I practice my presentations in front of mirrors, I like to look at myself when I practice because I’m my toughest critic. I was practicing for a big presentation and I leaned forward and looked closely at the hair on my head and couldn’t believe how many little gray hairs were popping up. I think I saw about 20 of them, I wasn’t upset, in fact, I felt like each one was probably well earned. If I had to guess, some of the gray hairs were self inflicted, perhaps I may have had some excessive celebrations in my youth (or not so distant past). A couple of those gray hairs may have been from stressing over relationships. A number of those gray hairs were the result of being laid off twice, both while supporting a family. The newest gray hairs are from the hellish combination of work overload, non-stop travel, and two kids that have my DNA. I think my whole head would be filled with gray hairs if it wasn’t for Jaclyn, she’s such a calming presence, like a sunrise over the ocean.
When you’re a baby, it’s an accomplishment to just grow hair on your head. When you’re a teenager/young adult, you’re doing things that will “put hair on your chest”. Now my hair is beginning to turn gray and someday it will fall out. It is funny how hair changes with you, I am glad hair changes and not your fingernails. How gross would it be if your fingernails turned black when you got old or just started falling off when you turned 40? I’ll take gray hairs over missing fingernails. Anyways, I wanted to look back and celebrate the top 10 things I’ve accomplished or appreciated in my pre-gray hair life:
Hitting a homerun over a fence. That’s about as good of a feeling as you can imagine, hitting a pitch on the barrel of the bat and admire it as it sails over the fence. The funny thing about hitting a ball is that if don’t hit it well, it hurts your hands and the ball trickles off the bat. If you knock the laces off the ball, I swear you don’t feel a thing, it’s like a hot knife through butter, and the ball just flies off the bat with such force and velocity, the world stops and watches, it’s a rare moment in life where you receive instant happiness. A lot of the stuff on this list aren’t profound and probably shouldn’t be glorified in any way, but I find satisfaction in having known the experience of hitting a homerun.
Grilling. I love the grill, love smelling meat smoke that pours out the back of the grill. Grilling seafood from Heller’s while drinking a Coors Light is summer perfection.
Smallmouth bass fishing on the Delaware River with my father. We’d take his 14′ boat up the river, hook on a minnow called a shiner, and drift down casting into the currents for bass. I remember sunny summer days in crystal clear water, seeing a smallmouth bass cruising along rocks, leading him by10 feet with my cast, watching him approach the minnow, snap it with his mouth and watching hundreds of small scales explode from the shiner, the light catches it like a mirror ball. We’ve probably caught thousands of bass and it never got old.
I love the commerce among burn barrels in crammed streets of the Italian Market in Philadelphia, the shady dealings of knockoff merchandise in Canal Street in New York, the fresh seafood on Fisherman’s Wharf in San Francisco, the fresh microbreweries popping up in Denver, the t-shirt pushers around the White House in DC, Mystic Pizza in Mystic, CT, guacamole made at my table on River Walk in San Antonio, navigating the casual good life by gas lamps in San Diego, beignets at the French Market in New Orleans, the happiness of Wrigleyville – an economy built on baseball, the uber rich luxury in Palm Beach, the afterlife of discarded items in the Golden Nugget antique market in Lambertville, NJ. I have an appreciation for the travel I’ve done, but happiest at home in an area of the world I find most beautiful.
Graduating from college. I really think I would have been much better off if I just started working somewhere after college, but I knew that stupid piece of paper (diploma) is worth so much in this world. If I had to hire an employee right now, I would not care what grade he/she received in philosophy as a Sophomore, I don’t even care what grade they received in economics as a Senior, what is important is that they have demonstrated real life business skill. Most of my professors never actually worked a day in their life in a real business, they were boring and impractical. School and college classes were like a prison for me, just wasting time until I could do something real with my life. Not that all college was terrible, we had plenty of fun outside of class, but that’s not the point, I just wish there was an alternate path after highschool that wasn’t career limiting. Academia was an exercise of subservience & regurgitation, I’m glad I graduated and that it is in my past. If I am ever a CEO (which I have no intention of being), I will do my best to offer promising high schoolers a career path where they don’t need to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars for an education, instead I will pay them to work hard and gain valuable experience. I hope I don’t sound ungrateful about the college experience, as having that diploma was a key that unlocked many opportunities. Someday I’ll be coaxing my own children to attend a good school, but that’s because the other options are very career limiting.
