This and that, here and yon:
I love weekends like this past one. A healthy mix of being healthy, being somewhat debaucherous, being serious, being quiet, being creative.
I truly love my Weekdays With Pattie, random mornings or afternoons spent poking around on bikes, looking at things from new perspectives, laughing and escaping reality. But not escaping reality, if that makes sense. Pattie’s an old, good friend with whom I worked when I first moved to Atlanta. We’ve kept and renewed our friendship and the time we spend together is very valuable on so many levels. Mostly, though, it’s just fun.
I put in a few good hours of work just after our adventure Friday so all was not lost. It’s so interesting to me how the words for work come out and lay on the paper, waiting to be rearranged. Now to find a way to capitalize on that. Happy to be out in the day regardless.
I was up early Saturday and out on the road bike. Brisk, overcast with occasional sun, a perfect late fall ride. My averages were OK, typical of the off season and 10 extra pounds, I guess.
I got caught up with Erik later and we had a cocktail or 6 with Dale and the Dude. Good friends, good times.
Sunday was, howyousay, a bit slow. But gorgeous nonetheless. I spent the day in the kitchen, slowly pulling together a meal for dinner with some of my closest friends. Amy Winehouse played, the autumn sun streamed through the windows, the food came together perfectly and contentment reigned.
I can say that I’m never truly happier than gathered around the table with the ones I love. Last night was no exception. I need to remember that when the pressures of reality come calling.
In case you need something to worry about, no need, I most likely covered it this morning between 4 and 6:45am.
(Apologies to Stephen Patrick Morrissey for stealing his song title and using it in a non-sarcastic way).
Lots of darkness around this blog since I wrote of Jim, the errant turtle.
Last night was dark, true (pun intended). But the evening was sparkling and lovely.
Good friends from way back (and about 12 ways to Sunday) hosted a dinner featuring the wines they’ve been lovingly making for the past 5 or 6 years. Funny thing, the interwebs, I wouldn’t know any of these folks if it weren’t for the first iteration of this blog and a wife who was running late.
So, there you have me and one of my dearest friends of 15 years at the table with another friend who I initially know from tending bar. She’s been about an inch outside of my Atlanta life until about 10 years ago. Now we’re tight. Then there’s the DJ that my pals and I forced ourselves upon and haven’t let go of. She dispenses fun and can single-handedly take credit for a revived nightlife in this town. Then there’s the chef who I know through my newest and oldest friends. The man is a vegetable whisperer, his talent with food so calm and natural. Then the newest of friends, a couple, friends of the barkeep, he I know from my short stint at LaTavola and she, it turns out, from my hometown. Where the winemaker is from. And his wife, the sister of my high school girlfriend’s best friend.
See how this works? The circle continues to close.
Did I mention the wines are wonderful? Made on the proverbial shoe-string, they are funky, delightful California wines, each vintage with its own distinct personality. The only commonality in them is the knockout notes of passion on the nose and in the mouth. You can literally taste it.
Nights like last inspire me. Thanks Dirty. Thanks Amy. Thanks Rowdy. Y’all rock!
The news last week of another terrorist bombing, this time in Paris, the City of Light, was not particularly surprising. Not at all really. This, sadly, has become the world in which we live.
What has surprised me, though, are people’s reactions. Via social media, the responses have been overwhelmingly short-sighted and ignorant, based in fear. I hate to be the one to say it, but we’ve brought this on ourselves to a great extent. And now we’ve got to deal with it.
For some reason, I’m neither optimistic nor discouraged. It’s a fact, albeit a dark one, that we now face a radically changed world. We’ll continue to give up our liberties and change how we perceive the other. This is what is so sad to me. A great measure of the joy of living has been usurped – hijacked – while we weren’t looking and while we pushed the limits of our largesse.
One reaps what one sows. And sadly, that goes both ways.
