start of a new adventure. They say you can either sink or swim. And I say that you cannot do either if you don't get in the water. So I jump in. My life is changing drastically in the next few weeks, and in times like these, traditions of being with true friends as the ball drops, yeah - that's what keeps me alive and awake. He drinks a whisky drink The future is not always certain. But I do know that the days will march on. And if I choose to not react and simply let time fly by. And if I choose to have no passion. And if I choose to be in the audience rather than the show. Well, then. Fuck me, I'm screwed. He drinks a vodka drink People are real. I swear. Cross my heart. I just found out myself, therefore will completely understand if you have a hard time believing me. Really, they are living and breathing the same air as you. Even in 3D (without any special glasses), which is pretty cool if you ask me. But because of this, it also means they can get hurt. Which also means that they will bleed. It can happen. He drinks a lager drink Men shoveling snow. It's still snowing. Are you chasing your tail? Is anything ever complete? Back home it is leaves. Do I rake every time a leaf falls or do I wait until they are all laying dead on the ground.  If you wait, will the sun melt the snow, the wind blow the leaves away. I don't have time to wait. It must be now. He drinks a cider drink Smile. Do you know how fucking much it means to someone when you smile at them. Even if it's just a friendly passing smile in the airport. There's energy. Compassion. Love. A simple "Hey, how are you.?" Get your heads out of your text message. In person. Be there. In the NOW! He sings the songs that remind him I think this year has taught me one big lesson Love me, hate me, I don't care. But regardless, I will love you in some capacity. I've had the deepest conversations with people I had never met before. Partially because I just wanted to talk. Something on my mind. I'll never see them again, so what does it matter. I no longer believe in bull shit. Let it come out. You have friends and family when it becomes a life issue. But really, who is to say that a random stranger can't offer another view point that opens up the reality and help. Unbiased. Honest. True. Brutal sometimes. Of the good times Southern comfort. Some nights. I count my blessings every day that I wake up in a bed. And every cup of coffee I pour myself. And every pair of jeans I pull over my tired feet. He sings the songs that remind him Maybe I don't have the best plan. But I have a plan. And that plan is to work hard and play hard. And worker harder. And I refuse to go down without trying. And if I fail. Well. Then I try again. And if I fail. Well. Then I try again. And one day... Of the better times The year 2014 will not be easy. If it were easy, everyone would do it. But. It will be real. And real is what I want. Need. Crave. So here's my real. Right in front of me. And I cannot do this without family and friends. Those that listen to my crazy ideas and support me. They may not believe in ny ideas, but they believe in me. It's balls to the wall. It's try to keep up or I'll leave you in my dust. To the hats in Chi, I love you. I live on the edge of insanity. You put up with me. I may act irresponsible. I'm the most grounded person you will probably ever meet. I got this shit. Yes, I fuck up often. I'll admit that when it happens. I'm out there. Trying. For me. If you want to go for a ride, hop in. Cheers & Happy New Year, Me (10)

Merry Christmas 2013

"And so this is Christmas…" I jumped up this morning from a happy dream into a cold sweat. The next few months are going to be tight, how am I going to make it? That's all I could think about. And then it kicked in. The drive. So I put on a pot of extra strong coffee and sat down to fight deep copy versus shallow copy on javascript arrays. Yes, I was working. And the coffee was excellent. Santa hasn't made it here yet. I suppose he is waiting for me to go pick up the kids since I was up half the night. My tree looks like shit, but has character thanks to the cat. And I am OK with this. IMG_20131225_112302_282 After resolving a few bugs, I decided it was time to make the phone calls and text messages and FaceBook messages to wish everyone a very Merry Christmas. The work can wait. Well, no, it really can't wait. But, family and friends come first, and long after the kids are worn out this evening and well on their way to dream land, I will be up. Working. But until then, I think that I should really put it down and see how my skills with wrapping paper and tape are this year. Probably not any better than the last 10 years. The kids will be here in a few hours, and although this year is *light* - it will still be a good time. I had a weird, sinking feeling yesterday. This is the first year since the divorce that I have not taken the kids to Orlando for Christmas. With the way Christmas fell on Wednesday and their school holiday schedule, it just didn't make sense. Usually I'm writing this from warmer weather, and it kind of makes me sad. The kiddos understand, but this is our thing. Last year peppered our vacation with 24 hour stomach bugs, but we got through it and made the best of it with trying to find Lego Santas in LegoLand. And then there is the whole waking up on Christmas morning to presents under the tree. It's become a coming over at 3 PM to find presents under the tree. I suppose that it does relieve Santa of some pressure to get here in the middle of the night. He's a busy guy, for sure! Well, maybe it doesn't really matter. I mean, it's Christmas. And what ever we do together is what is important. I'll spend the afternoon and evening with the kids, the dog, the cat. And I'll probably cook a horrible dinner tonight because I don't feel like cooking. But that is OK, we are together. So to all of you out there... Merry Christmas!

