Category Archives: 21st Century America

Blago and the Need to be “Somebody”

“What is it kid? You’re not saying much?”

“Just got the jumps.”

“Take it easy. We’re not going to lose him now. We had him ten years ago when he decided to be somebody.”

Some of you may recognize this scene from “The Sting,” a great movie which I watched the other night on one of the “retro” movie channels. For better or worse, they are the ones I frequent more than not these days. But my settling into “curmudgeondom” I will leave to another column. For those eager to wield that charge (Exhibit A, our daughter Anissa mockingly referring to her cardigan sporting dad as a real “hipster”) please note that my wife, Yolanda, and I go to many live performances of music, drama and trek to a nearby “Arts” theater each month to see independent movies produced outside the Hollywood sausage grinder. So back off youngsters. In fact, you might be well-served to look, listen or read something produced more than ten years ago. Open minds search in all directions.

Wow, I do sound like a curmudgeon. Sorry. But I feel better.

Back to “The Sting.”

For those who’ve not seen the movie Johnny Hooker (Robert Redford) is the “kid,” Henry Gondorff (Paul Newman) the seasoned con man. They are close to completing the hustle they are running on crime boss Doyle Lonnegan (Robert Shaw) and Hooker is “jumpy,” concerned Lonnegan will wiggle free.

I can imagine the FBI agents who arrested Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich a few years ago having the same conversation the night before they slapped handcuffs on him. In Blago’s case, they “had him” years earlier when he decided to run for public office. And for those who have any doubt as to why Blago decided to become a public “servant,” it’s time to get real.

FBI interviews, observations and wiretaps all point to a man who could not wait to sink his pudgy jowls into the public trough. Deals were cut as he was being sworn in for his first term as governor. This after he ran a campaign as a “reformer” who was going to Springfield to drain the swamp. One early red flag as to his commitment should have been his refusal to move his family to the state capital. Look, I lived in Chicago and love the place. I understand why Springfield may be less attractive to some, but did Blago understand that’s where the job was? That’s why they have a mansion for the family? That in politics and government, face to face meetings, hands on management, is still the best way to get things done?

Of course he knew this. He just didn’t care. Because he didn’t run for public office to accomplish anything for others, just himself. He saw it as an opportunity to make a fortune and enjoy the notoriety that comes with being governor. Which brings me to my perspective regarding Blago.

To me he’s just another example of someone who wants to be famous for no other reason than to be famous. Not because he’s accomplished anything worthwhile for society, like being a conscientious public servant who, regardless of whether we agree with their viewpoint, have honorable intentions. With that as a basis, we can then debate in good faith the who, what, when, how and why’s of public policy.

No such “good faith” foundation exists with an attention getter like Blago because they don’t care about anything but themselves and their public persona.  There is no “there” there, only narcissism.

When Blago was sentenced he professed to the court his regret, admitting he’d made mistakes, but still claiming he did not think he was breaking the law. Like the self-centered coward he is, Blago sought refuge in his children, his lawyers pleading to the judge that it was not fair to take their father away.  Jeopardizing his children’s future and his responsiblity to raise them was apparently not a concern while Blago pillaged the state, trampled public trust, and lest we forget, put the squeeze on a children’s hospital for a campaign contribution. The judge bought the mea culpa to a degree, knocking a couple of years off Blago’s sentence, but for the most part he was unsympathetic.

Of course, Blago’s plea for mercy was expected. No surprise.

Neither, in my mind anyway, was what happened next. After being sentenced Blago said a few words to the press, emphasizing his priority was to get home to his daughters. But as he walked toward a waiting car, he worked the crowd, shaking hands, waving, acting as if he was on a red carpet at an award show.  A few minutes later the scene was played out again at his home. Blago, unable to resist being the center of attention, even in disgrace. Kissing and hugging people, leaning over the railing of his porch as if he was his hero, Elvis Presley, shaking hands from the stage, before his wife, who had disappeared from view to enter the house, reappears and motions him inside.

Your daughters, Blago. Remember? The ones who need their father?

“Congratulations, pal,” I can hear Paul Newman say. “You’re somebody.”

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Filed under 21st Century America, Corrupt Politicians, Crime, December 2011, Elvis Presley, Institutions, Paul Newman, Robert Redford

The Biggest Loser: Exploitation or Enlightenment?

