Memory Quilt: Part 1 of ?

Eighteen tees.
Eighteen stories.
Some stories longer than others.
Some of the stories more meaningful than others, as to who I was and who I am.
Thanks to a friend for the idea. Thanks Harry Styron.
Thanks to his law school friend for transforming a bunch of shirts, ages two to fifty-one, into a colorful quilt. Thanks Kathy Tibbits.

Gonna break the telling into thousand word (or less) pieces.
It starts with hoops…

MAJC #1 (1968)

I was 5’10 and 140 pounds my senior year in high school. I changed high schools every year. I never made the basketball team in high school. In fact, the first team that I tried out for and “made” was at Ft. Bragg in 1971. (There is a story there….)
I added 4 inches and 40 pounds the summer after I graduated h.s. and started to come out of my shell.

I could shoot. I had good mechanics and form. I had quick hands. But I was skinny and puny…and an unassertive, introverted wallflower. My introversion resulted in lots of alone time growing up. Just me, a hoop and a basketball. I spent lots of time shooting a basketball all by myself.

At Mineral Area Junior College in Flat River, MO I made friends with a few of the guys on the juco team. I made friends with several local guys who had been good high school players. They put me on their intramural team.
I was not the best player on the intramural team that took the trophy at MAJC. But I was the most improved. I was never a scorer. I was a shooter.
(Note that my alone time after high school…and there was lot of it my first two years of college…added a fourth component: whiskey. Many afternoons I’d slam a few shots and take a couple-of-hundred jump shots on the blacktop court at Emerson Elementary School…where I had attended kindergarten. Over 30 years later I learned that my uncles knew about my jack-and-jumpshots time. )

There wasn’t a 3 point shot then, but in rhythm from 21 feet I could be deadly. And I had become fearless on the court. I liked guarding bigger guys; loved blocking out; liked to bump and bang.

Back “in the day” there was a thing called “town team basketball.” It was more than just a bunch of guys shooting some hoops and drinking beer. There were tournaments. There were sponsors. It was competitive and physical, especially the one held in Bismarck, MO. Lots & lots of bumping and banging.

In the spring of 1968, 7 of the guys who had played on the Mineral Area team the past 2 seasons got a team together. Most of them went on to play at 4 year colleges. I’m not quite sure to this day why they asked me to play on their team. I think they just needed an eighth to make the count even. Plus there was the shooting…. and the 5 hard fouls that I had to give.

I was mostly a practice dummy on the Blake Mattress Company team. But I always got some playing time, even in the finals of the Bismarck tournament. It was a barn-burner….and one of my favorite memories.
A few of the guys I played intramural ball with were in the stands at the finals. Somebody asked them “aren’t all those guys from the college team?”
“Yeah, except for that guy with the ball…”
And right then I buried it. On the next trip too.
I had 4 of our 103 points.
And a heckuva memory.

-=-=-=-=

MAJC #2 (1972)

I was fresh out of the Army. My brother had just finished his two years on the team at MAC. Seven of them got a sponsor and entered the tournament at Bismarck.
Once again I was the only member of the team who hadn’t been on the local juco squad.

That team made it to the finals too. But no first place trophy.   

-=-=-=-=

walkinback (1980)

This tee shirt was a Christmas present. It “commemorated” a trip to Pamelia Lake, in the Mt. Jefferson Wilderness of Oregon.
We had hiked to the beautiful lake at the foot of 10,497 foot Mt. Jefferson a few times before. It’s only 2.3 miles from the parking lot to the lake’s shoreline. Elevation gain of about 800 feet.
The hike had always been very pleasant, ending with snacks, weed and wine.

The tee was in remembrance of a cross-country ski experience.
Not all that pleasant for me…on my way in or out.

Four of us on the trek: my ex, and my two friends who had grown up in Wisconsin. Paula and Jim were both naturals on cross-country skis. Kevin was decent. I was horrendous.
None of us remembered from our hikes how much the trail twisted & undulated. Lots of up and downs.
I was down a lot. I have no idea how many times I had to pull myself out of the snow on the way to picturesque Pamelia Lake.

I had a fairly new pair of levis on that day, and every time I fell on my ass I would leave a couple of blue marks in the snow. My friends thought it was funny. I laughed with them, as they laughed at me.
I told them that I only had about a dozen more falls left in me, and after that I would walk back.

They didn’t think I was serious.
If I had it to do over again, I probably wouldn’t have taken my skis off for the last half mile…or at least put them back on after I learned how hard it was to hoof it.
Walking turned out to take even more effort than the falling…staining the snow levis blue…and dragging my clumsy self back to vertical.

But if I had skied back to the parking lot, rather than walking, my friends would never have given me this awesome tee shirt!!

It took 564 days…

…and it was worth the wait.

On September 21, 2017 I walked away from a silent auction as the winner of a one hour flight in a speedy single engine Cessna.