Hands

This has been one of those weeks. The kind of week you finish, but aren't proud of. It started well. Plans. Goals. Deadlines. And started to slowly sink as the sinuses reared their ugly head. And not breathing turned into not sleeping. And stuffy head turned into nose bleeds. And those turned into doctors. And I hate going to the doctor (no offense to any of you in the profession). In my misery state, box of tissues, nasal spray, blanket, hot tea, prescriptions I cannot pronounce… I thought I needed someone to take care of me, to comfort me and, well, baby me. I'm a handful when I'm sick, be warned. But then I stepped back in my miserable state and looked down. Down at my hands. These hands that write to you tonight. Someone once asked my if I were to retain only one sense for the rest of my life, what would it be. I used to answer with sight. Visual is still very high on my list, and there are wonders of the world that can only be partially enjoyed without sight. But the more I thought, the more I realized that touch is what I cannot live without. These hands. From holding a child seconds after it's first breath of air to touching a starfish the size of a dinner plate 20 feet under the surface of a vast ocean. Aiming a telescope at Orion's Belt, painting a room. Throwing luggage into the overhead to go find some new place and new friends. Where would I be without my hands? Where would I be. These hands. They pick up toys, they cook dinner. They make wine. They write code. They dial phone numbers. These hands. They walk the dog, they drive, they write. These hands. They help me find the way in the dark, they navigate through touch. These 10 things, 5 attached to each appendage to make my hands. These hands. Touch the stars. With my hands.  

Dream state

I've been having this recurring dream for the last 10 days now. It's really strange. It would be cool to say that it involves an exotic lady half my age, but that's really not the case. It starts out at dusk. I'm at a party of sorts, there's a pool. It's a night where there should be galactic things going on in the skies. So this crowd is standing in the grass looking up at the sky. The one time in a billion years where there is a blue night sky. And the sky lights up. Not like lightning, but strange azure patterns brightening the dark dark, blue sky. Then there were waves. Waves of baby blue light that dance in the darkness. Almost teasing the crowd as they stare up in awe. This lasts for a time and is then followed by more flashes. Different patterns of chaos in the heavens. And then bubbles. Perfectly formed bubbles 10 inches in diameter floating everywhere. And I grabbed one. As soon as I did, I was floating. I heard someone say, "breathe out to descend, in to ascend." I tried this procedure. I was stuck, holding on for dear life on the gutter of some nearby house. Looking down on the *pool* party. Someone threw a rope and pulled me down. I ended up sitting on a tractor, holding on to combat negative gravity. Not knowing if I would float into space or not. Breathing out as much as possible. And then I drove the tractor into the ocean. The squid lined up in a row and stared at me like I was a foreign creature in their world. The eagle rays brushed by, gently caressing my skin. The tide carried me, I swam and breathed water. It felt heavy, but clean. Perfect. I ended up on a beach. Uncharted. Untouched. Someone was there.