If beauty is in the eye of the beholder, then maybe feelings of pleasure are as well. One person’s enjoyment viewed with disdain by someone else. I can imagine it harking back to our earliest communities, a caveman sketching on rock walls being chastised by contemporaries who felt he should be hunting and gathering, laying a “guilt” trip on him for drawing stick figures when there was work to be done. Similar to how some people today might view musicians, poets, or, dare I say, writers, who wile away the hours “expressing” themselves for no apparent reason other than self-gratification. Driving them to practice their craft at night or in the wee hours of the morning while spending the rest of their waking hours working socially acceptable day jobs. Perhaps that ostracized caveman artist was the first individual to engage in what we now call a “guilty pleasure.”

Of course “guilt” is in the eye of the beholder as much as beauty. Sexual mores, for example, have evolved to the point where we openly discuss activities on afternoon TV that would make our grandmothers blush (OK, maybe great-grandmothers.) As for beauty, what we now term “plus-sized” women were the epitome of desire centuries past and the subject of innumerable paintings. Even today in certain cultures, what we would consider an overweight woman is viewed in a positive manner, being fat a symbol of sexual maturity, wealth, strength and wisdom.  Ditto for overweight men. Their girth a sign of financial success and the ability to provide.

In American culture not many positive attributes are applied to heavy people. There are exceptions, a few folk who are attracted to overweight partners. Some entertainers, like Queen Latifah, celebrate their size and encourage others to come to terms with their body type.  But for the most part the definition of beauty in this country is tied to being thin. You have far more celebrities, Marie Osmond, Jennifer Hudson, Jason Alexander and Dan Marino come to mind, touting weight loss programs as opposed to body image acceptance.

The irony of our quest to be thin is that we have never been fatter. For Americans over the age of 20,  34.4% are considered overweight and 33.9% obese. Overweight is defined as a body weight  1 to 20% more than medical guidelines, obese, 20% or greater. Thus, in America today, over 60% of people 20 or older are carrying too many pounds.

It is the nexus of these two societal constructions, the notion of guilt and our standards regarding weight and beauty, that make Reality TV shows like The Biggest Loser intriguing to those who study culture. For some, Reality TV, regardless of the subject matter, is considered voyeurism and/or an exercise in schadenfreude, the taking of pleasure in the troubles of others.  The “maybe my bad habits/lifestyle/personal choices aren’t so bad, look at this schmuck” rationale.  Seeking enjoyment from the trouble of others is not something to which most people will admit. So when the discussion of Reality TV comes up, many will say they do not watch such programs despite the fact that the shows garner high ratings and generate millions of dollars profit for the networks. Our lies about watching Reality TV are similar to the “I usually break even in Vegas” line. Really? Is that why the drinks are free as long as you’re gambling? Because everyone’s “breaking even?”

I’m not a regular gambler or overweight. But those times I’ve been to Vegas, I’ve lost money (while enjoying the free drinks.) Second, I like watching The Biggest Loser.  But it’s not because I take pleasure in watching overweight people sweat.  It’s because I admire what they are doing, fighting to regain their health and redefine their self-image.  While I understand that people come in all shapes and sizes and some are genetically predisposed to be heavier, the overwhelming evidence is that most people get overweight because we eat too much and exercise too little.  If you’re fifty or older like me, picture yourself, friends, or family in their twenties and compare their body size to today. Were all the currently overweight folks as heavy then as now? If not, I think we can toss out the “genetic” rationale and focus on diet and exercise.

If you watch a show like The Biggest Loser you realize that being overweight is not something people consciously choose. Some have always fought the battle of the bulge, others only as they aged. But almost all say they use food as a substitute for things they feel they lack like love, friendship, family, or acceptance, and they fill that gap by eating.  Their desire to lose weight is rarely about looking better. It’s about attempting to regain control of their emotions, health and lives.

That said, I cannot deny the show can be exploitive. That sometimes the camera should be turned away, the producers appealing to the schadenfreude contingent in the viewing audience. And, yes, there is a $250,000 prize to the winner. Yet, from my point of view, there are far more uplifting moments than negative. For those willing to dig deeper and look into their own heart, those positive moments engender empathy and understanding. As for the prize money, I’ve yet to hear an eliminated contestant moan about not winning. Rather, they are grateful for the opportunity to make a significant change in their lifestyle.

In a society that increasingly rewards image over substance, that encourages us to applaud the superficial and vain, that’s no small accomplishment. I feel no guilt and experience genuine pleasure as I root for real people who lay it on the line in front of God and a national television audience in an effort to reclaim control of at least one part of their life.