Five-hundred sixty-four days later, on April 7, 2019, Wayne and I flew to Farmington, picked up Dad, and flew back to Springfield. Total time in the air: 2 hours, 5 minutes. (Wayne is the pilot. It’s his plane. He donated the $750 dollar flight that I picked up for only one-hundred-and-eighty dollars.)
-=-=-=
When I found out that I had won the flight, my first thought: “what the hell am I gonna do with this? who’ll go flying with me?”
As I walked to the car, I flashed on the obvious solution: help my 91 year old Dad have a new experience.
I called him as soon as I got into the Prius. I told him how much fun I often have at silent auctions….and that tonight I had won something with him in mind.

“Dad, have you ever flown in a small plane?”
“Well one time your Mom and I….”
“Not commercial dad. I’m talking single engine. Seats 4. Max. And everybody wears headphones….”

Dad was up for it!
And it looked like we might take the flight within a month.
Dad lives 200 miles east of Springfield. A few times a year he stays for several days at my sister’s at Table Rock Lake. One of those times was gonna happen in late October.
Wayne, Dad and I put 3 pm on 10/22/17 on our calendars.
Our one hour flight would take us down over Jasper, Arkansas and over Lake Taneycomo, Table Rock and Beaver Lake.
Dad would see fall colors and lots of water….a couple of his favorite things.

We didn’t fly on October 22, 2017. Low, heavy clouds.
Wayne said we could go up, but all we would see below us would be clouds.
We decided to postpone until Dad’s next stay at Paula&Don’s.
-=-=-=
And then things changed.
Here is the entry from my journal the next day, 10/23/17:
“exchanged some texts with wayne. he tossed out the idea of flying over to get dad and then flying him to springfield. i like the idea. called the lake and left a message to that effect. hopefully we can make it happen.”
It took another 541 days until 4/7/19 when Wayne asked: “do you have the need….the need for speed!”

I’m not sure how many times after that day in late October two-thousand-seventeen that we would shuttle Dad from/to his place in Doe Run via automobile. At least 5 or 6 times.

There was conflict after conflict.
…a schedule conflict with the travel days for Wayne (he owns a business with operations here and in Chattanooga)
…a schedule conflict with the travel days for me (I told my sister she could take my seat if I was gonna be out of town on a date that worked…but she’s “not interested in flying,” aka chicken)
…we didn’t give Wayne enough lead time (yeah, this is another way of saying “schedule conflict”)

We got close to flying a couple of times. But close only counts in horseshoes, hand grenades and slow dancing…not in getting Dad an experience.
Finally, we were able to make all the schedules mesh and put a flight on our calendars. Early in the afternoon of Sunday, 4/7/19 I would meet Wayne at the airport. He and I would fly to Farmington and pick Dad up and then the three of us would fly back to Greene county.
-=-=-=
And then it seemed that once again it wasn’t gonna happen: the weather looked like it was gonna put the kibosh on the day! Fuck me.
I have little or no faith in “crack meteorologists” and their forecasts, but 10 days out I started paying attention.
It didn’t look promising from the get-go…and then it got worse.
The first few days the “experts” were calling for some rain on Sunday the 7th. By the time Wednesday the 3rd rolled around their forecast was for afternoon rain and thunderstorms on Sunday.
On Friday it looked like not only would the weather be too nasty to fly on Sunday…if the forecast was right, we probably wouldn’t even wanta drive across the state that day.
It looked like I was gonna be driving Dad home on Monday, and it would be back to the drawing board.

Wayne and I talked at noon on Saturday. He was optimistic that there would be decent weather if we pushed the time back a couple of hours. It wouldn’t be great weather, but Dad would be able to pick out some landmarks.
I told him that sounded good to me, but that I did have a couple of questions: “You don’t happen to be a doctor or EMT, do you? And are you concerned about ferrying a 92 year old across state who has had a pair of “three nitro days” in the past week?”
Wayne laughed. “No, I’m not a doctor. You don’t want to take a chance and postpone again do you?”
He was right. None of us are getting any younger…and none of us are promised tomorrow.

I’ll always remember April 7, 2019.
We woke up at our happy place, Shady Acre Motel, after a great Saturday evening of music by The Nace Brothers at The Rock House.
We had brunch and mimosas on our balcony at The Abbey.
Then I headed to the airport to finally meet Wayne after almost 18 months of lots and lots of text messages and several phone calls.

The flight in both directions went by too quickly. A tail wind got us there in 55 minutes. Randy and Dottie had driven Dad the 5 or 6 miles from his place outside Doe Run to the Farmington airport. It took us 70 minutes on the return flight. There were some scattered clouds. Otherwise, the weather was perfect.
Dad loved it.
I loved it.
So did Wayne. (He took a great selfie. Dad is the oldest person who has ever flown with him in the 30+ years he has flown. Wayne is a fantastic pilot. Perfect landings, even with a 20mph crosswind in Farmington. I have flown in small planes several times, and never experienced better touchdowns.)

