Being on vacation is what I consider to be an integral part of the employment process. It's a time to reset and recharge if you will. But being away also helps you see what's good in your life… sometimes by accident.
I spend an 8 day span on a cruise ship sailing to the Bahamas this month, and I must admit it was much needed. The warmth of the tropics and the sheer lack of responsibility was a great change of pace, and an appropriate break from the everyday drag that life can sometimes provide.
Since I was headed into a place where cell service is almost impossible, I had made an agreement with my fiancé Erika that I would only be in contact with her in the case of an emergency due to the extraordinary expense of the charges that an international rate or a ship-to-shore line would ensure ($2.49/min.for calls and .50 for every text). Thus we would only talk once when I was in Florida at the half-way point, and not again until I was back in New York at the journeys end. This turned out to be more difficult than I had initially imagined.
Days 1 & 2 were a blur of drinking, spring sunshine, humongous buffets and getting to know our ship. Days 4 & 5 were all about Florida planning, landing and enjoying. The trip was going along as planned, then came an unexpected moment in the trip.
As the Jumkanoo Beach sun warmed us on our 2nd stop (in Nassau on day 7) I laid there and heard the soft padding of some people shuffling through the sand behind our towel positions. The gaggle of twenty something men and women set up camp within twenty feet of us and were talking and drinking rather loudly.
One of the girls was being playfully tormented by her boyfriend and began to laugh at his relentless musings about her lack of a tan. When she finally was able to obtain an appropriate revenge (most of this happening while I had my eyes closed) she laughed… and I hear the sound of home. Her laughter was shockingly similar to that of my fiancé, eerily so in fact.
From that moment forward it was impossible to ignore the sound of her happiness, and even more impossible to keep my girl out of my thoughts.
I began to wonder what my future wife was up to. Yeah, I had called her two days prior but it was short, and kinda terse, and to boot she was at the mall at the time, so she had a tough time talking, thus it turned out to be a short and sort of "pointless" conversation. I began wondering a few things as I baked in the Bahama sunshine: How as her day? Was she sad in the cold Northeast weather? Was her work busy and difficult like it can be on Mondays? Was she safe? ... and then came the biggest realization of all: I missed her, a lot.
Vacationing separately is by no means awful, but when your life has recently changed in the big way mine has, it's hard to go back to where you have already been … when your vacation ends it's bittersweet; hearing that laughter in person was, for me, the sweet part.
Long before there was LeBron James and Kobe Bryant, before Michael Jordan and Allen Iverson, even before there was a Van Halen or Billy Joel poster on my wall… there was Dr. J.
As a pre-teen in the early and mid-seventies I was obsessed with the Philadelphia 76ers, but most especially their all-star forward Julius Erving. My parents had to, for the first time, adjust to me not being at the post-church Sunday dinner table (usually the best meal of the entire week) because I would take my plate and sit alone in the living room, using a flimsy folding TV tray table, because I couldn’t miss a single game of the Sixers season. I had an idol worship to Dr. J. that bordered on obsession. I watched his every on-court move and every off-court interview. I bought his magazines and posters, I clipped his articles out of newspapers, I even once fished a ripped poster out of the high school garbage can because it was just too much for me to let a Sixers picture of that scope go to a landfill… (it still hangs on the ceiling in my room to this day), and all because of Dr. J.
On this past Wednesday I got the rare chance to come face to face with the first man to inspire me during my formative years. As a stood in a South Philly liquor store (he is now a spokesperson for Crown Royal) with my new white 76ers hat amidst a sea of fans, I couldn’t help but notice how different I was than them. I watched in awe as he ducked to enter the door of the warehouse where us "VIP’s" were being allowed to meet him. I was introduced as the media member of the group, and a morning show host and a lifelong fan, and etc. etc… but I wasn’t listening, instead I was staring (yes, like a tweener) at Dr. J.
I was remembering how he would defy gravity before an entire generation of people, me included, believed it was possible... I drifted off to the days when I would wish that I could dunk, at all, not mention with the same ease that he could… I thought of how when the Sixers swept the world championships in 1982-83 that he didn’t talk about how great he’d played (He should’ve won MVP) but instead he said: “We had a lot”.
One by one the mass of people in line before me got a pic and a friendly handshake and then walked past me. Some looked at me wondering why I stood there with such a glazed look on my face. Some of them I’m sure were wondering why a pudgy, middle aged, white, country radio DJ, from Scranton had driven 2+ hours to meet a 6’7” greying guy in a suit who’d retired over 20 years ago… my answer to them is simple: I understand... I have the same reverence for Dr. J that you do.
To me Julius Erving is among the few men who taught me to win with the same grace and dignity that you should try to lose with. He was an innovator in his field, and did things other people couldn’t, or at least they never thought to, or maybe never attempted to; and when he excelled, he humbly spoke of his teammate’s contributions that made it possible for him to do his magic. He was never a showboat or a grandstander and is an example of a type of professional sportsman that is completely extinct.
