Thursday, June 30, 2016

One Last & Glorious Day of Unfettered Freedom

Today is my last day of complete release.

I begin the new part time job tomorrow. Five hours. Noon to 5:00. Then I have Saturday, Sunday and Monday off.


I have been out of work one month today. One month.

Without a doubt one of the most amazing months of my life. I did what I wanted to do when I wanted to do it and how I wanted to do it.

I sat in the sun, man - I sat in the sun and reflected. At least on those June days that did not feel like January.

I am physically and mentally relaxed. I even got smarter, although you would never know it.

Keith and Emily gave me an Amazon gift card for Fathers Day. I used it to buy magic. Keith Richards' latest solo album, "Crosseyed Heart", and a Crosby/Nash album from 2004.

Got Cros and Nash on right now. They make exquisitely beautiful music together. It is a perfect sound track for this day.

I sit here grateful for this month I just had ("I'm feeling pretty good about myself" - Cros and Nash just sang that as I was writing - tell me there is no synchronicity in this world - I am feeling better about myself right now than I have in decades), I sit here grateful for the position that I am in - retired with a new life and a new world in front of me.

It has begun. I read a lot, I studied, I thought, I listened to music, I exercised, I took excellent care of my loving wife - I allowed my soul to heal and then set about writing a blueprint for change.

I am not melancholy today.

Tomorrow begins a new chapter and I am ready. I work Tuesday through Friday five hours a day. Three day weekends every weekend. I don't have to be in to work until 1:45 every day. Leaves me mornings to continue chipping away at myself. This is not overwhelming. It will force me to focus a little more on what I want to get done.

Today is gorgeous. I am listening to gorgeous music. I feel light. I have felt light for a full month now.

I have thought a lot about who I am, the good parts and the bad parts. The "good" thing alone signals a major shift in thinking and awareness - I usually focus on the bad. I have a lot of good qualities, a lot of great qualities, qualities that draw people to me, qualities unique to me that will allow me to contribute something meaningful to this world and to my life.

On my last day of work many of my co-workers hugged me, many said meaningful things to me and the goodbyes and good lucks were heartfelt. Many customers signed my retirement card; many said cool things about me.

This has happened to me before and I let it slide right past me. This time I took notice.

I have thought about the mistakes I have made, mistakes I refuse to repeat (again).

I did not waste this month and I feel good about that. I overcame 62 years of inertia and began moving in the right direction.

I am a lucky son of a bitch, I know it, and I will not waste this opportunity.

I am not wasting this opportunity.

Wednesday, June 29, 2016


Sam was five hours out of New York City and in desperate need of a pit stop.

He had consumed eight frosty cold, amazingly delicious and satisfying beers in that time out of the NASCAR -sticker covered cooler sitting next to him on the seat, and although his driving skills were not impaired his bladder control was.

Sam was proud of the amount of beer he could hold and snickered at all the pansies who couldn't last more than three of four beers before having to run to the little girls room.

Eight beers was pushing it, though.

He also could not respect a man who could not hold his whiskey.

Sam believed there were only two desirably evil drinks in the world - whiskey and tequila. Everything else was for losers.

He loved his whiskey and drank any brand any time anywhere. His preference was Crown Royal but he did not often have the spare change necessary to afford a premium drink like that, so he took what he got and never once grimaced as it burned its way down.

Tequila was for special occasions. Sam called it liquid heroin and for good reason. Every time he drank it he woke up on a bathroom floor with an anonymous pair of panties wrapped around his head.

Which was not necessarily a bad thing. It's just that he could never remember who he was with or what he had done; didn't even know for sure if he had a good time. And the hangovers were a bitch.

Anyway, Sam was looking at another lost job in his rear view mirror. Fired again.  If Sam had any kind of career at all it was the profession of getting fired. He was good at it.

What he wasn't good at was dealing with authority. Bosses really pissed him off because he always felt he was smarter than they were and he also felt like they were shitting on him all the time.

He dropped out of school in the tenth grade and figured out pretty quick that if people did not see him as smart they damn well better see him as tough. This was a challenge he accepted with enthusiasm. He is the kind of guy you take one look at and immediately look away from. His attitude, his body language, his cold, emotionless eyes - all of these things combine to send one message: "You do not want to fuck with me."

Most people don't.

He was doing carpentry work in the city and sleeping on the couch in a friend's apartment. He kicked in as much rent money as he could afford, but the truth was he pissed away most of his money on booze, and any stray, judgment impaired and desperate woman who would have him. This put a heavy strain on his friendship, which was at the breaking point when he got fired.

So maybe losing the job was a good thing.

He was an hour and a half out of Berlin, NH where he had some "friends" who would give him a place to crash for a while. Sam's definition of the word friend was kind of loose. He could talk, or bully, his way into and out of just about any situation. Anybody who didn't end up throwing punches or calling the cops was a friend.

Berlin was just fine with Sam; it was out of the way anonymous, quiet, and a cheap place to live. He could lay low here for a while, pick up some random carpentry work and glide by just under the radar.

But first things first.

He had to go.

He pulled off in Tilton, a nothing kind of place, and immediately came across a McDonald's.

Sam hated McDonald's; they were so fucking low rent. He would take an out of the way, run down diner any day - he felt comfortable there. But right now he had no choice; it was do or die time as far as making it to a bathroom.

He whipped the big glass door open and walked rapidly towards the bathroom as a nerdy little wimp behind the counter said "Excuse me sir - excuse me!"

Sam ignored him, made it to the bathroom and did what he came here to do.

As Sam walked towards the exit, the nerdy little wimp said "Excuse me!" again - he was new and was trying to impress his new boss, a guy who really didn't care if the kid lived or died. The same boss who was out back running his hand across the ass of his favorite 18 year old employee; a girl who really needed the job.

Sam stopped short and slowly turned around. He stared at the kid, who began to tremble a bit but stupidly went on to say "If you are going to use the bathroom you are going to have to purchase something."

To which Sam replied "Is that right?"

He walked up to the counter and ordered a small hot coffee, paid for it and walked over to another counter where he dumped in three sugars, two creams and slowly stirred it all up.

A woman with a five year old boy beside her had moved up to the counter and was giving the nerdy little wimp their order.

Sam walked over ever so slowly, and elbowed the woman out of the way. She started to give him shit but he turned around and looked her right in the eye - she stopped short, mid sentence.

Sam turned back to the counter, raised the paper cup three inches off the surface and began to dump the coffee out, moving left to right for about two feet across the counter.

When the cup was empty he crumpled it up and threw it in nerdy little wimp's face, growling: "Have a nice day, kid."

The five year old was crying loudly as Sam turned and walked out the door.

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Republicans Suck - Reason # 685

The Senate shot down four gun control proposals this week in an attempt to keep this country's citizens vulnerable and, more importantly, to appease the NRA - the true power behind the spineless people who represent us; the same people who are bought and paid for.

Hey - that was a pretty good opening sentence - it really got my attention.

The first proposal was a republican one - it would have required states to add more information on mental health records to a national database, relative to background checks.

