Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Tiger's Tale

For as long as I can remember, our father called Jill "Tiger".  What stands out about that nickname in my mind's eye is that until Kara, Jill, and "Chuck" matriculated to Wardlaw-Hartridge for the 1977-78 school year, at which time each of us began playing interscholastic sports, Jill had never played in a single competitive athletic event.  

It was as if Dad, alone, knew something about Jill.  Something to which the world in which she roamed as an eleven-year-old girl had yet to be exposed, which was that she possesses an unquenchable competitive spirit.  Back in the day, when we were kids at W-H, her "Tiger" mentality and her own natural athletic prowess enabled her to attain remarkable things, both individually and for the various teams she captained.  An argument can be made that no sobriquet has more aptly applied to its bearer than "Tiger" to Jill.  

Childhood was a long, long time ago.  It exists now only in memories and in some weathered, dog-eared photographs.  Yet, "Tiger" remains "Tiger".  In a contest with stakes considerably higher than any field hockey game or lacrosse game in which she even played (even the State Championship games), Jill is still "Tiger".  The next backwards step she takes will be the first one she has ever taken.  She packs a stunning amount of courage in a frame so diminutive that she has no "sideways".  If I was inclined to do such things, then I would pray that in my next life I proved to be half as brave as she is in this one. 

I earn my daily bread fixing things.  The people and entities I represent I meet "post screw-up" so the task at hand is not necessarily preventing them from doing something stupid but, rather, minimizing the fall-out from the mistake that brought them to me and, whenever possible, eradicating the mistake in its entirety.  Everyone has a particular skill set, I reckon.  For better or for worse, this is mine. 

Yet, my success rate is not 100%.  Far from it.  Those things that I cannot fix haunt me.  Those problems I cannot solve torment me.  Some more profoundly than others.  Some, I know already, will do so for the rest of my life. 

"Tiger" adds another stripe today.  I would give up the exact number but (as I was reminded this past November at the New York City Marathon) I cannot outrun her - nor would I even if I could.  

2017 NYC Marathon
Finishers' Photo

I hope that today she has the birthday that she deserves.  Even more than that, I hope that we have many, many more years in which I remain unable to outrun her.   Nothing would make me happier.

Happy Birthday, Wilma - love you much. 


Saturday, January 6, 2018

Yet Again, Once More...

The Franchise is eight months old today.  2017 was a brutal year, unabated, from start to finish.  In a year where not too many rays of light shone bright enough to guide the journey, she was singularly so.  She is an extraordinary little girl who makes her parents' hearts happy every day - and who works similar magic for her Nana and Pop Pop.

2017's bad mojo has continued, uninterrupted, in the early days of 2018.  This morning, a wonderful family shall gather to bid their mother and matriarch farewell - at the far-too-young age of sixty-six.  It has been my pleasure and privilege to know Walmis Garcia Navas for more than two decades. She is married to one of my few friends, Diego Navas, with whom I graduated from law school in the early 1990's.  His affinity for the Boston Red Sox notwithstanding (and his choice in friends - one in particular - notwithstanding), Diego is one hell of a good man.  His bride, Walmis, is his equal in every respect.  They are a couple who compliments each other and their two boys, Diego and Daniel, are every inch their parents' children.  

To my memory, I only met her mom, Eloina Garcia, on one or two occasions.  Knowing Walmis for as long as I have and as well as I do, I have an implicit understanding of just how fine a person Mrs. Garcia was.  There is something to be said for the old saw about "apples and trees".  It holds true far more often than you might realize.

It saddens me that my friend and her family, including her dad and her sister, shall have to spend a portion of the first Saturday of this year burying her mom.  It infuriates me that there is nothing to do or to say that shall make this terrible day and the terrible ones that shall follow it any less so for them.  

I wish that was not the case.


Friday, January 5, 2018

Rocks and Roles

Twenty years now 
Where'd they go?
Twenty years, 
I don't know.
Sit and I wonder sometimes 
Where they've gone...

On January 5, 1998, I entered the Firm's offices as an employee for the first time.  Since then, the Firm has changed its address and, this time last year, it changed its name. For a brief period of time, just about a decade ago, I changed my address as well.  Yet, this morning when the alarm goes off and I hop into my car and drive north up Route 287, I shall park it and exit it in the lot of an employer to whom I have now devoted 40% of my life.  To what end?  

A rhetorical question, to be clear, but one to which I do not know the answer.  Perhaps, therefore, its rhetorical nature is a necessary invention.  Perhaps. 

Perhaps it is a question to which I shall figure out the answer by the time I complete my fortieth year here in early January, 2038.  

Here is to hoping it does not take nearly that long.

And sometimes late at night,
When I'm bathed in the firelight
The moon comes callin' a ghostly white,
and I recall,
I recall...