Yeah sure he’s one of Sports Illustrated 40 most important athletes of all time, but to me he served as an ambassador for all of us small town underdogs who needed someone to convince us that we could be superheroes, and he did that…
On a scale of one to 10, how much of a germ-phobe are you?
Well according to: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/03/140310102212.htm, if you’ve ever dropped your food on the ground and then picked it up within five seconds, you’re probably going to live because a new study says the five-second rule is real and totally works.
Researchers found that the longer food stays in contact with the floor, the better the chances of it picking up nasty funk like E.coli.
But, of course, you still need to use common sense. If you drop a slice of pizza upside down in a bus stop bathroom, it’s got to stay there!
Lent… a time when many Christians prepare for Easter by observing a period of fasting, repentance, moderation and spiritual discipline. In Western Christianity, Ash Wednesday marks the first day, or the start of the season of Lent, which begins 40 days prior to Easter (Sundays are not included in the count).During the 6 weeks (or 40 days preceding Palm Sunday) an item that you are very attached to is chosen to “sacrifice” or basically not indulge in for the duration of the Lenten season.
Not all Christian churches observe Lent. Lent is mostly observed by the Lutheran, Methodist, Presbyterian and Anglican denominations, and also by Roman Catholics, thus I am off the hook for this (since we are Baptist) but somehow I always seem to feel like I should participate in some way.
Since the idea seemed to be something I could no longer ignore I swung into action. I took a small survey on line at a site called BuzzFeed.com about what they suggested I abstain from and it said: television! Really? TV? I actually can’t, for the sake of my job, discontinue watching television!
So I asked a few friends and co-workers what they thought: Booze was their answer. An excellent idea, and one I agree should, and will be eliminated from my diet eventually, but with a celebrity roast, an epic parade, and then the first of two cruises literally all literally weeks apart, it would seem unrealistic to think it possible to completely eliminate alcohol from my diet.
Then it hit me… what would I miss more than life itself and still be able to side step completely without a chance of being “required” to partake in its consumption? The answer: Chicken Wings.
Yes for the next 6 weeks, a long and agonizing 40 days I might add, I will be giving up wings… for lent. Sigh! Wish me strength and God’s speed.
Dear God... it’s me, Eric. I need to ask if you can help with something.
We here in NEPA have been a reasonably good bunch of folks and Erika, Piper and I have been on the upper end of the “well behaved” scale this past year, so I hope that can leverage us a little influence in the miracle granting department.
Last week there was so much ice and snow built up on the back deck of the house that I had a puddle of water seeping into the carpeting of the new addition! It was so thick that I had to use a shovel to chip a hole into it to allow the draining water somewhere to go!
My hands are cracking with the cold conditions, I have fallen twice (that never happened in a season) and my oil bill is historic, not to mention that we did in fact break a 100 year old snowfall record for the month of February!
I ask on behalf of the thousands of people that feel as “winter weary” as I do for mercy! Please God make it stop!
I want to wash the car without any fear of the doors freezing by morning, I want to consider shorts as comfortable option for work, I need the warming glow an inexplicably giant ball of fire that will provide me with a tan by June for more than 24 hours!
Please God have mercy… and push spring toward us!
Well Lord, that’s it for today; say hi to mom & dad, thanks for the Eagles latest free agent signings and thanks for the latest SI swimsuit issue… it’s pretty awesome.
During the storm that lasted from Thursday morning through Friday morning Erika and I stopped in at the Mexican restaurant at the mall for a bite. Sadly the kitchen was closed, but luckily the bar was open and the thought of a margarita with their amazing chips & salsa was too much to pass up, even if it were in the midst of a blizzard.
At the bar sat 3 guys who looked (honestly) work weary and tired from the weather. Heavy snow is exhausting, even if you only just sit and look at it accumulate for too long, and these guys had that look. They were friendly and surprisingly chatty to spite their burnt out appearance, so we sat at a table close to them (it was only the 5 of us in the place), and started into a conversation.
We shortly found out that Mike, Jason and Jose were the drivers of the plow trucks in the parking lot of the restaurant, and that they had been clearing the roads for 13+ hours prior to settling in for a break. They also were Wake Up Call fans… that scored them a few bonus points.
It’s not often that you get the chance to see the other side of a storms challenges, like from the driver’s seat of a plow truck, but in talking to these guys it was easy to see how difficult we drivers make it for the people who’s job it is to clear the roads for us to safely accomplish that task.
By the time we left (all together) the salsa was warm as was the margaritas and the snow had started again but the feeling we all had was somehow different. It was fun to meet new people, and do it in a deserted ice bound place that should’ve closed hours prior, and it was enlightening to hear the stories from “the other side of the plow”. Thanks for the perspective, and for the laughs, and for a random and unexpectedly cool night guys. I’ll stay clear of you while you work… and I’ll talk to you in the morning!
