Wednesday, April 19, 2017

It Is Not Old If It Is New To You...

Once upon a lifetime ago, most particularly in the era noted in the annals as "B.M." ("Before Margaret"), I was every bit of the asshole that I am now.  Truth be told, I was actually more of one then than I am now, in no small part due to my preferred method of self-medication for all of life's ills, which was the relentless consumption of my body weight in alcohol.  Being the son of a fully-functional drunk and being that father's son gave me all the leg up I needed to seamlessly carry on that particular family tradition.  While living through it, I paid little mind to whether it served me well - although the collateral damage through which I waded on my day-to-day suggested that it had not.  Once I was able to view that part of my life through the rear-view mirror, the wreckage became more readily defined. 

The decision to no longer quench the demons that occupy prime real estate in my head in an alcohol fire, while laudable on some level I suppose, did little to quiet them.  It merely pointed out the need for an alternative, perhaps even a holistic, cure.  From that small thing has this thing come.  Nothing more or less, I reckon, than the (usually) daily wrestling match...for nine years.  In case you missed it, what follows is a reprint of how and when this all began.  Written at a time so long ago that my son was still in college in New York City (his senior year at John Jay College of Criminal Justice), Margaret's grandmother, Nanny, and her mother, the immortal Suzy B., were both still alive, cancer had not yet declared war on my sister, and I had neither left nor returned to the Firm.  

I suppose that this proves - if nothing else - that Jerry Garcia was right all along.  It really has been a long, strange trip...

...and through it all the dog has always walked just like he was smiling.


Man on a Tractor with a Dog in a Field

It's Saturday morning and once upon a time - though never in my professional life - Saturday was 1/2 of the "weekend", presumably meaning it was time spent away from work. For me, not so much. Whether by choice or necessity, my available options for generating sufficient income to support my family are limited to....well, pretty much what I do now and nothing else. I was reminded again last night watching the end-of-series handshake as my beloved Rangers vanquished the Devils in the 1st round of the NHL playoffs of what my mom told me when I was a boy - I'd never play in the NHL unless I learned how to skate on something other than double runners. I never did and so in spite of the natural openings in the Rangers lineup thru the years upon the retirements of Rod Gilbert, Wayne Gretzky and Mark Messier, no phone call. It's ok though b/c I've been mad at Emile Francis for about 30 years anyway for trading Eddie Giacomin....

I'm the youngest of six. That strikes me as a humorous way for a 41 y/o husband and father of 2 college-age kids to describe himself but then again I have older siblings who still refer to me as either their "little" or "baby" brother. History really does exist in the eye of the teller I suppose.

Technically speaking I reckon today represents the end of this week and what a week it was. Professionally I've had better weeks. As a lawyer you sometimes end up in a spot where a client ignores the advice for which they're paying you b/c (much like most of us I suppose) they don't want to hear bad news and then when they get hit square in the face with the proverbial creme pie of bad news they scream at you for allegedly not telling them to duck. I landed squarely in such a spot this week and while it'll likely be a spot more akin to a gravy stain than a blood stain - it'll never leave that plain white t-shirt altogether but it'll fade to an almost imperceptible level over time as opposed to destroying the article of clothing completely - for present purposes I can see it and smell it clearly.

Personally though it was a hell of a good week. I did something that I've spent far too little doing his entire life - spent quality time just hanging out with my 22 y/o son Rob. He's finishing up his final semester of college - living, working and going to school in NYC. Wednesday night (coincidentally the same day of the week as the aforementioned gravy stain assumed its presently prominent position on the collar of my t-shirt) I went into the city and he/I went to watch the Yankees/Red Sox at the Stadium. It was a hell of a good evening - noteworthy really for its complete absence of a big event during it. We just sat in the LF bleachers and watched baseball together. We spent the night just watching the game and talking.

It's fascinating to me as a parent to see how a child is no longer a "child". The maturity both of my kids demonstrate clearly is a trait passed along maternally. Basically, upon graduating this Spring he's off into the working world and while he's still uncertain whether he's going to start out somewhere fairly close to home (such as D.C.) or somewhere not so close (such as the Southwestern U.S.), we all know he's going to be moving "away". It occurred to me not too long ago that but for the brief period of time between graduation and commencement of the 1st professional stop when he'll be living home (at the 'rents in NJ) he'll likely never live home again. It hit me that when I wasn't looking, my life has morphed into a Harry Chapin moment. "Cats in the Cradle" anyone?

The title for this little missive is lifted verbatim from a song by a country artist, Rodney Atkins, who my wife Margaret and I saw perform in May 2007 at Carnegie Hall (how'd he get there - practice, practice, practice of course....we simply took NJ Transit into Penn Station and then an Uptown Train) as the opener for Martina McBride. It's a great little tune preaching a simple lesson or two- spend more time cherishing what you have and less time worrying about what someone else has. Happiness is how you define it - not how anyone else does.

Like the eldest of my siblings, my oldest brother Bill, I am an enormous Bruce Springsteen fan. I'm excited that this time next week Margaret, Rob and I are going to be in North Carolina getting ready to see him/E Street Band play in Charlotte - a trip made possible by a friend's incredible generosity. I'm saddened though by the fact that Danny Federici, an original E Streeter and Bruce's friend and band mate of 40 years lost his battle with his particular form of cancer on the 17th. 

Daniel Patrick Moynihan was right when he said, "I don't think there's any point in being Irish if you don't know the world is going to break your heart."

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