Getting glasses. I was informed at an early age that my eyes weren’t up to par, I think I was giving glasses when I was in late Elementary School or very early Junior High, I remember playing baseball with them on and a couple guys on the other team made fun of me and I don’t think I wore glasses for another 15 years. As a parent, I keep my fingers crossed that my kids won’t have to endure too much teasing and I will definitely ensure that our family always abides by the Golden Rule. Getting glasses has made a huge impact on my life. First of all, driving with me is not a life threatening experience anymore. The biggest change for me is seeing things so much clearer, I’ll never forget looking at the moon for the first time after having glasses, I had no idea there was so much texture on that big shiny object.
Lucking out. Just the thought of a gorgeous girl like Jaclyn going on a date with me was on the boundaries of insanity, she is stunning, smart, caring, enjoys great music, and is fun, she could go out with any guy in the world, why would she pick me? Maybe I just timed the market right! Whatever the reason, I lucked out and there has not been a more exhilarating moment in my life as to when she planted me with a kiss on the streets of New Hope, it stunned me and I cannot think of a better moment in my life.
Good friends. I wouldn’t ever tell them, but I feel pretty lucky to have the gang. Pretty unique to have a group of friends for so long and if I write much more, I will be chided, but they are great company and great people, except Ed.
Having kids. You never fully realize how much your parents did/sacrificed for you, until you have kids of your own. Someone said to me, “When you plant corn, you get corn”. Holy cow, did we ever get some corn with Winston and Dalia, I see so much of Jac and I in those kids. The funny thing is, when Winston does something crazy, I will say, “Jaclyn, look what your son is doing.” When Winston, does something wonderful, I’ll say, “That’s my boy!” There’s nothing better than watching their personalities blossom and seeing what they find interesting or funny. I cannot wait to see the trail they blaze.
Overcoming seasickness. For someone that loves fishing so much, it was horrible to suffer from a sickness that made me throw up repeatedly. Think about it, imagine if I barfed every time I played slow pitch softball or was watching an Eagles game, that would be horrible! I used to go out on the boat and throw up dozens of times on a single trip. I am not sure how I overcame it, I think I did it gradually, first by going in the fresh air of Lake Ontario, then in the Florida Keys, a couple quick tr
ips off the Outer Banks, and now I have been out on overnight trips 80 miles out. I used to dread the thought of going 3 miles out for Flounder, now I want to go out into the Gulf Stream for Tuna or Swordfish. I guess it really isn’t an accomplishment, more of a lesson that you’ll happily endure some crappy times when you’re in love with something or someone.
On Friday, I arrived in Chicago around noon and a friend of mine gave me a free ticket to the Cubs game that started at 1:20PM. After checking in at my hotel room, I ran down the street to catch the train to the ballpark, I was told to take the red line towards Howard and get off at Addison. I had no cash and the subway station didn’t take credit, so I asked the person working in the station for the closest ATM, she directed me above ground and across the street, I returned with twenty bucks and found out the ticket machines don’t offer change and $20 was enough money to last a month on the subway. I asked the subway attendant if he could swap my $20 for four $5s, but he couldn’t help me out. He asked if I was traveling with a buddy or if I had anything smaller, I just shook my head no, and he leaned in close and told me he could get me onto the train “just this once” with his card. I was real appreciative, but at the same time, I tried to pay about 3 different ways and there’s only so much you can expect a person to do before he gives up on the process.
By now, the Star Spangled Banner was being sung in Wrigley and I was just getting through the gate into the Monroe subway platform. It was dark and dingy, but somehow clean all at once. A man in his 30’s opened his guitar case and played Neil Young’s “Needle & The Damage Done”, it sounded better than Neil singing it himself, he got into the chorus and it was wonderful, a train rumbled in and washed out his song, I was disappointed to hear it fade away. The train pulled away and he started into Dylan’s “Knocking On Heaven’s Door”, at this point I was sold. I was completely at ease with being late for the game, I was enjoying this acoustic concert under the city, I wanted to give him a couple bucks, but all I had was the unbroken $20, so I enjoyed it for free. The train heading towards Howard arrived as he was singing Bob Marley, I hopped on and watched him disappear as we headed into darkness.
Each stop about 4 or 5 Cubs fans piled on, until we were traveling on the elevated platform arriving at Addison, where the gravity of Wrigley Field pulled us off the train and down the steps. The bars and vendors orbit the field, fans entering the front gates by the hundreds, even some pedestrians get pulled into the right field wall which is a 10 foot section of chain link fence where people on the street have a magnificent view of the field, the field’s gravity is felt by anyone around it and before long I was at will call picking up my ticket.