This is one of the positions republicans consistently retreat to when questions of gun control come around. Typical and predictable smoke screen. Mentally deranged people do commit crimes but not every deranged person has been diagnosed. There are a lot of screwed up people in this country, hate filled, violent people who own guns and are one step away from killing innocent people to express their hatred.

Interesting that republicans cannot get their own proposals approved, given that they control the Senate as well as the House.

republicans suck.

The second proposal was sponsored by democrats looking to expand the background check system to require checks at gun shows and for online purchases. This defeat was no surprise - the NRA, ah, I mean republicans, do not want to make it harder to buy guns. Jesus Christ, that would negatively impact the bottom line of the NRA.

Please note - the NRA gets the bulk of its money from contributions, grants, royalty income, and advertising - much of it originating from the gun industry. They then use that money to buy politicians, I mean sponsor anti gun control measures (regardless of how many innocent people die.)

The third proposal was sponsored by republicans. It focused on delaying gun sales to people included on a government terror watch list.

Again, republicans could not even get their own proposal approved.

The fourth proposal was sponsored by democrats - an attempt to bar all gun sales to people on the terror watch list.

republicans cannot support that, God forbid - it is important that every terrorist have equal access to assault weapons. After all, how else could they maximize the number of innocent people that they kill?

A random thought - is it possible that some republicans sponsor gun control legislation as a show and then vote against it? That way they pretend to be outraged about mass shootings while simultaneously avoiding pissing off the NRA?

On Wednesday, democrats staged a sit in on the floor of the House of Representatives, in an attempt to force a vote on gun control and to publicize the fact that republicans steadfastly refuse to support any proposal that would limit gun sales and save lives.

Because the NRA is so powerful - meaning they donate large sums of money to republican re-election campaigns.

Speaker of the House Paul Ryan decided to dismiss representatives two days early for their precious fourth of July break (which ends up being about a week and a half - how many days do you get off for the fourth?), after calling the sit-in a publicity stunt.

republicans shut down the entire government  for 15 days in 2013 when they didn't get the budget they wanted, threatening the delay of paychecks for military people, and the delay of social security payments, among other very critical things.

A move with much more far reaching and dire consequences than sitting on the house floor.

Of course that was not a publicity stunt - that was an intelligent, moral and intelligent use of political representation.

This is what I despise about republicans - they hide behind lies, they create diversions and they pretend to be something they are not.

When it comes to gun control they are bought and paid for by the NRA. Period. And they don't give a damn about the loss of innocent lives and the families that are destroyed as a consequence.

republicans suck.

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Cleveland Rocks! Cleveland Rocks!

I'm not sure about LeBron but I am happy for Cleveland.

It is cathartic for a city to win a championship, especially after a long drought.

First championship in Cleveland since 1964. The Browns won the NFL title in 1964, led by legendary running back and one of my inspirations - Jim Brown. This was three years before the first Super Bowl; that's how far back it goes.

I don't enjoy having Jim Brown's name associated with LeBron's.

Jim Brown was a god - in an understated, I do my talking on the field kind of way. He was not a loudmouth. He projected a personality that was tough and cool - you did not fuck around with Jim Brown.

I remember how he got up so slowly off the ground after being tackled; he looked ultra cool. He said he did it to conserve energy.

I loved to watch him blow through guys trying to tackle him, carrying other would be tacklers along with him. He was a monster, a machine - he was feared by defenses throughout the league.

As I have said 14 million times in here - he is my first football memory.

LeBron is too aware of himself, too self promotional - he has openly said that he is the greatest basketball player in the world.

Maybe, as I think about this, maybe it is a matter of degrees or approach. Muhammad Ali called himself the greatest and I loved him for it. But he had a sense of humor and a likeability about him that was irresistible.

LeBron takes himself too seriously.

Anyway I am happy for Cleveland. A city wraps its soul around its sports teams. People live and die with their sports teams.

Sports offer a passionate escape for everything that ails you, whether you are digging a great game or enduring another loss - at least you feel alive and are able to forget about the more disappointing details of your life.

Over one million people attended the Cavaliers' victory parade this past week. One million people who got to yell and scream and cut loose and just let their freak flags fly. I'm sure there were a hell of a lot of hangovers on Thursday and why not? People need and deserve a reason to celebrate - a few dead brain cells is not too big a sacrifice to make.

I love the fact over 5,000 Cleveland fans have started a facebook page planning a victory parade for the Cleveland Indians. It will take place from 3:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. on November 3, 2016.

This is so cool. The Indians have not won the World Series since 1948. I love the fact that Cleveland fans are trying to keep the ball rolling, trying to keep the vibe alive.

And why not? Working for a living is a pain in the ass. Celebrating championships is a little slice of ecstasy, baby.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

A Ragged Commute

Spent Tuesday night with my brother in Massachusetts.

He and I went to dinner to support a fund raising event for Symphony Pro Musica - the magnificent orchestra that Ed is a part of. You really should check them out - Marlboro, MA - they are better than that Justin Bieber stuff you are always listening to.

Anyway, had the best goddamn dinner I have ever had in the history of my life. Or something quite like it.

Steak tips piled on top of a mini mountain of garlic mashed potatoes which themselves are sitting on a layer of blue cheese. Complemented with a delicious sauce to rub the food around in.

I would eat this every day for the rest of my life, given the opportunity.

Washed it all down with a ginormous Sam Summer draught. Christ, eating and drinking is fun.

Unfortunately the fund raiser was a bust. They were hoping for 40 or 50 people.

There were four - me and Ed, and Cynthia (a non stop talker) and her 94 year old mom. Pretty disappointing.

If I live to be 94 (God forbid, say Keith and Craig) - I refuse to be a hood ornament. You know, the kind the kids take out to dinner. They talk about you to other people like you're not even there. And anytime anybody pays you attention you give them that goofy, vacant smile.

Screw that. I'd rather be the foul mouthed, whiskey drinking, misbehaving, embarrass the kids in public kind of fossil.

Anyway, the meal was exquisite, Ed and I enjoyed good conversation (after Cynthia left - fortunately she and mom had already eaten when we got there so she didn't take up too much of our air), then we repaired to his pad to watch The Sox and shoot the shit.

I consider it a special thing to have a brother I am so close to. We talk about a lot of stuff (and laugh a lot) and even though we are not always on the same wavelength on every issue, it is comforting to be in the company of somebody you trust and love implicitly.

I spent the night on his comfortable black leather couch, had a light breakfast in the morning and hit the road around 8:45.

I was held up no less than four times on the way home because of construction - FOUR.

495 north kicked it all off, which is no surprise. Seems like every time I spend the night at Ed's the goddamn highway is backed up when I leave. For a couple of miles before my exit I was moving at 35 mph - for the last mile it was 20.

Got slowed down three more times on the peaceful back roads heading north, which kind of surprised me. The last one was a detour at the end of which I took a wrong turn. I realized it right away and only lost ten minutes but by this point I was pissed.

My peaceful, beautiful ride had turned into aggravation city. AND it was goddamn cold. I eventually had to close my windows.

This is summer, right?