I made two FB posts with pictures that afternoon. {In my journal I often include an annotation for FB posts.}
-=-=-=
FB at 4:46 pm
On the ground in Farmington.
Greene County…here we come!!
{picture of wayne, dad, me in front of the plane. taken by dottie.}   

-=-=-=-=
FB at 7:42 pm
We had the need.
The need for Speed.
Melvin, Steve, Wayne…pilot extraordinaire.
It was a great day.
It was a great day to fly.
{the selfie that wayne took of us. when we took off from spfd he asked me “do you have the need?” and he asked dad the same thing. he told me that it was from the movie top gun…and then I remembered.}

-=-=-=
My social media day on 4/7/19 started with this FB post:
FB at 8:23 am
This will be me and my 92 year old dad this afternoon…his first time up in a small plane.
Details and pictures later.
{link to “treetop flyer” by stephen stills}

It ended this way:
FB at 8:10
Perfect ending to a wonderful weekend.
Saturday night at our Happy Place.
Pizza.
Final Four.
Friends; Music; Music by friends.
Hotel sex.
Mimosas on the balcony.
Flight with Dad.
Binge watching with my baby.
Pie.
Red sky at night.
Perfect.
{picture of a red sunset from our balcony}    
-=-=-=

Great memory.
Great experience.
Period.

Stressed at the boarding area at TPA

Flying cross country for a job interview can be a bit stressful, even when you know that it’s a long shot.
Add in that I had to “play hooky” for a couple of days from AATT-whatever. (The interview was before I surprised my boss with my resignation…)
That was my situation.

The interview was in Portland. I was living and working in Sarasota. I was flying out of Tampa. Not only were the connections better out of TPA, but on a day when I had “called in sick” I also thought there would less chance of bumping into someone I knew.

Wrongo.
You know what they say about best laid plans….
-=-=-=
It was an early Thursday morning flight.
The waiting area at the gate was packed.
And there sat my boss…on the same flight to O’Hare as me!!
What? The. Fuck!?!?

I didn’t panic….not too much, anyway.
I thought about changing my flights, but for several reasons that wouldn’t work….primarily because the interview spanned two days, starting with a dinner a couple of hours after scheduled touchdown in PDX.

For the next 20 minutes, until boarding, I concocted my story in case I ended up needing one. I don’t think it woulda been believable, trying to explain calling in sick and then catching a 6am flight.
Fortunately I never needed to stammer and stutter while spewing obvious bullshit.
-=-=-=
The boss was flying first class, which meant that I had to walk right past him to get to my seat. I had flown on the same plane with him enough times to know that he usually went to work as soon as he got into his seat.

That’s what he was doing this morning. He had his head down, a stack of printed out e-mails on the tray, a pen in his hand.
He was focused.
I managed to sneak by him on my way to my seat several rows from the back of the plane.
I was holding my breath, with my fingers crossed, as I got past him and into coach as quickly as I could.
When the plane landed in Chicago I was in no hurry to get into the terminal.

I guess I musta been living right.
Or more likely: I was just very, very lucky.
-=-=-=
At our weekly one-on-one the following Monday, his first question was “How are you feeling?”

“I was really nauseous last Thursday morning, but I was feeling better by later in the day. And I still had a bit of ‘nervous stomach’ on Friday.”

BTW, a couple of months later, after some follow-up interviews…and after I had given my notice at AATT-w…I got the job in Portland.

Things that survived the move to MO: Part Two

 

I’ve been doing some spring cleaning. I’m calling it “packing to move.” I don’t plan on going anywhere soon, but I wanta get a head start for when that day does come.

On Wednesday I went through the 2 drawers of my nightstand. I shredded or recycled about a foot-and-a-half tall stack of stuff.
I came across quite a few gems. Mostly cards with notes in them, several letters and some thought-provoking goodies that will continue to move with me, whenever and wherever that might be.
One of the goodies was credit-card sized. It has moved cross country three times since 1996. It reminded me of why I left AATT-whatever.
I loved most of my time at Arthur Andersen & Co.
I hated some of it.
But “Core Values” was taking it too far.
More on that later….


Friday I went through my closet. I’m not a big “shoe guy” but 9 pair will have new owners soon.
I’ve used the “reverse hanger” approach the past few years. Almost everything left in my closet after adopting this annual exercise is something I wear often, or which falls into the “I could never get rid of that…let me tell you a story” category.
The shirt that I wore the day that I surprised my boss in Sarasota with an out-of-nowhere resignation hasn’t been worn since 1996. It falls into the latter bucket.

Paula (my ex) knew that I planned to give notice at my weekly one-on-one with the office managing partner. She sorta freaked when she saw what I put on that morning: the red, white and blue recruiting shirt for what was then called “Arthur Andersen Technology Solutions”…proudly displayed on the shirt. (“AATT-whatever” had gone thru several name changes in the 7 years that I had been in Floriduh.)

