Feels Like a Sunday

It’s Saturday, but it feels like a Sunday. Perhaps it’s because of the pseudo-blizzard that hit late Thursday night into Friday that paralyzed a large portion of people who live in the Middle of Nowhere, New York state. I live in the Middle of Nowhere, New York state, if you haven’t guessed yet. While my kids enjoyed a second consecutive snow day (I think maybe there was ice or something on Thursday that kept them out — I had to work) my wife and I got to join in the fun.

Which, of course, means today is our second consecutive day here. But we aren’t just playing board games and listening to Patti Smith. We are also doing a truckload of laundry, helping clean the kitchen, and Maddie could even be found using the Swiffer this morning on the shocking amount of dust that might have been in my private study. Shhh. It’s not the only dust in this place.

And, of course, right now it’s pretty outside, which is the tradeoff of living in the Middle of Nowhere, New York state, a winter wonderland that never fails to amaze me when I part the curtains. It doesn’t seem to matter what part of the year we’re in, by the way, there’s always a chance of finding that winter wonderland outside the glass. I might shovel later, but I’m going to try and stay inside as long as I can. I’ve never been an outdoors person, and wintertime is no exception.

I’ve been grading like a dervish this morning into this afternoon, taking advantage of most of my classes having work they submitted before all this snow came down. I may be crazy, though, because I emailed all of the students who for whatever reason didn’t submit the assignments, letting them know I’m here for them, whatever their reasons were for the oversight. I like to think it means something to them, that I took time out of my day, off from grading their classmates.

So yes, it feels like a Sunday, but not in all aspects. For one, with the Super Bowl over, I don’t have any NFL to watch, either today or tomorrow (don’t get me started about the XFL). I have been steadying myself with the loss by watching the story of the 2019 Eagles on Prime. It’s much more interesting than trying to figure out who won the Iowa caucuses, in my humble opinion.

The coffee is calling my name right now, but I only have one mug clean. Of course, one is always enough. Now, if I could just get rid of this insomnia. Maybe on Sunday.

All the World’s a Stage

I like stages. I always have, though I never wanted to be in a theater production, though I never wanted to be some other character waxing eloquently with another’s words venturing forth from my mouth. But I like stages. The lights, the spotlight particularly, being in front of several hundred people all looking at me, nodding along with me, smiling along with me, like I’m some puppeteer and they’re the marionettes. Just without the strings.

Today I was on a stage. The lights were a little too bright, so I couldn’t see the faces of those out in the audience. I had to guess instead if they were with me, if they were following along or merely looked to be that way. Sometimes I wonder if I look that way to others who are also under the bright lights, squinting out at me through a haze, hoping I’m with them.

I guess in a way I’m on some kind of stage every day. In fact, today I guess I could say I was on five stages — four of the classroom variety, and one that was an actual stage. Of course my teaching style means I’m more of a “guide on the side” than a “sage on the stage,” but I do hold court on occasion. I like initiating the contact, and they give me something back in return. It’s a wonderfully blissful experience, most of the time, when they care to participate, when it’s not 8 AM, when they have their coffee IV’s firmly affixed.

But being on the actual stage reminded me how much I love it. I used to be in those stage productions, by the way, back in elementary school. I used to be the main character, or the town villager, or tree #3, whatever let me see the stage from my favorite side. It didn’t really matter how I got to see it. Somehow, though, as I got older, either my passion died out, or I forgot how much it made me tingle being up there, on display, for everyone to see, and judge, and see again the next time I was up there. I got caught up in life, in doing for others, in achieving a different sort of dream, and I forgot what it was like.

To breathe.

To inhale and let it rush all over me, cleansing me from the outside in, giving me a new lease on life. Maybe I need to spend more time on a stage, to give in to those long ignored feelings, because on some level I feel like I need it. I’m no longer that rangy twelve-year old, no longer the kid with an entire future left to be written. I have only so many more Sundays, and I want to spend them where I’m feeling alive.

And I haven’t done much lately that feeds my soul, outside of my chosen occupation, that is, but it’s different to do what you love and get paid for it. Quite another to have that spare time and do it simply because I love it, getting nothing in return but the satisfaction of having done it, of being absolutely in love with it. The stage calls.

I wonder if I’ll answer.

43.