For me, that’s a beautiful thing.

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Filed under 21st Century America, Beauty, Exploitation, Guilty Pleasures, November 2011, Obesity, Reality TV, Schadenfreude, The Biggest Loser

Empty Nesters

It was two years ago, September. My wife, Yolanda, and I lay in bed talking before going to sleep. Our oldest child, Michael, was in his first weeks of college. He was out of the house and, to a certain degree, out of mind.

“You know,” Yolanda said, “this hasn’t been as tough as I thought. I mean, I miss Michael, but actually I’m OK. I feel guilty that I don’t feel worse.”

Now this is coming from a woman who, after we left Michael in his dorm (I’ll never forget my last image of Michael that day as he sat alone, fingers drumming the dorm desk, gazing out the window at the campus below) broke down in tears minutes later in a booth at a nearby restaurant.

“We should’ve made him come to lunch with us,” she said between sobs, “he has to be hungry.”

“Mom,” our daughter, Anissa, said sliding an arm over her shoulder, “he’ll find food. Look, you can see the dorm from here. He’s only a hundred yards away from a restaurant.”

Yolanda dabbed her tears. The three of us smiled, then laughed, reassured that with the school cafeteria and a number of restaurants and grocery stores within a mile of campus that Michael would find food and survive the day.

Of course Yolanda was not worried about Michael getting fed.  Nor was she, that night weeks later, saying she no longer thought about her son on a daily basis. She was just expressing the contradictory feelings that most parents encounter as our children leave home. In our case, the transition was eased by the fact that Anissa was with us for another two years before she scampered off to college. So it has only been the last ten weeks that Yolanda and I, along with our Sheltie, Sammy, have had the house to ourselves.

“How’s it going, you empty nesters?” folks say, eyebrows arched.

“Pretty good, overall,” I respond,  with a wink, “although Sammy misses the kids. Yolanda’s paying more attention to him since they left.  Plus, she’s speaking in Spanish to him. That’s never a good sign. Heck, in human years, the guy’s fifty some year’s old, I think he’d like his space.”

A bitter pill to swallow, but yes, even our dog wants some separation from us.

Some people deal with the empty nest transition better than others, with a few sinking into depression, experiencing a lost sense of purpose. There are miles of articles, advice columns, academic studies and even support groups available for parents to utilize in assisting them to navigate through this period of life.

I do not foresee such circumstances for Yolanda and I because we have raised our children to leave. That is, after all, one of the main objectives of this whole parenthood exercise. Sure, we miss them and sometimes wax nostalgic. But we know it is time for them to venture forth and for us as well.

“Honey,” I said to Yolanda that fall night two years ago, “you don’t feel bad because you know Michael is where he’s supposed to be, doing what he should be doing. He’s happy, you’re happy.”

Years ago, before the kids arrived on the scene, I watched reruns of the Andy Griffith Show on a regular basis. I particularly like the black and white version with Don Knotts. There are many hilarious scenes that come to mind. But one moment that has stayed with me occurs when Andy tells Aunt Bee that she should not feel compelled to marry a man she does not love because she thinks it will be best for Andy.  In Aunt Bee’s mind she is freeing Andy from what she sees as a burden: her presence.

Andy tells her: “Among folks that love each other, like we do, nothing can be best for us unless it’s best for you.”

Yolanda and I are empty nesters. Sometimes the house seems deserted.  Sammy may need therapy, or at least Spanish lessons, but he’ll survive. Our kids are content, so we are content. What’s best for them is best for us.

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Filed under 21st Century America, August 2011, Baby Boomers, Don Knotts, Empty Nesters, Family, November 2011, Sheltie Dogs, Situation Comedies, Small town America

Of Minivans and Memories

“Dad,” my eight year old daughter, Anissa, said, “are we ever going to return to civilization?”

It was August, 2001, a month before the world as Americans knew it changed forever. My wife, Yolanda, and I along with our two kids, Michael and Anissa, were speeding along in our tan Ford Windstar minivan on a two lane highway in North Dakota. On either side of us were endless miles of wheat and bright yellow sunflowers. Our only company farmers harvesting wheat, air-conditioned combines cruising effortlessly up and down the rolling hills. Their grain truck drivers, beds brimming with the golden harvest , tooted horns and gave us a wave.  I was grateful for their presence, knowing that if we broke down help would be quick in coming.

“Yep,” I reassured Anissa,  Yolanda and I smiling, “soon enough. So enjoy the view.”