The other verbiage on the shirt: “Make the right choice.”

Her: “You can’t have that on when you tell him that you’re quitting! What the heck??”
I told her:
1. He won’t even pick up on it.
2. Plus I’ve already got an answer, but I don’t expect to get the opportunity to use it. (I didn’t.)

Her: “Yeah? So what are you gonna say when he comments on the shirt and the slogan?”
“It’ll be short. Direct. And accurate.”

The reply in my head: “Good things come in threes, Rodger. I made the right choice when I accepted the offer to come to work for Andersen in 1982. I made the right choice to accept the transfer to Sarasota in 1989. And now I’m making the right choice for me and my family.”

I honestly don’t remember much of the conversation after I dropped the bomb. I didn’t have a job lined up. I had a resume on the street, and had even had a long-shot interview (there is a story there).
He offered to help me with my job search. He did. I ended up with a couple of options that would have kept me at Andersen. But I knew that 14+ years was enough.
-=-=-=-
Those “Core Values” just didn’t ring true. I was expected to be the evangelist to 150 people…selling what was on the credit card. Couldn’t do it.
The 5 components: Integrity; Commitment to quality results; Balance; Initiative; Interdependence.
Who could argue with those 5?
Me. Bigly.

He wanted to know what lead to my decision. We talked about a few specifics regarding how the words on the credit card meshed (or didn’t!) with the reality at AATT-whatever. I’m not sure if we talked about all 5.
We did focus on 2 of them.

I started with Integrity. “We say what we think and we do what we say.”
Arthur Andersen founded the firm in 1913. The motto “Think straight, talk straight” was taught to him by his mother.
I was on the periphery as the “Core Values” were developed. My position when I was asked to comment: this definition is ridiculous…it should simply be “think straight, talk straight.” I lost.
I told him that I was was leaving because: politics is one thing; back-stabbing is another. Saying one thing and doing another, especially by “leaders” was unacceptable. It had turned cut throat, and I was getting out.

Then we talked Balance: “We balance multiple demands on our lives, including personal and work, individual and team, current and future opportunities.”
What total Fucking bullshit that was.
Teamwork for the last year or so had been merely lip-service….and I didn’t see that changing.
Personal life? What a novel freaking concept.
Our kids were 5 and 6. I was working 80 hour weeks. Too much road warrior time. And then all the war inside the building?
Adi-fucking-os.
I was gonna find some balance.

I got lucky. I found it at a company that got me back to Orygun for four years.
Earlier I wrote about an epiphany that lead me to walk away from that position too.

Above I wrote that I hated some of my time at Andersen, and I did. But I learned a lot, and two things I learned: don’t let heavy inertia win; don’t let a job make your life miserable.
Change it; live with it; or leave it.

I like what Dawes says in “Quitter”:
“Quit wasting my time because pretty soon you’ll find
It’s the only thing of value that we own
You’re gonna have to quit everything, until you find one thing you won’t…”

 

My Musical Epiphany

epiphany [ih-pif-uh-nee] a sudden, intuitive perception of or insight into the reality or essential meaning of something, usually initiated by some simple, homely, or commonplace occurrence or experience

I could call the conversation in my head in early March a couple of years ago an epiphany. (More on that internal dialogue in a minute….) . In fact, I do call it “My Musical Epiphany.”
The experience and the end result of it were very different from “Epiphany #1.”
This time the experience itself was solitary. It was on a long walk alongside Sinking Creek at Echo Bluff State Park early on a Sunday morning on the last day of an awesome roadtrip. (Our first trip to the Ryman; TTB in concert; found a diner that we loved; discovered and explored Echo Bluff S.P.; just the two of us with no cell service, a fireplace and balcony with a view…and more.)

This time the epiphany didn’t result in me quitting a job and moving cross country like Epiphany #1….but there was a bit of a lifestyle change.
On that fateful stroll in early 2017 I decided that if a show that I wanted to see was playing within 4 hours of me that I’d buy tickets. (On occasions I have exceeded the 240 minute “cap”…)
What happened next is referred to as “Ticket Buying Thursday” in my journal. That afternoon I bought tickets to: Dawes at Cain’s Ballroom in Tulsa; Joe Jackson at the Uptown Theater in KC; Tom Petty (with Joe Walsh opening) in Little Rock; and The Wheels of Soul Tour (Tedeschi Trucks Band, with Hot Tuna and the Wood Brothers opening) at The Amp in Rogers.
I have seen more shows in the last two years that I did back in the 80’s in Portland…and I saw LOTS of shows “back in the day.”

The Conversation?

Leon Russell.
Roy Orbison.
Death and Dying.
Life and Living.

