One of the Crowd

I have always hated being one of the crowd. For as long as I can remember, it was always imperative to me to maintain some semblance of difference from the “unwashed masses” who listened to the same music, who read the same books, who did the same things in their spare time.

I fought hard against being the same as anyone else. If you told me everyone liked the color blue, I would have told you I hated it (even though I have no feelings whatsoever for the color blue). If you told me everyone was drinking white wine, I would have preferred red, for no other reason than that everyone was drinking white.

Of course, after a time, this default setting of mine to be different made me forget that sometimes I really did agree with the majority. Sometimes I found myself swaying to Britney Spears, reading and enjoying John Grisham novels whilst drinking white wine. Sometimes I found myself hating that I loved something, simply because everyone else loved it and that made me normal. Continue reading “One of the Crowd”

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Smells Like Vanilla

“Struck brightly by the winter, when the snow falls thick and silent, I can only hear you breathing.” ~Matt Pond PA

I miss the smell of freshly fallen snow. When we were kids I used to dive into it, just lie there all clean, just waiting to get washed in white. It wasn’t about the snow angels, or about the snowmen, or even about catching snow on my tongue, even though I did all of those things. It was just about the symbiotic relationship. I fed off the snow, and it off me, as I carved out a spot in its purity for my incomplete self.

It didn’t matter that my coats were often ratty and full of holes. It made no difference that on my block the snow was mostly black instead of white, with car exhausts wreaking havoc almost before it had even landed. I would always find a patch on the postage stamp-sized front lawn and turn it into my utopia. I would lie there with my face turned sideways, my lips nearly blue, smelling that vanilla goodness. I closed my eyes and pretended it was heaven.

I closed my eyes and pretended it was heaven.

Sam

Everyday Miracles

miracle: a highly improbable or extraordinary event.

I believe in miracles.

No, not the kind where angels show up and do magical things. Not the kind where the lilting sounds of strings betray a majestic happening. Not even the kind where a fairy tosses dust that makes everyone fly.

I believe in honest-to-goodness down home miracles. The kind where people who have been estranged for years reconnect. The kind where “Odds be damned! We made it happen!” The kind where the little people triumph over the big ones.

I believe in everyday miracles.

But miracles take work. No one just sat around and complained about something, did nothing to make a change, and things happened anyway. No one just wished upon a star and things magically changed. That’s not the way the world works, and I wouldn’t want it to anyway. Because when we get things that are not the substance of our efforts, we tend to take them for granted. Or lose them. Or both.

Miracles take work because life is work. I have a friend who often says, “I’m not a pessimist. I’m a realist.” And I appreciate her assessment of her situation, but I don’t think it’s true. Being a realist means having room in your mind for those inexplicable, improbable events that color life in the most spectacular of ways. Because that’s real.

Because everyday miracles happen all the time. We just have to be doing our part to make sure we don’t miss them.

Sam

Here Comes the Judge

“To judge others is human. To keep your opinion about others to yourself is having class.” ~Anonymous

Judging others is as easy as breathing. We do it from the start of any and all interactions with others.

“His name is Norman?”

“She has big ears.”

“Why does his nose whistle when he talks?”

“His suit is loud.”

We do it so much without thinking, but luckily most of us have filters that stop us from saying these things in the moment. Our brains sort through all the judgments and hopefully land on positive (or at least neutral) things to say. Maybe the old adage is best: “If you can’t say anything good, don’t say anything at all.” Or the biblical quote about the plank in your eye. Or the pot calling the kettle black psychology. Whichever you subscribe to, let it rule your mind in those moments.

In our society, though, I’ve noticed anyway that too many people feel empowered to say all those negative things we used to always keep to ourselves (or just tell our closest friends, who tell their closest friends…). Instead of these thoughts dissipating, they gather steam on social media. They marinate and infuse every ounce of our interactions with others. They are personal comments that belong to us, but they seep out into the social realm where we can’t take them back. Continue reading “Here Comes the Judge”

All is Quiet

“All is quiet on New Year’s Day. A world in white gets underway.” ~U2

When I was working at the pizza buffet we would place bets on when the first customer would come in on New Year’s Day. Closest to the time got a free pie. I always bet the over, so if the latest time was noon, I would say 12:01. More often than not I was right too. You’d think others would have realized it at least one of the three New Year’s Days I worked there.