I do not consider myself a car guy. I’ve never dreaded trading a car or longed for a certain type. We bought the Windstar new in 1998, but since then we’ve spent our money on a solid, if unexciting used Buick Century and a leg-room loving Lincoln Continental with 70,000 miles.  None of these cars evoke “zoom, zoom” excitement, yet get us from point A to point B relatively hassle free.

But it’s the Windstar that has stood us best. Over the years we’ve strapped a bulging canvas carrier to the top, loaded the back with suitcases, wedged a cooler in between the seats and taken off to see America.  Twice to the aforementioned Dakotas, the second time a few weeks before Michael went off to college. There was the summer we spent a week in Minnesota, one of the nicest family vacations ever, with a friend of mine whose father built a cabin for us to stay in. There was the trip to the Carolina’s with a couple of families, rolling the van off and on ferry’s, the kids thrilled to be “In a car, on a boat!” as we skipped the interstate and island hopped up the outer banks to Kitty Hawk, Jamestown, and into Washington D.C.

We trekked to Niagara Falls via Michigan and across Canada. Michael, new driver’s permit in his pocket, lead in his right foot, causing his nervous old man to shout: “It’s go time. HOLD ON!” as we barreled toward the back bumper of a car which had slowed to a crawl on a congested highway outside of Detroit.  One spring break we traveled to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, the Windstar stalling out on a steep grade, coasting into a driveway where we cranked her up and went on our way.   The longest journey we took was to South Padre Island, Texas, 3,000 miles roundtrip, the passage through a deserted King’s Ranch the desolate flip side of the fertile Dakotas.  Add to this soccer games, swim meets, football games, birthday parties, piano recitals, band concerts, weddings, first communions and graduations where we filled the Windstar with family and friends, enjoying their company and the ride as much as the events themselves.  With the kids in college, the Windstar has slipped into semi-retirement, rolled out for tailgating at Illinois games or hauling stuff home from the hardware store. Back seat removed, it’s like a pickup truck with a roof.

A week ago, Yolanda and I drove to Anissa’s college to bring her home for fall break. She asked us to bring a futon with us, so we bought one at Walmart, hoisted it into the back of the Windstar and headed out. On the way, however, the “Service Engine Light” glowed an ominous orange on the dashboard.

Yolanda and I exchanged uncertain looks.

“I don’t want anything to happen to my van,” she said. “Take it in as soon as we get home.”

The local shop we’ve used for years ran a diagnostic test and determined that in order to stop that orange light from shining we needed a part that would cost $500 plus labor.

“What happens if we don’t install it?” I asked. “The car has 153,000 miles on it and is probably worth $1,500. Will the engine be damaged? The orange light stay on?”

“You’re not gonna hurt anything except gas mileage. She may start rough, sometimes. That light’ll stay on, though. Lots of cars have been driven lots of miles with that light on. But, well, you know, it’s an old car.”

“That it is,” I said.

The next morning was Saturday. We were scheduled to drive to Normal for parents weekend with our son, do some tailgating, see a football game. A tailor-made trip for the Windstar, so we loaded her up and took off.

It was a sunny, crisp, college brochure picture of a day. We pulled the van into the last spot of a crowded lot, hauled out the grill, table, coolers and canvas chairs and left the hatchback open.  We met Michael’s girlfriend’s parents for the first time, grilled fajitas and drank beer. A buddy of mine from high school dropped by. We leaned against the Windstar and caught up with one another. It was a perfect day in every way. The home team even won. After the game we piled into the Winsdstar.

I glanced into the rear view mirror as we drove along the two lane highway that leads to our little town.  A now eighteen year old Anissa was asleep in the back, her face as untroubled as if she were still eight, snug and secure in the reclined seat.

Empty, harvested fields stretched across the horizon on either side. Winter approaching, the farmers are tending to their equipment in  machine sheds, already preparing for spring planting.

I patted Yolanda’s knee and we swapped smiles. I turned my attention to the open road and nudged the Windstar up to cruising speed, doing my best to ignore the orange light glowing from the dashboard.

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Filed under 21st Century America, Baby Boomers, Canada, Carolina Outer Bank, Family, Favorite Cars, Football, Friends, National Parks, Niagara Falls, November 2011, Road Trips, Small town America, South Padre Island

Morning Paper

The older I get the earlier I awake. If the trend continues, I ‘m concerned I might be rising at 4:00 a.m., eating supper by 3:00 p.m. and hitting the hay at 8:00. The jokes about senior citizens early bird dinner specials starting at mid-afternoon taking on a different, more practical meaning to me.