1. Leon.
Here’s an excerpt of my FB status on 11/13/16:
“As we got in the car to head home from downtown after a stroll thru downtown to walk off breakfast, I heard a teaser on NPR of this song…and I reacted when they cut if off: “I love that song…don’t tease me!!” But I didn’t hear the awful news.
Then we get home and I learn that one of my heroes has died. This hurts.
He was scheduled to be the opening act for the Tedeschi Trucks Band at the first show I’ll ever see at the Ryman. That night next March in Nashville will be bitter sweet.”
{The song I linked to was “A song for you” Goosebumps.}
I get teary every time I think about that November morning.

2. Roy.
In a piece I wrote on here:
“For some reason that I don’t remember, I did NOT go see Roy Orbison at the Schnitzel on October 22, 1998. Roy had made this fantastic come-back. He had dubbed himself “Lefty Wilbury” in the super group The Traveling Wilbury’s. Roy was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of fame in 1987. Lefty Wilbury was quoted as saying “It’s very nice to be wanted again, but I still can’t quite believe it.”
I couldn’t believe it when his gig at The Schnitz ended up being one of his last shows. He was dead 40 some days after he left PDX. The man with the magical voice was dead at 52.
The lesson I learned from that: YOLO.”

3. Death and Dying.
We’re all gonna die.
Period.

4. Life and Living.
Life is for Living.
Period.

Lessons.
I learned the very same thing from My Musical Epiphany as I did from Epiphany #1.
I have to keep re-learning that lesson all the time….

Life is precious. Enjoy every minute you have and enjoy every bite of every sandwich. Tell the people who you love that you love them. And be. Be kind. Be nice.

Just Be.

We’re all gonna die

Sometime in the late 90’s I started looking at the online edition of the St. Francois County Daily Journal several times a week. Mostly I just look at the obituaries.
The D.J. is the only daily in the county where I was born, where my 92-year old dad lives today and where he has lived the vast majority of his life. My Mom had 4 brothers and 2 sisters. If you don’t count time in the military, none of her siblings ever lived outside the county. The total population of St. Francois County, MO is about 65K.
I know very few people there. I went to grade school and junior college county. After dropping out of school, I got drunk most days. I broke several other laws for most of the next 18 months until I was drafted. I haven’t lived there in almost 50 years. But I skim the obits daily.
The county has 2 Wal-Mart Supercenters. If on a busy Saturday I should camp out at each store for 4 hours, on one of the benches by an exit, I doubt that the number of people I’d recognize, or who would recognize me, would reach double digits. Especially if you don’t count blood relatives. And I’m not sure that my 2nd cousins and I would even notice each other.

These days, and for the past 12 or 15 years, I check out the obits almost every day.
Why?
Primarily for conversation fodder.
And sometimes to feel grateful.

Today the conversations that the 10 or so obits elicit begin with me saying either : “Dad I see that __ __ died. She was 88….” or “Dad, did you know Frankie Weiss? Her dad was Les Weiss.”
Sometimes his answer will take up a good portion of our daily half-hour, give or take.
Other times, question and answer don’t combine for more than a minute.
Some times we’ve got other things to talk about and the topic of who died never comes up…especially during March when it’s basketball tournament time.

My Mom died July 1, 2013. She was 88. I miss her every day. But there were times when calling her could be a huge downer.
If a 16-ounce glass contained 8 ounces of liquid, mom wouldn’t call it half-full…she’d have it verging on being bone dry, especially the last 8 or 9 years.
She did have some health issues. A couple of heart attacks and bypass surgery. But Mom became a whiner…bigly. She could suck the air out of the room that I was calling from a thousand miles away and in a new york minute. “I don’t know why the Lord has done this to me? Why, oh why, oh why??
Mom didn’t have cancer; she wasn’t on dialysis; she didn’t liver failure. Her primary complaint was her back.
I became very good at starting phone calls with a word other than “how.”
Never “How are you?”
No “How are things in Doe Run?”

I decided that the obits would help the conversations become more enjoyable.
I’m a data driven dude. And this data would be fodder. The percentages.
Even after I started every call with something other than the “how” word, Mom would manage to bring up how awful God was treating her. I would quickly say something like this: “I looked at the 10 obituaries in the Journal earlier today, and only 1 of those people was older than you!”
Sometimes she would be older than all 10. It was rare that more than 30% of the 10 were older than her.

Confession: I can be a asshole with my words. I have been called “direct” and foul-mouthed. (Note: I have mellowed and lightened up with age. People will attest to that too.)
Sometimes at my worst (and her whiny worst too) I might spew: “Mom, 9 of the 10 people who are being covered with dirt were younger than you, and not one of them died from chronic back pain….”
But I always continued “…and we need to be thankful for and enjoy every day.”
After 2004, most of the times I said “we gotta enjoy every sandwich Mom…or every piece of pie that you bake!”
Mom would agree. We’d laugh. We’d say “I love you…talk to you tomorrow.”

So that’s the conversation element of checking out the obits.