On days like yesterday, when I’m discouraged, depressed and disappointed, I need to remember how I felt walking into CNN Center on Monday mornings. The dread of another week doing soul-sapping, mind-numbing work for other people clashed just perfectly with the self-induced physical discomfort and disconnect from reality (call it a hangover, whatever…). I need to recall why it was that I chucked it all to the wind and set out on a journey with a loosely defined destination. I’m still alive. I’m a bit poorer on the balance sheet. My hair is turning gray. I don’t sleep well. But I’m home and I’m doing things on my terms. Successes haven’t come as quickly or in the volume that I want, but they’re mine. I am closer than ever to the two people that gave me life. Today is better than a year ago and infinitely better than two years ago. I’ve reconnected with old friends and made dozens of new ones. I know who the true ones are. While the destination may not be completely defined, I know now where it is I DON’T want to go. Fear is no longer part of the equation. And for that, I’m eternally grateful.
Today is Veteran’s Day. The day we honor those of us who served this country in the Armed Forces.
What should be a solemn day of reflection and, quite honestly, regret, has instead become a pseudo patriotic holiday replete with all sorts of marketing tactics…deeply discounted goods and services, red-white-and-blue logos, waving flag GIFs on the background of websites and free offers. Offers for free cups of over-priced, over-brewed coffee. Shitty pancakes loaded with empty carbs. Waffle fries.
So instead of saying “thank you, we’re sorry your legs got blown off,” or “we appreciate your service and we’ll try better to comfort you and rid you of your recurring nightmares,” we’ve allowed our society to say “come on down for a deep discount on a wide screen TV” and “come buy a green light bulb, screw it in to show your solidarity with these injured countrymen” knowing quite well one cannot buy just a solitary light bulb at Wal*Mart.
No, how about we honor those of us who left home, endured countless hours of boredom and bureaucracy, made our Moms and wives cry, got shot at, got poisoned, went crazy, lost a limb or lost our very lives with a promise not to ask these same things of the next generation. How ’bout we do that instead?
That would be the best Veteran’s Day offer yet.
It’s been bothering me since yesterday morning.
Cold, rainy, fog and a persistent breeze, we’d been socked in like this for 10, maybe 12, days. No break. No sunshine. Just flooded basements and leaf mold.
I made my way to Your Dekalb Farmer’s Market like I do most Monday mornings. This time I battled depression and ever-fogging windows. The 15-year old Volkswagen couldn’t keep up with the enormity of the Gulf’s moisture.
My last stop at the huge market is always the fresh fish area. Clean, spacious, well-stocked, it’s quite extraordinary. They’ll filet any kind of fish for free and the prices are obscenely cheap. I bought 21-25 Alabama Gulf shrimp (previously frozen) and checked out the lesser parts….roe, smelts, squid tubes and legs…sad oysters suffocating under ice. I turned to leave when the splash caught my eye.
On Mondays, the live fish tanks are normally empty, deplenished from the weekend and ready for the week’s cleaning. But yesterday, there was a flicker of water and light and I was drawn to it.
Catfish. A complete 4′ by 10 ‘ by 1′ tank of teeming catfish.
Except. Except for the yellow and black head, bobbing between the flanks of the stupid fish. He floated up and down, inhaling and submerging. He looked my way.
I stood, marveling at the turtle, somehow mistaken for a catfish.
My mind raced. Where did he come from? Why was he there? Was he for sale? I had just read about Turtle Stew, but he was far too small for that. And besides, he was a solitary terrapin among several hundred of Dixie’s cheapest protein source. Had he somehow sought out the delicious algae of Auburn or Southern Miss’ commercial catfish ponds? Was he parched and accidentally (perhaps fatally) seeking a drink at the time of harvest? Was I imagining this shellback? Should I tell someone? Should I buy him?
He bobbed up and down. We exchanged glances. I peered closer, making sure I was, in fact, seeing a turtle in the catfish tank. I couldn’t see his shell, only his yellow and black head, his beak, and his furtive gasping of the air.
He submerged one last time. Didn’t come back up. Uh…disturbed (is that the right word?) I went to pay and leave. I have no idea what happened to him. Why he was there. What would happen to him.
I’ve not stopped thinking about him. About Jim, the errant turtle.
This will be an exercise for me. For catharsis and clarity.
For, um, er, exercise. The flexing of the writing muscle.
Looking back over these pages, I realize there are dreams and actions and starts and stops. There were amazing adventures and the pushing of self. I regret none of it.
I’m only here, writing. It’s the one constant, the one thing that’s always been in me.
I need it. I know that.