Dad wants pie

Well, he does! I suggested that I would bring the normal drunken pumpkin pie for dinner tonight. And then I called him the other day and told him about the mamey sapote I had ordered for what I hope to be the last batch of wine this year (no, that's a lie, lavender is also happening this year) and somehow he got on the subject of sweet potatoes. And raisins. So the request changed to "Dad wants sweet potato pie with raisins" and my Caribbean rum loving self says, "and rum." Because what pie isn't better with rum! So yesterday, off to the store for sweet potatoes, milk and eggs. Yeah, no, I came back with all sorts of goodies. Ground lamb for chili tomorrow (unless Mom sends home leftovers and then it's Saturday chili night). Oh, and raisins. Which reminds me once when my sister and I were much younger, still living in Ohio, Mom had these little pie dishes and we made raisin pie. I don't recall if they were good or not, my 6 or 7 year old taste buds probably thought they were delicious. Or maybe it was just the fact that I was baking with my sister. I think we also made Cheerio pie once, who knows. Which then got me to thinking about where I am now. And yes, also about the Thanksgiving holiday. If there really even is one. I mean Black Friday was bad enough, only once in my life did I venture out. But no, now it's Fucking Thursday. And I don't mean the thing that happens in bed (or on the kitchen counter). Sure, you go line up at 7 PM at that Wally place to get your $69 LCD TV and your  $10 deep fryer. Because you know, that shit is more important. Damn, just come to my house and you can have my TV for free. But you will stay and have a drink and we can chat and hang out because I could give 10 shits about my TV, but I give a shit ton about you. All of you. Those people in my life that are friends, family, acquaintances. No, I don't "need" the holidays. I need my kids, my family, my friends, the people that make life rich and full of awesome sauce. The ones I would drop anything for and they would drop anything for me. That is what I am thankful for. And I can celebrate that every day of the year. But I am looking forward to sweet potato pie.

Push

Ten minutes until the next train. Silence in the station. That guy over there, probably just looking to get out of the elements. The lady with the stroller, gently rocking it back and forth as her child gently sleeps. Her, fashion diva, long thin legs decked out in matte black boots. Him, his suit without a wrinkle, perfectly done bow tie. And then it came. The train. Air rushing out of the tunnel, first barely a breeze. Then whipping to hurricane like forces as the train nears. Push. Push the air. Steel beast guided by tracks that feed the heartbeat of the city. Push the air out of the confines of the hole you speed through. The hole carved out of stone. Blue sparks light the darkness as you rush to stop. I step onto your floor and you push again. But now I am inside and can no longer feel your power. Only the gentle rocking, like I am in the stroller. And the silence becomes the click clack of your wheels on the rails. And the air you push touches someone else at the next station.

The boy gets an ice cream cake

Seven years ago today. My how time flies. To my son that sometimes doesn't listen. To my son that starts talking when his feet hit the floor and stops talking  when his head hits the pillow. To my linebacker. To my little boy that knows more about dinosaurs than I ever dreamed of knowing. To my son that now wants to learn just as much about other animals. For my frog catcher extraordinaire.  To the soundest sleeper I know.
s6000725

Christmas 2007, sound asleep on the floor.

To my camping buddy. My water gun canoe dude. To your curious mind, your creative thoughts, your positive outlook. I loved spending your special day with you (and guess what? time changes tonight, so it lasts an extra hour). Happy birthday! I love you to the moon!
Joey

I love Oreo Ice Cream cake

 

Save the queen, aw hell no!

I've been battling fire ants for what feels like ten years now. I finally found some good stuff to kill them, but it only partially works. And the bad part it that it smells like pure crap, rotten eggs, sweat and beer farts all rolled into one disgusting odor. What has been happening as of late is that I sprinkle the white nasty powder on a huge ant hill that mysteriously appeared overnight. Then I watch the worker ants slowly die. Then a few days later, no more ants. Then a day or so later, damn, another ant hill a few feet away. So what I'm wondering is if the queen counts her workers and if a large enough quantity do not return from their daily duties, she tells the whole colony to pick up and move. So yes, a queen in any other sense should be saved, but I'm ready to kill this bitch!

Send Mary to Paris

Mary, you have certainly rocked the world with your words. We met in NYC (sort of... virtually), you wrote It's snowing in New York and I read your words while stuffed into a small hotel room somewhere around 22nd and 6th ave. And trying not to wake my roommate, I snuck outside only to return back to my room having not seen the snow. And then I wrote back. And fell off to dream land. And woke up in the morning to snow in New York. And I've read every word since. And today... well, I read The Paris Promise, and by gosh by golly, I think you should go. So. What I propose is that you have a world wide campaign to send you to Paris and the only thing the world will ask for in return is for lovely pictures on your blog and the wonderful words you share with us. So Mary, set up a PayPal account or something, because I'm challenging the world to make sure you celebrate your 30th in Paris. Because we want to hear your words tell us all about Paris. And to quote you, "As long as I am choosing life, and honoring my passions and keeping my dreams alive and not stifled, I don’t think I can really go wrong." I hope to travel to Paris through the wonderful words you write. I will personally contribute to your Paris fund and I hope everyone that reads this will as well. It doesn't have to be a huge amount, a few dollars each and we get to experience Paris through Mary's eyes. And wonderful words. Cheers!