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”

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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

It’s Complicated

“You let me complicate you.” ~Nine Inch Nails

I find it pretty hilarious when you look at someone’s relationship status, and it says “It’s complicated,” because all relationships are complicated, to an extent. I think the idea of “It’s complicated” came about because of the lack of definition most relationships seem to have these days. It’s hard to find girlfriends and boyfriends anymore because everyone is so intent on being single unless otherwise noted.

But we as a society don’t seem to care about this lack of definition. We are all about labels, so when a relationship is undefined we feel the need to define it, to slap a big label on it so others can sufficiently judge it. It’s like how employees in retail wear nametags so we can call them Sid, and Nancy, so we can feel like we know them just that much better because we know their names. Status is the same.

Remember when you used to hang out at bars, and it was all about trying to figure out if the hot girl in the group at the far table was single. What did single mean to you? Did it mean was she not married? Did it mean she had a boyfriend who you could displace? Did it mean she was totally unencumbered with none of the above? Remember how you wished you could just hand her a slip of paper asking her status? If she had circled “It’s complicated,” would you have continued your pursuit?

To me, “It’s complicated” means she’s probably in a relationship with someone who is a placeholder, or they’ve been through some issues and she’s now unsure if they will go the distance. Continue reading “It’s Complicated”

I Live in New York

“I live in New York.”

Such an innocent phrase, but one fraught with a sort of complication from the outset. When I tell people this, in response to their question of where I live, they almost always launch into their memories of the city that never sleeps. They tell me about how they visited “the Village,” or how they loved Times Square on New Year’s. Or a plethora of other tales that I inevitably have to interrupt.

“Not the city. I live upstate.”

Then they look at me as if I’ve grown two heads, or in disgust because they thought I’d deliberately misled them. When, for me, it’s simply easier for me to say New York and try to move on. Saying “Upstate” makes me sound a bit snooty. “I have an estate upstate.” So I say “I live in New York,” and steady myself for the onslaught that is likely to come from the final reveal.

I’ll admit that sometimes I wish the city was called something else, that the good people who created this great state didn’t name it the same as its largest city. It’s not like Oklahoma City, in that if I said “I’m going to Oklahoma City,” you know I don’t mean the state, and vice versa. It’s not like there weren’t about a million others names out there, but no one of significance decided this was a faux pas.

“I’m confused,” they tell me. “What do you mean upstate?”

And I have to tell them I live about halfway between Syracuse, a pretty big city in its own right, and Albany, the erstwhile state capital. Continue reading “I Live in New York”

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