The gratitude was two fold.
1. I was grateful that I could talk to my folks every day.
2. I was especially grateful when my comeback to Mom’s whining was “….and 4 of the people on the list of 10 were younger than me Mom!!”
Keep in mind that I started doing this many years ago. I wasn’t old enough to draw social security. And some of the 10 who had stopped breathing were younger than me.
I’d often just sit and think about the percentages.
Think.
And give thanks.

The local paper here in Springfield runs a grid most days of those who aren’t having a full “display obituary” published.
The data: Name, Age, Town/State, Death Date, Arrangements.
Today’s grid has 34 names.
My Dad is 92. 7 were older than him. 20.6%
I’m 70. 11 were younger than me. 32.4%
That makes me think. The percentages.
And give thanks.

There are countless songs about death and dying.
The title of this song by one of my favorite bands gets right to the point. The last four lines sum it all up:
“So try not to get upset
Everything is fine
Hey, it’s not that big a deal
We’re all gonna die”

Until then, you know what to do.
Enjoy the sandwich. Give lots of hugs. Lots & Lots of hugs.
And be Kind.

Sing it: we are all Somebody!

The precise order of events:
1. I saw a five word reply to a FB post : “Somebody needs to do something!”
2. A few minutes later, on a different thread in a different group, I saw almost the exact same words.
3. At that very same moment the song that was playing: “Somebody to love” by Queen
4. I do a search on my hard-drive for song titles that include the word “somebody”

Do NOT ask me why I did that search. It just seemed like the right thing to do.
I learned that I have 28 songs on my laptop with the word “somebody” in the title.
Here are my “Favorite Somebody Seven” in the order they were released, with a few favorite lyrics.

1. “Somebody to Love” was written by Darby Slick, Grace’s brother-in-law. Jefferson Airplane covered it on their second album, and their first with Grace. “Surrealistic pillow” was released in early 1967.
“Tears are running down and down and down your breast
And your friends, baby they treat you like a guest
Don’t you want somebody to love
Don’t you need somebody to love…”

2. “Somebody to Love” was released by Queen in 1976 on their “Day at the races” album.
“I get down on my knees and I start to pray
‘Til the tears run down from my eyes
Lord, somebody (somebody), ooh somebody
(Please) can anybody find me somebody to love?”

3. My favorite singer-songwriter wrote the highest charting single of his career for the movie “Fast times at ridgemont high” in 1982. The first time “Somebody’s baby” was released on an album was 15 years later when “The next voice you hear” hit the streets.
My daughter was only when that CD was released. I doubt she remembers, but whenever that song played I would sing along and tell her that the song was written for her….
“I try to shut my eyes, but I can’t get her outta my sight….
…Yeah, she’s gonna be somebody’s only light”
4. This song always gave me dancing feet, ever since I first saw this video in the fairly early days of MTV, back when they played music. It got mixed reviews when it was released in 1987…and won a Grammy. Go figure.
“Oh, I wanna dance with somebody
I wanna feel the heat with somebody
Yeah, I wanna dance with somebody
With somebody who loves me…”

5. I’ve written about this song before. It is one of my “First Time Tunes.” It’s the fourth track on “Only by the Night.” Released in December, 2008 by some of my favorite preacher’s kids. This is one of my absolute favorite songs.
“You know that I could use somebody
Someone like you, and all you know, and how you speak…”

6. This song was released by Gotye after my marriage was over. I had been back in MO for several months when it came out in late 2011. “Somebody that I used to know” resonated.
“Now and then I think of when we were together…
…Now you’re just somebody that I used to know”

7. Jack Antonoff wrote this one about the loss of his sister when he was only 18. Bleachers released the album “Gone now” in 2017. I’ve listened to this album a lot. It includes a song that is on my “play it at my wake” list.
This is not that song, and “Everybody lost somebody” is not my favorite song on the album.
But everybody has lost somebody. And that is gonna keep happening….
“I know that I’m lost
Lost in a world without you
And there’s a reason I wake up alone in strange places…
…Knowing everybody lost somebody”

The Peon’s Court

I am not in the least bit ashamed to admit to my guilty pleasure: for the past several years on most weekdays I have lunch with a hot Latin redhead. On Friday’s I get lucky when my hot Hawg-loving girlfriend makes it a threesome.
Yes…I watch “The People’s Court” with Judge Marilyn Milian (“the hottest judge on television”) at noon on KOZL, channel 27 here in Springfield. MO. Shelly joins us most Fridays.

I am proud of the fact that one of the highlights of my 14 years with Arthur Andersen revolves around that TV show.
The People’s Court made it’s debut in mid-September of 1981. I was finishing up my last quarter at Oregon State. Back then I was eating lunch with Judge Wapner. Until I moved to PDX and became a cube rat at AA&Co. in May of ’82, I watched that show most days.