“You know,” I say to my wife, Yolanda, “and I’m not saying we’ll ever do this, but eating early kinda makes sense if you’re startin’ the day before dawn. I mean, think about the pioneers, Ben Franklin, early to bed, early to rise…all that jazz.”

“Iy, vato,” she says, slipping into Spanish when aggravated, “you’re staying awake with me until 10 to watch the news.  I’m not ready to live with an old man.”

Often, around 9:30, I’ll nudge her awake, both of us asleep on the couch and we’ll stumble upstairs to bed. With the hard-earned judgment of a man married for over twenty years, I make no comment about living with an “old woman.”

As was so often the case, Ben Franklin was correct regarding the pluses to rising early. I can write, check email, and take a soul-centering run through my silent, slumbering small town. It also allows time to read the morning paper while drinking a couple of cups of steaming coffee, two practices which Ben would approve. The solitary act of reading the newspaper gives me the chance to consider the news of the day at my pace with no hyperactive news anchors, flashing “ALERTS,” or gold commercials touting the end of the world. (Apparently a lock box filled with precious metal will, according to G. Gordon Liddy, make economic Armageddon more palatable since those of us with gold will yield a profit.)

A newspaper contains none of these distractions. We are in control of the process, interacting with a newspaper in ways we do not with other media. We read what we choose, lingering over an article or ad that catches our attention, scanning past those that do not.  We separate the thin pages with our fingertips, smell the “fresh off the press” scent, hear the snap, crackle, pop as we crisply fold it to the shape we desire.

Of course, not everyone has time to read the paper in the morning or has delivery available. When I lived in downtown Chicago and rode the El to work I purchased the Chicago Sun-Times at a newspaper stand. I chose the Sun-Times not because I thought it was a better paper than the Tribune, but for its tabloid design which made it easier to read on a crowded train. When Yolanda and I lived in Dallas and drove to work, dropping the kids off at daycare along the way, there was no time to read the Dallas Morning News.  Busy with two toddlers up to bed time, we never woke up any earlier than necessary. So I’d read the paper on my lunch break as I munched on a sandwich.

Newspaper readers also have the choice to prioritize sections per individual tastes. Supreme Court Chief Justice Earl Warren famously said: “I always turn to the sports page first, which records people’s accomplishments. The front page has nothing but man’s failures.”

As a sports fan, and a person who grows weary of what seems to be an increasingly dysfunctional world, I enjoy the sports page as well. The Champaign-Urbana based News-Gazette, our daily, has one of the best. But I save sports for last. First, because for me, like Earl Warren, it is the most entertaining and satisfying section so I savor it like dessert. Second, and more practically, Yolanda and I share a love of the morning paper. Since I rise about an hour before her, there is usually no conflict. But to preserve early morning peace I read the hard news, editorial and local sections before she comes downstairs. These are Yolanda’s favorites and she pours over them like she’s preparing for the bar exam, mumbling in Spanish when, you guessed it, she disagrees with a point of view offered in a column or editorial.

The other section I make sure to look through is the obituaries. Some may think this macabre, but for me the obits are similar to the sport section because they highlight an individual’s accomplishments. Even more so, they provide insight into the deceased’s life by recording lineage, loves, and passions. This is particularly interesting when the individual has lived a long and productive life. The list of parents, spouse, children and siblings go on for paragraphs followed by the place of birth and a recounting of a life from childhood to death. Even in the tragedy of a life cut short, there is always a paragraph or two about the individual’s love of family, friends, music, reading, model trains, doll houses, school or any number of passions. You certainly will never learn such personal things by listening to brief obits on the local radio station.

No, it is only the newspaper which gives us the breadth and depth of coverage we need to digest local, national and international events. From coverage of local bake sales to the machinations of an international economy, from high school softball scores to the Olympics, from the death of a fellow you knew as Frederick, but his friends called “Spud,” the newspaper covers it all.

Most importantly, for an “old man” like me, I don’t have to stay up until 10:00 p.m. to learn about it all.

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Filed under 21st Century America, Family, Newspaper, October 2011, Running, Small town America, Sports page

Fifty-Fifty

“When you turn fifty,” one of my friends told me on my birthday two weeks ago, “you have more days behind you than ahead. That’s the reality, not fifty-fifty like some people like to think.”