By the time I got home it was raining like crazy, dark and overcast. I had to turn the heat on in the house.

The ride home was such a contrast to the ride down. Tuesday was gorgeous and I was in that "digging the moment" awareness type thing. Looking around, taking it all in, so relaxed all anxiety drained away.

My mind and soul were shocked.

I am a superstitious guy. I read things into things.

I had a job interview yesterday at 2:00. Getting there on time was not a problem - I was home at eleven. But I did not like the vibe that had built up over the two hour drive home. I was imagining bad things.

To top it off I killed a chipmunk when I got to Henniker. As I came around a bend the little dude was sitting upright right in the middle of my lane. I held my breath as The Big Ride coasted over him.

Unfortunately he decided to chance a move to the right and ended up under my right rear tire.

That thump was the clincher. I figured I would never get the job and should probably just stay home drinking whiskey and banging my head against the wall.

I don't know why the man above gives me the hardest road.

The Interview

The interview went beautifully.

I am an excellent interviewer (translated: bullshitter.) I am personable, reasonably intelligent and can talk a good game.

Although this time around no bullshit was required.

Quick aside: Only one person in my entire life had the guts to call me out on my interview performance. Good old Ken McGuckin. Trust me, I am Al Pacino in an interview situation.

Ken interviewed me and hired me for an accounting position at Chubb Life. Then I went ahead and turned in my usual half-assed effort because I hated accounting so very deeply.

I was in his office one day and he said to me: "You know, you are much better at interviewing than you are at being an accountant."

I loved it. He was dead on right.

Anyway, the job is with OutFITters, a store that sells thrift clothes, used furniture and other stuff. It is a cashier/retail associate job.

I know, I know - you are asking "What the hell are you doing? I thought you hated retail? I thought you said you would never wait on another person again? Are you soft in the head?"

Hear me out.

I have to work part time to supplement my social security checks. I got no problem with that. Part time is much better than full time, baby.

A few things are important to me in retirement. I do not want to work nights or weekends anymore. I don't want to work more than 20 hours per week. And I decided the company I work for has to be meaningful to me, instead of the money grubbing, employee screwing corporations I have worked for all my life.

There are two OutFITters stores - one in Concord, one in Manchester. Their sales revenues help to subsidize the parent organization, called Families in Transition.

FIT provides assistance to homeless families and families who are about to become homeless. They set them up with temporary quarters, they find them temporary, affordable housing and they work towards finding them permanent affordable housing.

That is something I can get behind. Big time.

The job is four afternoons a week, five hours a pop - Tuesday through Friday. It pays exactly what we need to supplement social security. I get three day weekends and no nights.

The only draw back is I get out at 6:45, so I won't get home until 7:15 four nights a week.

Want to know what I have learned in life? The only iron clad rule that cannot be disputed?

Nothing ever goes exactly the way you want it to.

I can live with 7:15. Everything else is gravy.

They liked me. I am going back for a second interview on Friday at 11:00.

I got this job. I feel it in my bones.

This whole retirement thing feels so right. Things are clicking along smoothly; no stress, no fuss, no muss.

It feels to me like Carol and I are being rewarded for a lifetime of struggling and fighting and sacrificing.

That is how life should work.

I have been free for 3 weeks now. And things just keep on rolling along like magic. I feel so good inside, so confident and so happy that my mind and my heart and my soul are beginning to mend.

Who the hell knew I would ever get here?

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

He Makes It So Hard

I think, maybe, I want to like LeBron James.

But he doesn't make it easy.

When Cleveland beat Golden State LeBron got face down on the floor and appeared to be sobbing. I was thinking: "Is this real or is it a performance?"

Typically I would be crying right there with him - I am an emotional son of a bitch and I can cry for or with anybody in a variety of circumstances. But LeBron is so damn cocky I am one step removed from him, instead of being right there with him.

Tears were running down his cheeks as he hugged his teammates, but even then I cynically thought maybe they were tears of appreciation of his own greatness.

I have always wanted to read his "letter to Cleveland" ever since he wrote it. It intrigued me. The idea that an athlete would write an open letter to the city he abandoned as he prepared to return.

He wrote it in 2014. I just read it today. Apparently I am an exceptionally busy man..

I wanted the letter to be an amazing work of art, a cliche shattering monument to one man's attempt to express himself honestly and uniquely. Speaking directly to the people who live close to where he was brought up, the city he left to pursue an NBA championship elsewhere; as opposed to watering down the moment with a press conference, complete with vapid journalistic questions.

It's not.

It is entirely possible I am trying too hard to trash the man. I can't be objective about an ego that is bigger than my house. I'll run through some of the quotes anyway; you be the judge.

"People there (Cleveland) have seen me grow up. I sometimes feel like I'm their son." I don't know, it feels to me like he is assuming too much. Their son? My sons are sacred to me. They are a goddamn religion unto themselves. I understand that fans worship their athletes but I am not sure the son metaphor applies.

"The hardest thing to leave is what I built with those guys" - speaking of leaving Miami. Not what we built - what I built. Now in total honesty he does drop a couple of "we's" later in the same paragraph. But I think the "I built" thing reflects his true perspective.

"It will be a long process, much longer than it was in 2010" - talking about bringing a championship to Cleveland. "My patience will get tested.   ...................But I get a thrill out of bringing a group together and helping them reach a place they didn't know they could go.   ..................I feel my calling here goes above basketball. I have a responsibility to lead, in more ways than one, and I take that very seriously."

He sounds like he thinks he's a goddamn prophet (but I could be wrong.)

OK. Now, what he said the night they won Game 7. "I don't know why the man above gives me the hardest road, but the man above don't put you in situations that you can't handle. And I just kept that same positive attitude, like, instead of saying, 'Why me?,' just saying "This is what he wants me to do."

Oh my God - the hardest road? Playing in the NBA for ungodly sums of money and being worshiped like a deity himself?

And even though he didn't really ask "Why me?", the thought obviously crossed his mind.

Why me? Seriously? Is he seriously asking why he has to carry this heavy load of leading a team to a championship? What a horrific burden.

Now, in his defense as an athlete........................he lead all players in the finals in points, rebounds, assists, blocks and steals - the first player ever to do that in a playoff series. He also became the third player in NBA history to put up a triple double in a Game 7.

His teammates obviously respect him and look to him as their leader. That says a lot.

Can't he just do it all humbly, quietly, and with dignity? He could just let the stats speak for themselves. He's got three goddamn rings, for Christ sake.

We should settle this man to man. He should come to my home, sit down and chat with me. Maybe accidentally leave behind a million dollars in cash when he leaves.

That might change my opinion.


Monday, June 20, 2016

I've Been Duped

I became an instantaneous fan of Sergio Garcia after reading an interview with him in Golf magazine.

He is a pro golfer, been on the PGA and European tours for decades. He's an underdog - somebody about whom the rest of the pros, the high profile guys who win the big tournaments, probably talk about when he is not around.

He has never won a major. That's a pretty serious rap for a pro.

He has won a ton of money - over $40 million during his career - but his cojones, apparently, are not big enough to get him to the finish line when it counts.