I always bet the over because I knew what everyone should know. While New Year’s Eve is full of all the pomp and circumstance, all the parties and excitement, all the balloons and revelry, even the giant ball descending from above, it leaves nothing for its counterpart on the other side of midnight. Well, it leaves exhausted people who just want to sleep as much as they possibly can.

That’s why New Year’s morning is always dead. Not many cars on the road. Not many people out and about. Not much at all. Which of course is in direct conflict with the idea of New Year’s, that everything is now vibrant with life, that the flipping of the calendar somehow makes it so. Instead, as the sun rises on a new year, all is quiet. And I love it. I love when things don’t match what they’re supposed to be, because it means there’s a chance the year will bring some positive surprises too.

So what am I doing up? Shhh. I’m not really.

Sam

2018, In Memoriam

I imagine this is how the chaps and dames felt as the clock motored down to close out 1918, totally unsure of what awaited in 1919, but hopeful that it would be better than what they were leaving behind. As December bled into January of a new year, I imagine them dancing their dances, and drinking their last tastes of liquor before Prohibition would officially kick in during the coming year.

But it’s 100 years later, and what has changed? We are still watching the clock, albeit the small ones on our phones instead of Big Ben. We are still hopeful that next year will be better than this one we will be leaving behind. As another year in a “new” millennium gives way to the next, it’s easy to be complacent, to think that it’s just another day. But how many days are promised to us?

Time moves on, and as 2018 comes to a close, I’m reminded of it more than a little bit. I’m reminded of the precious nature of that time, and why we should savor it. So, as tradition holds, I’m looking back on the time I spent this year. Saying goodbye to the year that was.

  1. In 2018, I started my dream job. I had to pinch myself as the clock turned on the new year because the reality of it all was just so enormous. Not just for me, but for my family as well.
  2. In 2018, I wrote a novel, from start to finish. I am deep into the process of editing it, but just finishing the book was a monumental achievement, one that I can’t just dismiss as “something I do” anymore.
  3. In 2018, I traveled to Philadelphia thrice. It’s always wonderful to go back to the city of my birth, even though I haven’t lived there in over 20 years at this point. Seeing my mother, my sister, and my nephew is soothing to my soul.
  4. In 2018, I got to see my nephew graduate from college. It was a long, hard journey, but just watching him walk down that aisle and receive his diploma was a beautiful sight.
  5. In 2018, I joined a flash fiction group. I’ve been a writer for a long time, and I’ve been in several writer groups over the years, but they were all short-lived. This one seems more permanent, and I enjoy it very much.
  6. In 2018, I celebrated my 15th wedding anniversary. If you had told me 20 years ago that I would be celebrating my 15th wedding anniversary this year I would have called you bonkers, but it all seems so natural at this point.
  7. In 2018, I bought a new vehicle. After having the Santa Fe for nearly 10 years, it was time.
  8. In 2018, I revived a friendship. You know how it feels when someone disappears from your life? I had finally made my peace with it, but my friend returned from out of nowhere and I am hopeful we can regain what we had as we roll into the new year.
  9. In 2018, I met one of my biggest influences. Lyrics have always been a big part of my life. I’ve always felt close to those who can write their words down and set them to melody, especially when I personally feel those words. Meeting Marc Cohn was one of the highlights of my life so far.
  10. In 2018, I attended three concerts. Going to see Live (with the Counting Crows), the Gin Blossoms, and Marc Cohn was a lovely trifecta of shows that crossed a few things off my shallow pail list (I have no buckets).
  11. In 2018, I celebrated the Eagles winning the Super Bowl. This was one thing I had always hoped and wished for, but as a lifelong Eagles fan I could never truly envision it… until it happened. Foles forever.

I will honestly miss 2018, but I’m so excited for what’s in store in 2019. It’s always fascinating to me when years end, because they’re never really ending. The seeds we’ve sown in 2018 will flower and bloom in 2019, and will create a whole new list of experiences that will carry us along. I look forward to the journey.

Sam

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