Flash forward 4 years to June of 1986.
I was 1 of the team of 10 new managers in Andersen’s Portland office: 5 consultants (system nerds); 1 auditor (bean counter); and 4 tax geeks (including me).
We were charged with providing the entertainment for the first evening of the Partner/Manager Retreat…where we worked hard and played hard…like every day at AA&Co.
Roasting senior managers and partners was part of our charge…which had an element of risk. Some of those in the audience weren’t known for their sense of humor, especially at their expense….
We pow-wowed a couple of times and came up with several activities.
The highlight of the evening was “The Peon’s Court.” We had three skits, roasting the leaders of each division.

In each skit my friend Dave Evans played the role of Judge “Hairy” Demorest…including wearing a shaggy wig to emulate the office managing partner’s hair style.

At the retreat, as we started our skits, Harry was flanked in the back row by a couple of “big unit” partners. We didn’t know that members of the firmwide board of partners would be in the audience. If we had known, we might have toned it down quite a bit. But probably not…

For the life of me, I cannot remember the skit roasting the audit division leadership. But the other 2 are etched deep into my memory.

I played Hank Laun in “Asleep at the close” in the second skit.
The head of the Portland consulting division was a class act. Everyone liked Hank Laun. Our skit was based on something that apparently had happened on more than one occasion as he was wrapping up a candidate’s in-office interview.
My script read something like this: Feet up on the desk. Ask a softball question. Hands behind your head. Close your eyes. Lean back in your chair. Toss another softball. Snore a bit. Fall over backwards. Hop up…shake hands…and ask when the candidate can start.
The crowd roared. Hank loved it. Everyone did.

The head of the tax division (my direct supervisor) was named Brian Murphy. He was about five-six. He was never around. This was before cell phones. Getting ahold of him was challenging.
And his writing made the tweeting twit in the oval office seem like a Pulitzer prize winner.
I played the role of prosecuting attorney.
We charged Brian with “premeditated murder of the English language.” We tried him “In absentia.” Mike Morgan played the role of Brian and testified via phone….on his knees he wasn’t much shorter than our HOTD.

I presented three key pieces of evidence: 2 memos to the entire Tax Division that Brian had written, and one letter to a client. I displayed them on the big screen….including all of my edits and editorial comments. I was BRUTAL!! (what a shock, eh?)
Misspelled words. Run-on sentences. Incomplete sentences. Fubar punctuation. One of the memos was three-fourths of a page long….and one paragraph. I bled all over all three pathetic docs.

I caught the reactions from the guys sitting next to Harry as I was “making my case.” The audit mucky-muck leaned over and said “this is a joke, right?” Harry just smiled….and said “no. that is a real memo.”
I probably shouldn’t have included the client letter. The high-unit consultant’s reaction was almost exactly the same as my client’s when he received the letter from Brian that announced he was going to be the engagement partner.
The first words I heard from my client Mike when I answered the phone: “What the fuck is this? Who the hell is this guy? Did anybody proofread this word salad shit?”
That evening at the retreat, the words from George Shaheen (google him!) to Harry: “Are you fucking kidding me?!?” HLD just smiled that smile.
Brian laughed that night. But I don’t think he loved it like most folks in the crowd did.

The rest of that evening is a blur.

Let it grow. Or not…

Yesterday I made “an announcement” to 3 friends as we traveled the back roads from Pittsburg, KS to Springfield. Maybe only 2 of them heard me; Bruce mighta been snoozing at the time.
We were coming home after a fantastic house concert by Paul Thorn at the Coda Concert House in Joplin and a fabulous Sunday morning brunch whipped up by Rob&Carol at their place.
The 6 of us met for a bite before the show, had a drink after at a hipster bar, and then sat around until past the witching hour telling yarns.
The vittles; the tunes; the libations; the conversation; the drive.
Smile and Smile again and again.

My “announcement”?

It was a resolution based on something that popped into my head right after Paul Thorn sang my favorite song (“you might be wrong”)…and I wasn’t sure if I would even share my thinking with Shelly. But as we looked for the camel farm (Jeanette swears it’s somewhere out there in western Missouri….someday we’ll find it!!) the thought popped into my head again, and my internal conversation was: “if I keep this idea to myself, I’ll never carry through!”
Right then and there I decided to share it with my blue highways chums.

Now I’m going public…with the exception of one detail.
That detail is political. Some people who I love will judge me for it. I understand that. (Listen to Paul Thorn’s “I don’t like half the people I love.”)
So I’m keeping that detail on a “need to know” basis….

My “resolution”?

It’s all about my hair….and when to cut it.
I have never been all that fond of barber shops or clip joints. (And that was even before I lost a LOT of money in a hair cutting franchise, which included a legal battle with the Faux Cowboy Franchisor….)