He came across likeably in the interview, like a straight shooter regular type of guy. I have recently gotten into watching golf for the competition and the sense of peace it somehow inspires in me. I liked the idea of rooting for an underdog so I decided to be in Garcia's corner whenever he was competitive.

Until yesterday.

My son Craig, who is an avid golfer, pointed out to me some remarks Garcia made in 2013 about Tiger Woods. I had heard the remarks but was not aware that it was Garcia who made them.

Garcia was on stage at the European Tour awards dinner, celebrating with the rest of the victorious 2012 European Ryder Cups team. He was asked by a golf analyst whether he would have Tiger Woods over for dinner at the U.S. Open the following month.

Garcia replied: "We will have him round every night. We will serve fried chicken."

He took a lot of shit for the remarks and, of course, quickly apologized for them saying he meant nothing racist.

The man is scum.

I can no longer root for him.

I am not a vindictive guy and of course I wish the man no harm.

My only wish is that he never win another golf tournament in his life and that he develop a gambling addiction that results in his losing every penny he has ever earned, along with his house, his car, his golf clubs, and every single one of his other possessions.

Other than that I wish him well.

Saturday, June 18, 2016

What I Have In Common With David Crosby

At the end of "Since Then", David Crosby's second autobiography, he tries to sum up his life; who he has been, who he is.

Here's the line that floored me: "My two biggest mistakes were to be mad and sad, and use those feelings as excuses to get loaded."

I have enjoyed a river of whiskey in good times and fun situations; I have consumed an ocean of whiskey running away from life.

Other thoughts of his that resonated with me: "I've learned not to obsess about people who've screwed me over - I won't even rent them any space in my head. They're working on their karma, and I'm working on mine. You can't do anything about other people, I can't change anyone but myself, and I can't even do that without major effort."

I am not quite as evolved - yet - but I am committed to making the major effort to change myself.

You gotta love Crosby - he is truly one of a kind.

And the music................the sweet, breathtakingly beautiful, music; the lyrics that resonate with your life's experience and your soul.

The Notebook

I keep a notebook next to the anti-ambition chair so I can write down brilliant, inspirational ideas that I intend to get creative with.

My brain gets flooded with them - things that occur to me naturally, snippets I pick off TV, things people say, musical lyrics and some deeply embedded insanity that makes its way to the surface of my brain, unbidded.

Problem is there are too many for me to keep up with. And the argument could be made that many of them are more garbage than inspiration, although I believe every creative thought in my head is brilliant.

Unfortunately I am too cryptic with my notes. I'll write something short intended to spark my imagination; when I look back at it a month later I have no idea what my intended angle was. Not enough detail to fire up the brain.

I was flipping through the notebook the other day -  42 pages of writing prompts - forty two - many that I have used, many that have been neglected.

Some of them sounded so goddamn promising but I have no idea what I was thinking at the time.

Some examples: Prufrockian paralysis; intangibles/violence/banking; cornered by life/wounded by hope; booze + madness + listening to Bukowski; possible to like evil - condescend goodness?; purple - color of death; shut the fuck up and let me die in peace; dead plants + violins - beauty + sadness; talking to old guys about baseball; Koch brothers - do what Snoop does?.

My mind is a fertile playground of possibilities. (Those words popped into my head - I just had to write them down.)

I have lost the thread for many of these snippets in the notebook; no idea where the hell I intended to go with them.

In related news...........I also lost the thread of where I was going with this post. I figured that reviewing my notes would spark some sort of creative thinking and/or analysis in my diseased brain, but apparently right now I am an empty vessel.

The best I can come up with is perhaps using these long lost snippets as a creative exercise - make what I will out of them, absent the original inspiration. Could be fun. May bear fruit.

Anyway, sorry to bore you this day. Sorry to let you down, entertainment-wise.

I'll try to do better next time.

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Here's What I Want To Know

Who the hell am I to judge?

I returned my shirts to the store today - the liquor commission has to get their precious shirts back, man. Those purple shirts with the lottery commission ad whored on the sleeve. I would wear them home in the wintertime but when the weather was warm, as soon as I got to my car I would strip those suckers off.

Don't be alarmed - I always wore a T-shirt underneath.

This brings back a memory. For a spell I worked in Waltham, MA while still living in Henniker, NH. A one and a half hour commute one way, baby.

I was driving a brand new Toyota Corolla at the time - the car was awesome but it had no AC. On really hot days, when I got to my car, I would take off my shirt and drive home bare chested. This was when my body was something to be proud of. I usually stopped for a cold six pack (yes I put my shirt back on - loosely) which I would consume on the ride home. (Hard stuff if it was a bad day.)

Man it felt so good sipping on a cold beer with the wind blowing across my chest.

Anyway, today was a beautiful day for a drive, baby - I was cruising and bruising, digging on the very tasty summer weather and smiling to and fro.

Had a good visit with the real people in the store - bit of a chat here, bit of a chat there - some laughs. Felt very very good to walk out as I pleased without my finger glued to a time clock.

Motoring on home, turned the corner at the T-Birds in Antrim and there was this enormous fat guy sitting on his lawn in one of those chairs you fold up and stick in your pocket. Couldn't believe it even supported the man.

He was dressed quite casually -  no shirt, just shorts. He was sitting facing the traffic dead on, head on - no car could get by without looking right at him. He filled your windshield, your vision and your contempt.

Lots of exposed flesh, none of it toned.

I was immediately disgusted. I'm talking blubber city, baby. And pale white - ready to be scorched by the summer sun.

What the hell is this guy thinking - commuters coming around the corner after a hard day's work, tired, frustrated, distracted - a sight like that could shock you into veering off the road right into his miraculously muscular chair.

I am fat myself. Fifteen pounds overweight. I am trying man, really trying now that I got some time. Drop a pound here a pound there, maybe I can reclaim my body. Still I have vowed never again to remove my shirt in front of any other human being. Sometimes as luck and marriage would have it I occasionally have to de-shirt in front of Carol and even then I am embarrassed.

If I took my shirt off in a crowd, group vomiting would occur, of the projectile kind.

"Hey Jack - did you see that guy puke? Jesus Christ his vomit landed fifteen feet away. That was amazing."

This guy is comfortable in his own skin. He does not think he is sexy - he could not possibly believe that, right? I'm sure he is not sitting there expecting some hot chick to pull over and knock him to the ground and ravage him.

It is hot. He is fat. He is keeping it cool, kind of.

I believe my approach makes more sense, at least in the consideration of others arena, but if Fat Joe wants to let it all hang out, why not?

This world is a big, ugly, messy, unpredictable place. And warm weather is a precious commodity around here. It is practically a myth. If letting your fat hang out makes you feel good, I guess you might as well do it.

Still, you cannot control the reaction of the mind and the way it physically affects your body.

I am still trying to get my appetite back.

Maybe I won't eat so much tonight.

Trump's Got My Vote

Donald Trump is a chump.

I was going to call him a piece of shit but I decided to tone it down.

Over 100 families were devastated by the Orlando massacre - 49 forced to deal with the sudden and untimely deaths of loved ones.