I’m finally done with my 4 weekends in a row of traveling and things seem to be tracking in the right direction for my new job, I’m hearing whispers of October 1st.
I had work in San Antonio last weekend. Hadn’t visited the city of San Antonio before and I was pleased to make the acquaintance. The city was unmistakeably Texas, but without the hubris. The River Walk is a Disneylandish canal that winds through the city with immaculate landscaping and hardscaping. I saw a couple of sunfish and carp in the canal, no people were fishing and no sight of bass. The River Walk was pleasant and made for a great stroll and provided hundreds of options for Mexican food, margaritas, and guacamole was ubiquitous. I went with a couple folks for dinner and someone asked for lemon slices, the waiter responded, “We don’t have lemons, there are no lemons in Mexico.” I thought about the waiter’s response, wondering why he said it, perhaps he was trying to give his Mexican restaurant some credibility by not carrying lemons, maybe he just wanted to provide a fun fact, but ultimately, the patron stated, “But, we’re not in Mexico, we’re in America and I really want a lemon.”
Once you get past the River Walk, you start seeing Texas radiate from the streets, the store front fonts, and architecture. A short walk from anywhere downtown is the Alamo. The Alamo has hundreds of years of history, occupied by a Spanish Mission, home to a historic battle, and later occupied by the US Army, but all I could think of was Pee Wee’s Big Adventure, when Pee Wee Herman asked “When are we going to see the basement of the Alamo?” I asked some of the people I was with if they’d ever seen that movie, but no one had (Author’s Note: not advisable to ask business clients if they are familiar with Pee Wee Herman movies as nothing too positive can come from it and the downside is you can be perceived as immature and odd to be celebrating his cinematic contributions). The Alamo is worth seeing, it is always better to experience history than to just read about it, but I think they could have done a better job of bringing the significance of the site to life. I even purchased the $6 audio tour to really get the full experience, in many cases the sites weren’t clearly identified and it was really just facts and not telling a story. One of my favorite sights was upon entering the Alamo, a fairly new sign was posted outside that said:
Remove Your Hats
I saw lots of cowboy hats in San Antonio, if I moved there, I’d have to own one. I’d also have to grow a mustache if I wanted to fit in. After walking about 5 miles around town and visiting the Alamo for an hour, I went to the movies and watched the latest Batman movie, which was AWESOME!!! Only downside was I kept on thinking someone was going to burst in and shoot me the entire time.
Winston left the doctor’s office in good spirits, but a bit out of it. He was anxious to eat popsicles and ice cream all day, he ate and drank like nothing had happened, the pain killers were working wonders.
Winston was instructed to take it easy during his recovery, movies and games on the iPad were acceptable as his tonsils healed. This is Winston’s dream regimen for recovery, he enjoys isolating himself and watching movies and playing video games, he could do that all day and that’s precisely what he’s doing. I’m more worried about gradually weaning him off the movies/video games than I am about the pain medicine (he hates the taste).
He needs to take the medicine every 4 hours, which means we have to set alarms in the middle of the night, wake him up, and give him his medicine, it’s going well, but can’t wait to close this chapter of our lives. I have taken for granted that we now get decent sleep each night and for the most part, Win and Dalia sleep through the night, it would be a shock to our system if we had another child and had to endure numerous sleepless nights again.. I tried to beat the system and wake up every 6 hours since he was not complaining of pain and was asleep anyways, when I woke him up 6 hours after his last dose, he expressed significant discomfort and was crying hysterically, I realized that I made a bad miscalculation at my son’s expense, not a good feeling for a Dad, the quickly reset the next alarm for 4 hours later.
We’re now 1 week after the surgery and he’s still in a decent amount of pain and the scabs are still large and appear sore. The doctor told us to expect 2 weeks of “heck on wheels”, but the first week wasn’t too bad and we’d expect the second week to be a little easier.
Thank you to all the friends and family that stopped by, it has been a pleasure to have so many visitors and your gifts for Winston definitely raised his spirits.
Dalia has been a real trooper throughout the process, she hates being cooped up inside and is the opposite of Winston, she needs to be outside running around and looking at bugs and racing across the yard trying to set new records. In general, she’s been very patient with him throughout the process and hasn’t complained about the attention he’s received.
Our family is ready for a vacation, I will have traveled for 4 consecutive weekends and it is taking a toll on all of us. Once we get past mid August, the fun should really begin.