In the past couple of weeks a few people have commented on the length of my locks.
My next door neighbor: “this is the longest your hair has been since I’ve known you.”
My Dad: “your Mom and I didn’t care about how long you boys let you hair grow as long as you kept it clean.” (My memory of those pre- and post-Army conversations re my hair length are a tad bit different. Just sayin’)
Another friend in the building: “I think you’re about ready for a ponytail. My son has one.”
None of the comments came across as complaints…

Keeping an electronic journal has some advantages, e.g. I know that I got my last haircut at 2 pm on Wednesday, March 15 at the Supercuts at 1306 E. Battlefield from my “regular stylist” Whitney. She has given me my last 3 cuts. Before 3/25/17 she took the shears to me in May of 2017 and April of 2016. (I really don’t like barber chairs….)

So here’s my announcement/resolution:
I am not getting a haircut until either:
(1) my hair is long enough to donate to Locks of Love without having to get a buzz cut, or
(2) a certain event takes place.

Re the latter, I did say that it is political…and I will say this much: it has nothing to do with someone else sitting behind the desk in the oval office. (That will be cause for letting my hair down, for celebrating and for partying like mad….but it is not the condition that will result in me finding out if Whitney is still wielding the tools of her trade.)

I’m expecting to have my first ponytail sometime in 2019.
Shelly is talking about me wearing a man bun.
So far nobody has said anything about me getting dreads.

I’m at 349 days and counting.

Bucket List Update

Man-oh-man do I need to get busy or what??
I have been a total sluggard since I posted my bucket list just a bit short of two years ago, mid-march of ’17. Yet somehow I was diagnosed with fatigue on my birthday last September and advised to slow down…
And I had TOTALLY forgotten about the “My ultimate bucket list” book that I had snatched from the bargain bin…which has been ignored.

The first 8 items on my bucket list from 12/3/12 are still there. Untouched. Many not even thought about. Maybe I need to do something about that, at least for a few of them.
I also need to add one:
“Go up in a single engine plane with Dad and Wayne.” (Short version: I won a 2 hour flight at a silent auction fundraiser. That was back in late 2017. We haven’t been able to make Dad and Wayne’s schedules mesh.
I have never seen Wayne. We have exchanged several texts. We’ve chatted on the phone some. Wayne has offered to fly to Farmington where we’d pick up/drop off Tissell*. That would depend on whether Dad was coming over to stay with my sister, or if he was heading home to Doe Run. Dad would love flying across the state.
We’d take the longer, scenic, southern route with Dad in the plane. That trip would take a lot more than 2 hours. Wayne didn’t have to offer this.
I had heard that he was a fine guy the night that I stole the flight, valued at $800, for only $180 bucks. Without even laying eyes on Wayne I’m positive that he is a helluva guy. I expect Tissell* to feel the same way. Now I just need to get Wayne, me and the 92+ year old up in the air!!)

Back to my B.L.
I did get to the Rock-n-Roll HOF in 2013. But we were only there for a few hours. Not nearly long enough. I need to get back there. 2019 seems like it would be a good year to visit Cleveland….and Wooster.
This time I need to plan my trip so that I can knock off the next item on the list. And the one before too. I’m thinking I will be able to experience weightlessness on some of the 17 roller coasters at Cedar Point…tied for second most in the world.

The item “Take a road trip thru the lower 48” lacks precision. I think it would be very cool to take one roadtrip that did get you into all 48, but I’m not sure that is what I had in mind. I have taken a road trip or 3 since 12/3/12, and will be taking more. As for now, I’d like to cross off the remaining 18 that I haven’t been in since then. Visiting 30 so far is not all that shabby…

Of the last 12 B.L. items, I .can only cross off two of them, both music related: we’ve seen 3 shows at Red Rocks; and Jackson Browne 4 times.
-=-=-=
My 12/3/12 Bucket List has 24 items.
I have been able to cross off only 4. (and that includes a favorable interpretation of the roadtrip item…)
That is pretty pathetic.
And unless I win lotto, unexpectedly inherit a huge chunck of change or become friends with someone like Edward Cole (Jack Nicholson’s character in the movie) I most likely won’t cross off many of the other items on the list, although they aren’t really all that spendy.
That’s OK, because if I wrote the list today a bunch of earlier items wouldn’t make the list. They’d be replaced with things like this:
Take a road trip that includes: seeing old friends; visiting new venues; eating something delicious with old friends; making plans to see each other again.

Venues would have a separate list:
9:30 Club in D.C.
The Tower Theatre in Upper Darby
Stubbs in Austin
…just to name a few

So would artists:
Adele
War on Drugs
Don Henley
…and more. LOTS more.

Someday soon I need to finally take that spin thru the bargain bin b.l. book. I’ll leave it here beside my laptop for awhile and see what happens….

NOTE:
*Tissell is my dad’s abbreviated nickname.
Melvin’s full moniker: Melviney You-Tissell You-Bertel You-Tom-Tom Bud Fartner
There is story there.
That’s for another time.
Be.