The magnitude of the suffering is unspeakable, perpetrated by one vicious, cold-hearted scumbag who, thankfully, is dead..

Trump, being the intelligent, principled and sensitive guy that he is, decided to use the tragedy as a political talking point to attack President Obama.

He insinuated that the Prez is somehow involved and aware of terrorist activities.

Trump's words: "He doesn't get it, or he gets it better than anybody understands - it's one or the other and either one is unacceptable."

A reporter asked him what he meant by that and he said something like "I'll let you figure it out."

The ball-less wimp doesn't have the guts to come right out and say what he means; he'd rather let it hang out there and incite his mindless followers to ramp up their hatred of President Obama and excite them to consider more acts of hatred and violence at his campaign events and elsewhere. And he knows that's exactly what he is doing.

Should be fun when President Obama hits the campaign trail with Hillary, no?

I am surprised Trump didn't try to link President Obama to the alligator death of a two year old in Orlando. I have faith that Trump could find a way to link the attack to terrorism and deride President Obama for refusing to utter the words "radical alligator terrorism."

And his idiot followers would believe him.

The man is juvenile. He mocks his opponents by calling them names. He knows nothing about world politics, he knows nothing about so many things a president has to have a handle on to be able to deal intelligently with other world leaders.

He talks about his goddamn dick, for Christ sake - and this is a man you want in the white house?

The press refuses to call him out. All the talking heads keep saying Trump needs to be more presidential. They keep waiting for him to act more presidential. They say he needs to act more presidential if he is going to bring swing voters around to his camp.

Are you serious? He has already revealed himself to be the juvenile and vile man that he is - if he pretends to be someone else all of a sudden you will be able to accept him? Are you well educated, politically savvy pundits really asking Chump to openly lie to you? This would be acceptable to you?

Give me a fucking break.

The intelligent people I know who say they will vote for Chump admit they don't like him, they don't like what he says, they don't like the way he acts. Then they say they hope he will surround himself with intelligent advisers.

That's like admitting that the woman you want to marry is ugly, stupid, serially unfaithful, cold-hearted and tainted with venereal disease, but you hope her sister visits often.

People in this country are frustrated. I get that. I'm frustrated. Our government is a joke; it is dysfunctional and operates in a vacuum completely separated from the average person's life. They don't care about us and they don't take care of us.

I understand the desire to shake up the status quo with an infusion of new blood and a new perspective.

But Donald Trump?

For Christ sake, if you want to buck the system you at least have to do it with an intelligent candidate; someone who can outmaneuver career politicians and bring about real change.

You cannot accomplish this with a junior high school student.

Which is what Trump is.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

The Tuna Incident

Had a fulfilling first half of the day today.

Dentist appointment at 10:00. That is definitely not exciting but I haven't been in four years. I knew it had been a while but four years seemed a bit excessive.

Time is a misleading son of a bitch. It flows and it goes and suddenly you don't have enough of it.

Although I have noticed that since I "retired" time has taken on a distinctly different feel. It is like a thick and rich dark chocolate ice cream topping that even when you heat it up flows at its own pace.

Side note: I am listening to the Allman Brothers final concert at The Beacon Theatre on October 28, 2014. "Statesboro Blues".

Sparked a Wayne memory, Carol's older brother. He and I were riding together to The Pocono International Raceway, the legendary race track where we as a family, along with our friends, created legendary memories.

Carol's parents were living in Statesboro, GA at the time. The first line of the song is "Wake up, mama - turn your lamp down low." Wayne was driving, I was shotgun. He turned to me and asked "Do you think my father ever said that to my mother?"

Goddamn we laughed.

Escaped the dentist at 11:15 and motored my way into Concord. I am cleaning up and thinning out my life. I recently went through my closet and pulled out all the clothes I never wear. Washed them and folded them and put them in two 30 gallon trash bags.

Drove to the Salvation Army outpost and donated them. I feel good about this. In the past I would have thrown the clothes in the dump. No kidding. While I was there I bought myself two funky shirts for $5.99.

Pretty fucking cool.

Proceeded to Pet Smart from there to buy a bag of pill pockets. Now that Lakota has been officially diagnosed with hypothyroidism she is on twice daily medication and it is a bitch to sneak the pills past her.

Did a little research and discovered these pill pockets - cat snacks with an opening at the top - you slip the pill in there, squeeze it closed and fake your cat out. Can't wait to test them out tonight.

Left Pet Smart and decided to reward myself.

Had a little cash in the wallet and went looking for Taco Bell, wanting to try out those new cheese steak thingies but I blew it. Missed it somehow so I went to D'Angelos and got me a medium roast beef sub with pickles, onion, tomatoes and mayo.

Headed on home to chow and chill.

Settled on the screened in porch with the cats and the sandwich and prepared to chow and mow.

The first half of the sandwich went down like a gourmet meal. I was chowing the second half and sniffed something horrible. Turned the sandwich over and there was a hunk of tuna stuck to the back side.

TUNA! I fucking hate fish. Always have since I was 3 seconds old.

I wiped that poisonous stuff off the bread but the stink was unavoidable. So I sacrificed and ate the damn sandwich backwards. Took three or four bites to get past the stench and the horrific taste.

Finished the sandwich in relative calm and gourmet splendor but my psyche was rattled.

How did they know? Did they take one look at my pinched, close lipped countenanace and just know that I hate fish? And decide to punish me?

I prefer to believe it was a random mistake and that these things happen.

I am lovable. Why would anybody want to hurt me?

So there you have it.

A day in the life.

Cat Zen

Maka does not know that she is tiny.

So she is fearless, a ferocious hunter and defender of her turf.

I learn so much from my cats.

Truthfully she has gained a pound or two since she came into our life. Carol and I enjoy treating our cats.

When I was working they would get dry snacks from me when I left the house and just before I went to bed. Carol gives them wet food right around our supper time.

Lakota got fat that way and Maka has followed in her footsteps.

Carol has scaled it back to an every other night kind of thing in the hopes that Maka will not gain any more weight and hopefully will lose an ounce or two. Lakota has thinned out considerable since hypothyroidism came around, but she has gained a little weight since the medication kicked in. We don't want her to get back to her fat cat ways.

Now that I am around a lot the cats are confused. I have no set schedule so almost every time I wander into the kitchen they follow me in, circling tentatively, wondering "Is this snack time or not?"

Goddamn cute.

Anyway, I get back from Concord with my tainted sub and head out to the screened-in porch. Maka is already out there.

I am sitting at the table digging my fate and the gorgeous weather. Maka is walking the periphery taking it all in as she always does.

Suddenly she stops and starts chirping at something. I couldn't see it - bird, squirrel or other?

But she is fearlessly saying "Hey, do not mess with me. This is my home, my haven and I will kick your ass if you challenge me."

This tiny, little cat who has much more in common with a lion than a house pet.

I am looking at her and thinking "That is how you live a life. With boldness and balls, no matter your size - physically, mentally, financially, emotionally or otherwise."

My cats have a lot to teach me.

I have the time.

Saturday, June 11, 2016

Muhammad Ali

The dam broke yesterday.