Year 1 must have been fun. I was the center of attention, the new “bundle of joy” that burped, burbled, smiled, laughed, and occasionally cried. But there was nothing else that could compete with these dimples. Of course I don’t remember any of it. My mom says I was a little nightmare, but I’m going to go ahead and assume she meant perhaps toddler stage. At 1, I was a treasure.

I do remember year 6, and kindergarten, and making new friends. Okay, so there were really only 2 friends, but that’s 2 more friends than many others can lay claim to even now. Hmmm. Do I have 2 solid friends right now? But yes, in year 6 I learned how to tie my shoes, to count numbers, and of course the art of manipulation. I know I was fascinated with the shadows and light on the television screen back then. Maybe I still am.

Then there was year 22, which started off with a bang, even though year 21 ended so poorly. I’ll spare you the details, but suffice it to say I didn’t go through the rites of passage in quite the order they were supposed to be experienced. It was the first time I realized how stupid I was, how complex the world was, and how far I was away from the person I hoped I was going to end up being.

It was also the first time I realized time is finite, that I wasn’t going to live forever. Funny how much that realization changes everything.

Year 32 was full of so many new experiences too. I was a family man, and the family was finally complete, though at the time I thought there might still be a new addition or two forthcoming. On some level I’m glad that didn’t happen, because from this side of the glass everything is perfect how it is, but on another level I still held out hope for another seismic shift to the dynamic.

And now I am reminiscing on year 43, which was full of tradition, a lot of firsts, and just a warm and fuzzy feeling I haven’t had for a very long time. Continue reading “43.”

Orlando, Part V: City of Tomorrow

“Dad, how is EPCOT different from the Magic Kingdom?”

“Well, I always think of it as the Magic Kingdom is for rides, and EPCOT is for walking and seeing what there is to see.”

“Uh, and what is there to see?”

“Characters! Characters as far as the eye can see!”

“Good, cuz there were hardly any in the Magic Kingdom”

Which was true, of course, though not too many people like to point that out ahead of time. If the Magic Kingdom is for inhaling the magic, then EPCOT is for bringing that magic to life and interacting with it. There were no fewer than 20 characters brought to life that we wanted to meet on that Wednesday when we rolled out of bed and got ourselves ready for Day 2 of our park journey. I’ll admit it was kind of sad to me that we would not be going back to the Magic Kingdom, but I was looking forward to the more expansive, more wide open EPCOT.

From the start, it was obvious it would be a different kind of trip that day. After parking in a smaller parking lot there was no need to ride the monorail as we were already there! Going through the gates was a much simpler process because there were fewer people and because we had gone through the procedure with the magic bands a couple of days before. We were veterans by that point, grabbing the wheelchair for Madeline and getting moving right away. Straight off I saw Pluto chilling, taking pictures with newly arriving guests.

It was a sign of things to come. After he put his paw over Alexa’s face, and we all laughed, we took a few pictures, he signed the girls’ autograph books (on his nose), and we took off for one of only four rides we would go on that day: Spaceship Earth. Continue reading “Orlando, Part V: City of Tomorrow”

Orlando, Part IV: Disney Springs

I have to say that when I woke up that Tuesday morning I thanked my wife big time for scheduling “break” days within our Park program, because my legs ached, I was exhausted mentally, and so was everyone else after the chaos of the Magic Kingdom deep into Monday night. It was the equivalent of working hard on your feet all day, knowing you have a relaxing weekend to look forward too — except that the “work” was one of the most amazing days of your life.

If there are any big takeaways I can give from the Magic Kingdom, these are they…

  1. There just aren’t enough characters there, but it gives more time for rides, shows, and just soaking in the atmosphere of the place.
  2. The place truly is larger than life. Standing in front of Cinderella’s Castle it feels like you’re really in front of Cinderella’s Castle.
  3. If you stay late enough, you can go on pretty much any ride without waiting in line. We got to do the Haunted Mansion when time was running out without waiting at all, even though the attendant at first said the ride was closed.
  4. Everyone really is a big kid once inside the gates. I felt such elation just getting to be there.

But that was over, and as much fun as it was, we wouldn’t be headed back there on this trip, so I hoped the kids had enjoyed the park as much, or hopefully even more so than we did. All the pictures came up within minutes on our Disney app, which was fascinating too, because we were chronicling the trip step by step along the way, and it was visual to everyone. We spent some time on Tuesday morning scrolling through them and recounting memories we had of the day. Continue reading “Orlando, Part IV: Disney Springs”

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