And “Happy Birthday” to you too.

While he might have saved that Eeyore like insight for another day, my friend is correct.  The odds of a 50-year-old living to 100 are 1 in 37.  Although my paternal grandmother made it to ninety-seven and my father might have lived just as long were it not for a three pack a day smoking habit (the genes on that side of the family are stout) it is doubtful I will see my 100th birthday.  Although I share those genes and my mother lived into her early 80’s, from an actuarial perspective, it’s unlikely. That’s nothing to beat myself up about.  Not too many folks become centenarians.  Certainly I try to take care of myself. I am no longer much of a drinker, but I’ve had more than my share of booze over the years, like to smoke a cigar a couple times a month and other than a bowl of oatmeal each morning I eat whatever I feel like.  Not thinking that adds up to a 100 year life span.

So I concede my friend’s point. The end is closer than the beginning. Perhaps that is why, at fifty, we tend to take stock of ourselves more than other milestone birthdays.

On the plus side, I am very much in love with my wife, have two great kids, enjoy my day job and the people I work with and am able to express my creativity through writing. I enjoy good relations with my brothers, sisters, in-laws and have a wealth of friends, fellow parishioners and neighbors.  I live in a small town that allows me to not have to get in a car every time I want to do something. I walk to work, church, the post office and the American Legion for the occasional whiskey shot and cold beer. Once in a while after Saturday night Mass I combine my taste for booze, ability to walk and the practicing of my faith and stop at the Legion for a drink on the way home. How nice is that?

Physically, I’m in good shape.  At 6-2 and 180, I’m where I need to be height and weight wise. However, I have a cranky back as the result of an injury in my mid-thirties which caused two bulging discs to press on my sciatic nerve and caused considerable pain. Through physical therapy I avoided surgery and have had minimal problems since.  Last  year I was diagnosed with early stages of hip impingement (the ball joint of my leg is rubbing against the socket and will likely require surgery in the future.) It causes stiffness, not pain, and I do exercises every day to strengthen my abdominal and upper leg muscles, thus relieving the stress on the joints.  Every third day, I run three miles at an eight and a half-minute per mile pace. Certainly not fast enough to win my age group in a 5k, but better than most 50-year-old males I suspect.

As for stress, I confess to a lesser amount now that both kids are in college. Out of sight, out of mind in regard to worrying about them certainly holds true.  That, and the fact that my wife, Yolanda, and I know they are where they should be at this stage of their lives and are happy, makes for content parents. Probably my biggest concern is in regard to this country’s economic future. A concern that many folks carry these days.  While I’m employed with an income that provides for my family’s needs, I come in contact with hard-working people every day who cannot say the same. Economic well-being is not something I ever, or have ever, taken for granted, but what disturbs me about our current state of affairs is the lack of confidence in the future.  I have not encountered this among folks from so many walks of life as I have the last few years.

I wonder myself what life may be like when Yolanda and I can no longer work and our bodies start to fail us.  It seems that every time you pick up the paper another societal institution is crumbling down upon the individuals who supported it. Our national psyche is unsettled, too many Americans are living in fear, and without a dramatic change in the near future this may become what some economic forecasters call the “new normal.” If so, who wants to live to be 100 anyway?

That all said, I sleep well at night. Perhaps it’s because I was raised by two people who survived the Great Depression and WWII and they taught me to take care of what I can, turn the rest over to God and do my best to enjoy the day.  Let’s face it, life is a crapshoot.  How we all happened to be here to begin with still a subject of debate.

So, in response to my friend, yeah, I’m no actuary, but  I get it.  Sure, it’s unlikely that I will make 100  But as I sit  here on my screen porch with our Sheltie, Sammy, I’m OK with that.  The sun is shining and a soft breeze is blowing as I write. With rustling fall leaves signalling their approach, a friend and his three-year-old son, our God son, walk by and wave.  They’ll be over for supper later. I’ve got a pork roast in the smoker and Yolanda is making potato salad.  We’ll visit, eat, have a couple of beers, Yolanda will play in the leaves with our God son and we’ll watch the sunset on the screen porch.

Like everybody else, I have no idea what the future holds or whether I’ve lived more days on this earth than not. But in this moment, in this place,  I do know the odds that today is going to be a great day are better than fifty-fifty.  That’s good enough for me.

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Filed under 21st Century America, 50th Birthday, 5K Races, Baby Boomers, Economics, Family, Friends, Greatest Generation, Institutions, October 2011, Running