I knew it was coming and was frankly surprised that it took as long as it did.

I set the DVR to tape Muhammad's funeral procession when I got up, then went about my business. Sat down around 12:30 with a bowl of rice chex, banana and strawberries and turned on the tube.

The procession was making its way through the streets of Louisville. When I saw the hearse I had a mouthful of cereal, which I almost choked on.

I started to sob. It came and went quickly but I did have to set the bowl aside for a while. I was overwhelmed.

And what an amazing situation, pure Ali. There was no pomp and circumstance, no ropes preventing people from getting up close and personal. It blew me away to see hundreds, probably thousands of people along the route stepping out to touch the hearse, throwing flowers on the hearse, kissing their hand and touching that hand to the hearse.

Had I been there I would have touched my hand to Ali's hearse, no doubt, no other option, and I would have been crying like a baby when I did it.

The driver had to keep reaching out to brush flowers aside so he could see. The windows of the hearse were down; so were windows on many of the family limos in the procession. The family was actually talking to the mourners, waving to them - how unbelievably intimate.

The Peoples' Champ to the very end.

The ceremony, held later in the afternoon, blew me away. Ali had helped to orchestrate the whole thing going back ten years ago, from the funeral procession to the ceremony, and his presence was so obvious.

No highlight reel, no pictures, no music.

A man devoted to the Muslim faith essentially MC'd the proceedings. There was a reading from the Koran and a translation. Two separate rabbis spoke. A Native American spoke flanked by two of his brothers. Two Buddhist monks chanted.

Ali's spiritual and worldwide influence was so beautifully illustrated without braggadocio, subtly and powerfully.

During the funeral procession and before the ceremony began, commentators were attempting to provide insightful analysis. As is always the case, they were trying in their small minded, torturous and selfish ways,to add gravity to the situation with what they considered to be brilliant questions and insights. They were easily and humorously upstaged by those who knew Ali intimately.

Believe it or not, a man who taught Ali in high school was there. A guy who lived his life in Louisville. The commentator asked him how Ali made such a big impact on Louisville. The guy answered as if he were talking to an idiot "By being Muhammad Ali."

One of the rabbis said the best way to honor Ali is to "Be Ali." Simple. Powerful. Pure truth.

Coverage of the funeral procession began sometime around 9:00 a.m. on ESPN and continued on through the memorial ceremony, which ran until shortly after 6:00 p.m.

There was nothing else on the station - no sports, and none of the typical banal analysis and conversations that dominate the network.

That was meaningful to me. The coverage of sports has become superficial, and the things that athletes say and do are such a joke. There has never been and never will be another like Ali, who dominated and changed the sports world, whose influence and principles and guts inspired people all around the world.

In my opinion ESPN should have closed shop after the ceremony. Gone black. That is the magnitude of tribute Muhammad Ali deserves.

Billy Crystal said that Muhammad made our lives better than they were. That really got to me.

I thought about the excitement I felt as a kid waking up to my father's notes, never doubting that Ali had won the fight. The thrill I got from watching him fight, the beauty and power and grace that would make your jaw drop. The way he made me laugh all the time. The pride and inspiration I felt when he stood up to the United States government. The impact he had around the world after his fighting career was over. The way people both powerful and struggling looked up to this man with awe and respect and how he treated them all with equal respect and love.

Each one of these experiences and impressions made my life better. He made me happy, he inspired me, he taught me, he surprised me. He took me away from my own life and gave the world to me.

I cried a lot yesterday. Why wouldn't I?

I was lucky enough to experience Muhammad Ali in all his phases and all his glory, from his 1964 explosion onto the boxing world's largest stage, which he made bigger, to his death in 2016.

Billy Crystal was right. He made my life better than it was.

I loved Muhammad Ali.

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Retirement Reflections #4


Death looms. I suppose if you want to be morbidly realistic (and I do) death looms from the day you are born. You are going to die, there is nothing you can do about it and at some age in your life you become aware of this.

At that point the awareness of death becomes a part of your life.

I have always been obsessed with death. Truthfully I do not understand how anyone could not be obsessed with death. It is such a weird concept to know one day you will just be gone. You run around living your life as if you are immortal but one day you will succumb. You will be only a memory.

I am uncomfortable with this truth.

My obsession became more focused when Sarge, Jonathan and Kevin died in rapid succession. Those deaths got under my skin and into my soul and stayed there.

Looking at where I am now I feel like I owe it to them to do more with my life. None of them had a chance to experience what I am experiencing now.

 Up until now I have pretty much just survived. What I am going to do from this point on is shape, mold and live my life in a way that will satisfy my soul, make me proud and draw applause from Sarge, Jonathan and Kevin.

B.B. King, Lemmy Kilmeister, David Bowie, Glen Frey, Keith Emerson, Paul Kantner and............

                                                                    Muhammad Ali.

These are people who had an impact on my life, people who died in 2015 and 2016. Kimeister, Bowie, Frey, Emerson and Kantner all died in quick succession.

Their deaths hit me hard because so many of the people that I dug as a kid and some, for all of my life, are dying off. This does not bode well for me.

It is a difficult thing when people you idolize are suddenly gone. You have such an intimate relationship with them, whether you ever saw them live or not, whether you ever met them or not, that they leave a void.

Which emphasizes the brutal nature of mortality.

I've been thinking about this a lot. What do you do when your idols die? Who do you turn to? You don't just pick up new inspirations, it doesn't work that way.

It makes you look at your life and evaluate whether or not these people had a true impact, beyond entertainment.

Did you incorporate whatever you admired about them into your own personality? If not, can you do that now?

I am 62. I have the rest of my life ahead of me. I have the time and determination to do something meaningful about it.

I'll let you know how it goes.

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Retirement Reflections #3


I  read two books prior to retiring, carefully chosen. One was "The Road to Character" by David Brooks, the other "Since Then" by David Crosby.

I wanted books that could inspire me, fire up my brain and get me moving in the right direction. I need to make some changes to my psyche, need to find a way to think differently, act differently and, ultimately, achieve differently.

I do not like who I have become, a person who was created by my perception that I had to act in a certain way to survive the psychedelic nightmare my life had become. I am going to take the time to re-invent myself, or maybe just excavate the true self lying buried beneath the bullshit all these decades.

"The Road to Character" was just what the doctor ordered. It is a series of studies on people who actively worked to overcome their weaknesses and identify their strengths, and to use their new found wisdom to live their lives in ways that made sense to them.

Most of them had to work hard at it and many of them did not succeed, professionally or personally, until later in life. This resonates with me because I am 62. Unless I live another 62 years I am definitely later in life.

Apparently I am working to fulfill my mother's assessment, early on, that I am a late bloomer. I always resented that evaluation but now I would be happy to prove her right.

I dug the common thread that these people had to work hard to overcome their weaknesses and to identify and cultivate their strengths, that they failed time and again but kept at it until they created a meaningful life.

Feels to me like my thought processes have been so burned into my skull that it will not be easy to turn them around. However, since my brain is the main source of unhappiness and underachievement, I am going to hammer away at it until the phoenix emerges.