Thursday, January 4, 2018

Taking of the Fifth

I first wrote about a rather extraordinary and inspirational young man, Vic Wise, in this space, slightly less than four years ago as he prepared for his first Freedom Ruck.  Clearly intoxicated by the good press he garnered in this opinion-fixing corner of Al Gore's Interweb, his Freedom Ruck has become an annual rite of January.  Its fifth edition is scheduled to begin tomorrow morning at 7:30 a.m.  All kidding aside, a myriad of excellent reasons exist why Vic Wise and his band of merry men each strap on a fifty-pound rucksack and walk one hundred miles through Virginia in January.  Seeing his name written here is most assuredly not among them.  

I suspect - although I doubt he himself has ever considered it - that among the reasons he does what he does every January - hoofing it through the Virginia countryside in temperatures that range all the way from bitterly cold to "What the f*ck am I doing outside in this?", is because he does not and cannot accept doing nothing as opposed to doing something to help those who place themselves in harm's way for all of us.  

If you are positioned financially so that you can assist in Freedom Ruck's fundraising efforts, then I would encourage you to do so here.  Whether you can or not, keep a good thought this weekend for Vic Wise and his band of Merry Ruckers.  They have earned it.  

Hell, they earn it every day.

Freedom Ruck 2016 Finish at
Arlington National Cemetery 


Monday, January 1, 2018

Marching Orders

Happy New Year! 

Now, go spend the rest of 2018's first day doing something more worthwhile than spending time here. 


Sunday, December 31, 2017

A Simple Man's Lucky Draw

It is fortunate for me, I suppose, as this year bids us farewell that I am a simple man.  Not so simple as to see the world in shades of black and white.  I said "simple", not "simpleton" after all.  Simple though in the sense that the world is - for me - occupied by three separate and distinct groups of people. 

The largest of the three groups is populated by most of the planet.  It is comprised of people towards whom I am entirely apathetic.  I spend very little time (and if I was a better person I suppose I would spend none at all) wishing anyone else ill.  That being said, I cannot and do not pretend to have a rooting interest in all of the world's inhabitants.  I root neither for them nor against them.  Their existence is to me - as I presume and as I strive to make my continuing existence to them - a non-issue.  I do not now subscribe to - nor have I ever subscribed to - the theory that strangers are merely friends I have not met yet.  Rather, I do what I can to keep the world at arm's length, which arrangement has served me well and, truth be told, has not yet engendered a complaint from the world in more than a half-century!  

The second group is significantly smaller than the first, and its existence is directly related to the even smaller third group.  The second group is comprised of those who have consciously and willfully injured someone who I love.  I care little about those who take a direct shot at me.  Being soulless makes the absorption of such blows essentially painless, which is why I pride myself on the fact that as I have aged - and have spent less and less time attempting to consume my body weight in alcohol - my ability to allow such a direct attack to pass without comment has improved markedly.  That being said, an unwarranted attack on someone I love most of all on this planet (Spoiler Alert: The Third Group) unleashes my inner wolverine.  Here, too, being soulless is a wonderful tool to possess.  I am an irredeemable, unrepentant asshole, which makes me an excellent finisher.

My third and final group of fellow Earth inhabitants is comprised of those people who I love most of all.  In this group, first and foremost, is my wife.  Margaret is the great miracle of my life because, unlike me, she possesses a beautiful heart and a glorious soul and, unlike me, she is not an irredeemable, unrepentant asshole.  She is, in fact, the opposite.  It makes her a bit more prone to feeling the slings and arrows when someone wrongs her.  We live in a world where people hang the word "sensitive" on another as if it is a millstone.  It is not and it should not be viewed as such.  My wife is a sensitive soul, which is one of her many gifts.  

One of my favorite "more-recent" songs in Springsteen's catalog is Land of Hope and Dreams.  At its center, it is a love song, and the story it tells is one that I hope all of us has the chance to experience at least once before we trip that mortal coil and bid this life goodbye.  Springsteen sings of the need for "a good companion for this part of the ride".  More than a quarter-century ago, mine found me.  And once she did, she never let go.  

And that has, as they say, made all the difference...

Good bye and good riddance, 2017.  See you on the other side...


Saturday, December 30, 2017

A Joke Told By A Fool

We have arrived at 2017's penultimate day.  I, for one, shall not mourn the transition this year makes from present to past tense.  Far too many unringable bells have been rung this year.  Far too many.  

Some were rung involuntarily.  Others were rung by deliberate design.  The echo of each, however long it may last, shall eventually become inaudible.  Life is, after all, a forward-moving exercise.   

The longer the journey, the fainter the echo.  As a wise man once observed, "Now there's so much that time, time and memory fade away..."

Here is to hoping he is right...