Ah the Super Bowl… the apex of football’s yearly battle. This Super Day is the ending of the NFL’s yearly run and usually is so greatly anticipated that it incites parties and drinking, gambling and debauchery, the stuff that only a true holiday can inspire… but is it possible that this year the Super Bowl is, well not too super, at all?
I have read that the demand for tickets is at an all-time low this year. Believe it or not the ticket prices for the seats are actually selling, hold on, at actual face value! Scalpers are complaining that they stand to make a measly $5k this year when their usual haul (for one weekend) is over $40k! Scandalous!
I am a HUGE football fan and a die-hard fan of the Philadelphia Eagles, so I appreciate the sport, the great effort that it takes to field a team with a winning record, to even get to the Big Game no less win it, and I can more than appreciate a great plate of hot wings, plus this year the game is being played in a city I am more than familiar with and could drive to easily, thus normally I love Super Sunday… but I am planning an early night this year.
Forgive me Seattle and Denver fans but this game is a yawner, and we (meaning the bulk of us NEPA residents) really have no skin in the game. Now understand that I am a reverent fan of Peyton Manning. I believe he is the single best QB of this generation and I admire him for returning to the field after what should have been a career ending injury to his neck. I also very much admire the Seahawks Derrick Coleman for fighting the naysayers who believed he would never succeed because he was deaf; awesome! But still, my respect isn’t enough to make me supremely interested in a game that I really don’t care about the outcome! I love the city, the food, the party and the sport… but this “Super Game”, eh?
If I make it past halftime, and that’s a big IF, I will be only able to enjoy the fact that I am awake way past my normal bedtime and watching (for the last time this season) the greatest sport on the planet: football. Chances are however that I’ll be eating day old hot wings (cold) while enjoying a Monday DVR version of Super Bowl XLIII!
Every so often I am reminded that I am the “paternal figure” of the Froggy101 staff being the eldest member since my predecessor left four years ago (thanks Ken), and for a short period of time I was bugged by holding the title of Father Figure to an entire staff of people, two of which are twenty years my junior… but those days are over.
For some reason the New Year has put a song in my head that keeps repeating over and over, and it seems like a decent mantra for my feelings as of late. "Song for the Life" was written Rodney Crowell and first recorded in 1978 and eventually covered by Alan Jackson (where I heard it) in 1995. The lyrics tell an almost eerily accurate description of my life these days as if I had written them myself, and I hear them constantly echoing in thoughts my as a reminder of maturity’s gift to me:
And somehow I've learned how to listen For a sound like the sun going down And the magic the morning is bringing There's a song for the life I have found It keeps my feet on the ground
Sadly I was a tortured soul in my twenties and thirties, and admittedly in the early part of my forties, but that was because of the decisions that I’d made that I knew flew in the face of logic. I truly enjoyed “swimming upstream” and ignoring the things that would be good for me and instead opted for the shallowness of tiptoeing my way across a proverbial minefield. For reasons that I still cannot explain, I chose things for my life that were insanely and obviously wrong, and I knew it, but I eagerly went there anyway!
Then something amazing happened. As the hits kept on coming and the disappointment numbers mounted I stopped- and began to listen… just listen; I wasn’t sure what for at the time, but I stayed there focused and determined to hear what it was I was listening for- I just listened.
What I eventually heard was astonishing… It was the voice of experience… It said that: it was ok; that an ending is inevitable; that there was an amazing magic to the possibilities that a new day would bring, and that my existence now had a depth to it like never before. My life had changed and so had I and it was perfect because of its awful and absolute imperfection.
If I may offer you a piece of advice, it’s this: take a moment today to start listening… it won’t happen as fast as you think, but someday, not so long from now, you will hear the song for the life that you have found… and it will be perfect too.
Is there anyone who doesn't love Graham Crackers? Dunked in milk, covered in chocolate or sandwiching a s'more, this beloved cracker cookie may be simply delicious, but it wasn't intended to be delicious at all!
Well friends, today I actually discovered that the true origin of the Graham Cracker was as a bland food meant to curb lust and sexual desire!
Sylvester Graham, an evangelical minister in the 1830s, believed that the single greatest health concern facing Americans was rampant sexual desire. In order to suppress these carnal urges, Graham prescribed a special boring diet. You could only eat two bland meals a day, consisting of whole grains, fruits and vegetables. No meat, spices, alcohol or tobacco was allowed. And that's how the Graham Cracker was born.
Graham invented a much less tasty, completely sugar-free version of the cracker that shares his name. Since white flour was his primary target (because he felt it led to a “lazy colon” and sinful thoughts) he developed his own process for making whole-wheat flour, which he used for his Graham bread.
Let’s take a moment sometime today to thank God that the Nabisco company changed the recipe to create the tasty treat we love today, or else we would never want s’more… ever!