"Since Then" is David Crosby's second autobiography. The first was called "Long Time Gone" and was written in 1998 (yes, I read it.)  So much happened in his life afterwards that he wrote "Since Then" in 2006.

I chose the book because Crosby has balls. It is as simple as that. I love the way he thinks, I love what he has achieved in his life, I love his creativity and I am amazed at the things he has survived.

He grabs life and wrestles it to the ground. I need me some of that.

I have been too weak, too accommodating to other peoples' whims and have lost myself in the process.

I tried to absorb his confidence from the pages of the book.


"Infinite Jest". I am rewarding myself with this book written by David Foster Wallace, a book he wrote in 1996. It was considered to be an amazing work of fiction and he was described as the next big author in the world of writing. A really big deal.

He killed himself in 2008. I don't know why.

It is a dense book, a challenging book both in size (over a thousand pages) and in scope. You really have to dig in to read it, you have to make a commitment and then let go and enjoy the ride. If you have ever read William S. Burroughs you will have some idea of what it takes.

I have wanted to read it for a very long time. I have owned it for at least six months, probably longer, but I never picked it up because it is not the kind of book you can read for two days and then skip for three days and get back to it.

You gotta dig in.

I started reading it on my first day of freedom and have been banging away at it every day since.

I enjoy books like this. They stretch my brain, they make me shake my head, they make me sigh, they make me think, they make me laugh, they make me feel alive.

I'm out of here.


Monday, June 6, 2016

As My Vocabulary Expands

I have moved forward from "Oh my God."

This morning I was sitting in my recliner, reading. I stopped to take a sip of coffee, put the cup down, looked out through the open French doors to see our cats sleeping peacefully, to glory in the beautiful sunshine and the warmth and freedom of the day.

I said out loud "Wow." Once again amazed and overwhelmed and appreciative of my good fortune.

A little later I walked towards the kitchen, stopping to turn around and look out the wide open window towards Carol's soul-nourishing garden.

I said out loud "Stunning."

I feel my new reality sinking in today.

Friday was my first day off but it still just felt like a day off. We enjoyed the weekend together but I benefited from occasional weekends while I endured that hideous job so it did not feel all that different.

It does today. Maybe because it is Monday.

I was on the porch taking in the beauty of my surroundings. I headed back into the house to grab this laptop.

I noticed that I was walking slowly. I noticed that my arms and legs were moving loosely. I literally felt the looseness in my body, and as I realized this I laughed out loud.

I am the luckiest man on this whole goddamn planet.

Retirement Reflections #2


I wouldn't be retired if it was not for my amazing wife Carol. She put the thought in my head last fall, suggesting that I look into retirement after my 62nd birthday.

On the surface of it I thought the girl was daft, but that word "retirement" lodged itself in my diseased brain and wouldn't let go.

I started investigating in February, with the firm conviction that the exercise was futile, that we would never be able to afford one of us retiring. I was a non-believer prepared to work until I died (whiskey would have killed me before the job ever did).

Then things began to fall in to place. Still I hesitated. Eventually all the facts lined up to the point where I could no longer ignore the obvious - I would be a flaming idiot if I did not retire.

At a relatively young age and in comparatively good health.

Carol had to see this as a bit of a gamble. Part of her brain, the part I have conditioned over the years, probably envisioned the possibility that I would drink whiskey and smoke pot in sloth-like lethargy until we lost our home and our marriage crumbled.

However, I have to believe she figured the odds were more in favor of me recognizing the gift I was given and actually turning my life - and our life - around to the point where we could both be happy and get ourselves some peace.

I have been a good boy for the past two years or so. I no longer drink myself into a numbed state of existence. Whiskey river has not run dry but it has certainly slowed to a trickle.

I think Carol acknowledges this and gambled that I have turned a corner.

She is right.

Amusing anecdote: We were together on a lazy Sunday and I decided a little whiskey would be a good thing. The magic fluid was near empty so I tipped the bottle up and drained it into my favorite glass. Turns out there was quite a bit more in there than I thought - the glass was 3/4 full.

I walked it into the kitchen along with the bottle, grabbed a funnel and poured half of it back. Carol asked "What are you doing?" I said "there is too much whiskey here, I am dumping some of it back." She laughed and said "I never thought I'd see the day."

When Carol first brought up the idea of retirement I suspiciously asked why she would suggest such a thing for me.

She said "Because I would like to see my husband happy for once in his life."

Do you understand the depth of that response? The selfless, loving nature of it?

I was overwhelmed and remain so now and probably forever.

Carol is the most loving, caring, thoughtful person on planet earth, which is only one of 300 reasons why I love her so deeply.

For the immediate future she has condemned herself to getting up for work five days a week while I sleep late. Soon I will be working part time but still probably half the hours that Carol works.

I have told her repeatedly that this retirement is not about me, it is about us. I told her I will do everything in my power to make her life easier.

She doesn't get it yet.

This morning as she was leaving she said she was stopping to pick up milk on the way home and asked if I needed anything.

Nothing in the world sucks more than having to run an errand after a day on the job.

I told her I would pick up the milk.

I will cook, I will load and unload the dishwasher, I will do the laundry, I will cut the grass, I will take care of the little errands.

Retirement is a sweet and beautiful gift for me, a chance to make my life my own and release my soul from the dark, exposing it confidently to the light of day and the world.

I am grateful for that opportunity.

I am more grateful for Carol. The longer we are together the more I love her, and I don't give a damn if you believe that or not.

I am lucky to be in the position that I am in; luckier still that Carol still stands by my side.

Sunday, June 5, 2016

Muhammad Ali

This one hurts a lot.

Feels like I lost a member of my family. Watched a tribute to him on Meet The Press this morning and the tears rolled down my cheeks. Fittingly enough Jim Brown was one of the people paying tribute - it was like coming full circle for me.

Ali came in to my life in 1964 when he defeated Sonny Liston to become the World Heavyweight Champion in a massive upset. He exploded boxing world stereotypes - he was intelligent, bold, hilarious, principled, handsome and a beautiful fighter - graceful, fast and powerful.

Sonny Liston had no idea how to deal with Muhammad; you can see the perplexed and angry look on his face at press conferences and at the weigh-in. He was helpless in Ali's shadow. Muhammad called him a big, ugly bear, said he even smelled like a bear and that after Ali beat him he was gonna donate him to the zoo.

That, my friends, took balls. Liston was much feared in the boxing world.

1964 was a big year for me. I was ten years old and impressionable. The Beatles came into my life, Muhammad Ali came into my life; I became aware of Jim Brown who ignited my love of football. In 1965 it was Joe Namath who fired my imagination.

All of these people and others are people who I love and respect. People who had qualities I identified with and admired; qualities I wanted to burn into my own personality.

But Ali was the king. If I was forced to pick one person who inspired me more than any other it would be him.

The man was fearless. He changed the world of boxing completely and popularized it beyond belief. I could not wait for an Ali fight.

When he started I was too young to stay up late to watch the fights. Back in the day the fights were not pay per view. Any humble man could watch a fight and they were well worth watching, unlike the slugs that fight today in a sport that has become meaningless.

My father knew how much I loved Ali. He would watch the fight and hang a note in my bedroom - "Ali won in eight by a knockout" - so it was the first thing I saw when I woke up.

That ritual meant a lot to me.

When I was older and could watch the fights, I was mesmerized. The man was magic in the ring, absolutely beautiful to watch. He was so graceful that you would be stunned when he unleashed a punch so powerful it staggered his opponent or knocked them down. He had a combination of grace and power that blew your mind.

When he got knocked down in a fight I would cringe. I could never believe that any fighter could get to him and I definitely never wanted to see him get hurt.

When he lost, I hurt.

Ali made celebrities out of the men he fought. Joe Frazier, Ken Norton, George Foreman, man those fights were epic. Ali taunted them mercilessly and had nicknames and insults for all of them.

But he backed it up. He always backed it up. He backed up everything he ever did, doing whatever was necessary in and out of the ring to defend his principles and validate his words.

Ali revolutionized the sport like a nuclear explosion and then went on to become a powerful activist, even as his career continued, despite a long hiatus. When he was drafted to fight in Viet Nam he stood up to the government and refused to go. He was arrested and found guilty of draft evasion. He was stripped of his title and sentenced to five years in prison.

He never served time but he lost almost four years of his career in his prime fighting this bullshit. The conviction was eventually overturned by the Supreme Court in 1971, proving Ali right and the government immoral.

Ali went on to become the most recognizable sports figure in the world; quite possibly the most recognizable person ever in history.

Muhammad Ali inspired me, he entertained me, he made me laugh, he showed me what a real man could be, what one person could accomplish.

He felt like my friend.

I feel empty today, I feel like nothing.

Even though he struggled with Parkinson's for over thirty years, I think maybe knowing he was alive subconsciously comforted me.

Now that he is gone my heart aches and my soul is starving.

I loved Muhammad Ali.

Saturday, June 4, 2016

Retirement Reflections #1

Yesterday was the first day of the rest of my life.

Today is too but yesterday was more meaningful. Yesterday was the first day of the rest of my new life.

My new life. 

June 3, 2016.

What a gift. What a magical, mystical moment in this wild ride that has been my life.

I never thought I would get here. At the age of fifteen, I could have described to you the life I would never live. I vividly remember thinking about it with distaste.

Then I went ahead and lived it, much to my horror and dismay. On the personal side of the ledger it could not have been better. My family is a supreme source of contentment, pride and happiness for me. But professionally and lifestyle-wise my life has been exquisite torture because I never believed in the life I was living.

So boring, so predictable, so soul-sucking.

I am a fiercely creative person who was forced to be practical.


Part of the problem was my own laziness and lack of inspiration in taking the initiative to make changes, to make my life my own. Part of it was responsibility - raising a family, paying a mortgage.

Doesn't matter - it ain't nuthin' but history now.

I sit here on June 4, 2016 in awe and humility. Absolutely overwhelmed by the truth that I have been given another chance. The moment feels spiritual to me, delicate and beautiful.

Another chance. I have had other chances in my life and blown them. Absolutely pissed them away.

Not this time. No fucking way.

I am back to square one armed with all of my life's experiences and a crystal clear awareness of all the mistakes I have made and the weaknesses in my own character.

I am aware of my strengths as well, which is a luxury I have never allowed myself before. I have never had a high opinion of myself, but I am coming around.

Life has knocked me down and slapped me around and generously delivered me to this moment with the implied challenge: "What are you gonna do now?"

For now I am still in awe.

This is Day Two - I cannot count the number of times the words "Oh my God" have entered my thoughts. When I think about where I am at and who I am now it is just mind blowing. It is also a little funny because I have literally blurted out loud the words "Oh my God" a lot when I have been alone. The reality wells up from inside me and I cannot contain my amazement.

We are celebrating too. I am not so in awe that I cannot enjoy the moment.

Carol and I went out to dinner on Thursday night - my last day of work. We sat on the deck overlooking the river at Daniels Restaurant. I listened to the wind and the birds and the river flowing, I dug the beautiful surroundings. I talked to and appreciated this beautiful woman who is the most significant human being in my life.

We cracked a bottle of champagne last night. Tonight we are going to Carabbas - our favorite restaurant - with Jason and Karen, two very special friends.

I cannot wait to see Keith and Emily and Craig and Karen because they are so much a part of my happiness.

And my brother Ed, who I have always looked up to even though I am the old fart.

I refuse to end this in some cutesy way. Just know that I am happier than I have been in a very long time. I feel like a tremendous weight has been lifted off of my shoulders.

Amazing. Absolutely fucking amazing.

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

People Need Long Weekends

People move slower and yawn a lot on long weekends.

I worked on Memorial Day. It was not a bad deal. I had Saturday and Sunday off and got paid extravagantly to work on the holiday.

I am fascinated by the difference in attitude of people when they are given the gift of time, the pleasure and the treasure of an extra day off.

Commentary: There is no doubt in my mind that the number of people who enjoy long weekends now is probably at least 50% less than it was 20 years ago. Our repressive society has devolved to the point where it is acceptable for employers to openly exploit their employees and demand that they sacrifice their personal time for the great joy of being underpaid and emotionally abused.

Back to the point: I was amazed on Monday at how many people yawned while they walked through the store. So laid back, so relaxed.

I enjoyed watching couples walking close together and laughing. Figuring out which booze to buy for the barbecue they were going to.  And in what quantity.

"Who's bringing the beer? Should we buy beer too? Do NH state liquor stores sell beer? Should we buy two bottles of wine or go for boxed wine which gives us four bottles at a much cheaper price?"

The nip rack did a brisk business. People standing at the register looking over and deciding that a few nips would perfect the weekend.

I have noticed that it is usually the husband or boyfriend grabbing the nips as his woman asks "Do you really need those?"

Those words have left Carol's lips a thousand times in our marriage.

I dug the number of people who came rolling up on motorcycles. Free and easy, taking in the beauty of the day as directly as is possible. Right down in it, sunshine and wind and the thrill of riding this machine that makes you feel so alive.

I dug the number of convertibles that pulled up. Washed and waxed, shiny and clean, exuding a sense of youth and abandon.

A couple strolled up to the register, the woman looked at the nip rack and said to me "I see you sell nips. Do you sell naps? I need a nap."

I hate the "work ethic" that has become the norm in this country.

There is nothing "ethic" about it. It is exploitive and allows employers to treat employees like cattle. We work too hard and kill ourselves in the effort.

Literally. So many other civilized countries give their employees much more vacation time and better benefits all around. Productivity is not considered more important than a sensible life style.

People in those countries live longer than we do.

So it is enjoyable for me to watch people make the most of their long weekends. It's not the doing that I dig, it's the visible signs of letting loose, the relaxing, the getting back in touch with who you are and the life you are supposed to enjoy.

I bet the collective blood pressure in this country drops 30 points on long weekends.

I did not have Memorial Day off but I got to see other people enjoy the tail end of a long and glorious weekend.

Not a bad deal.