Sunday, September 29, 2013

My Sunday Feeling

I called the grandfather-to-be last week(expectant grandfather doesn't sound quite right for some reason) just to take his temperature.  I asked him how he was holding up.

His youngest daughter had gone into labor in Birmingham.  Here we go!

" You know," Don said. "Some things just don't seem possible.  The first time I felt like this was when you retired.  I looked in the mirror and asked myself 'How can this be possible?'," he said.

"Then a year later Annie tells me she's going to have a baby.  Again, I looked in the mirror and asked myself 'I'm old enough to be a grandfather. How can this be possible?'" 

I confess that this is sufficiently surreal to me to as well.  Come October 1st I will have been divorced from Uncle Sam two whole years.  There are no bears in the windows.  No wolves at the doors.  I sometimes feel like I ought to be doing something more than what I am doing.  But obviously, I'm not working real hard at trying to figure it out.

I was still gainfully employed when Annie blew through town.  She was going to Oklahoma City for some reason and stopped here to spend the night with me.  I'm thinking 5 years ago.  I was still working.  I was still with J and Hugh was still alive.

We all had a great time.  We went for pizza that night.  I took Annie to breakfast the next day.  She said that I looked nice in a suit.  I, in turn, sternly lectured her on the importance of an education.  Lucky her.  I'm surprised she ever spoke to me again.

And now that goofy kid with the big brown eyes has a daughter.  Alexandra is her name.  Mother and baby are fine.  I would be happy if Mother and Grandmother would return phone calls from Little Rock.  But it's OK.  They are kinda busy.  

Of course, Alexandra is both beautiful and miraculous in equal measure, as all babies are.  My friend Ann has had 5 of  them.  She said the first thing she did each time a new baby was placed in her arms was to count fingers and toes.  That was her threshold completely unscientific way of ascertaining that each new kid was OK.  

As far as I know, little Alexandra has the full compliment of digits.  And I do know that she comes into this world surrounded by a cloud of witnesses that love her very much.  Loving parents, grandparents and great grandparents.  At least one Aunt that I know of and a disreputable honorary Uncle back in Arkansas.  That's a pretty good start.  It doesn't hurt your chances in life when you start out with all kinds of folks that can't wait to hold you in their arms.

But Don's right.  It doesn't seem possible.  I can close my eyes and be transported back to Tulane in an instant.  Don and Karin were dating.  Now they are grandparents.  I'm no longer working for the government (or working much at all actually).

And little Annie is a mama.  

I will head over to Birmingham to make her acquaintance once the dust settles.  To the extent the dust ever really gets settled when a new baby arrives. There will be plenty of time for me to get to know her.

Actually, that's not true.  While there's no great rush for me to get a look at her there's not plenty of time.

Alexandra's arrival punctuates the fact that 30 years just went by in a finger snap. 

Like her Grandpa said, "How can this be possible?"  

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Rest Cure

I have been pretty much preoccupied by all things Harvest Fest this week.  So, no MSF today.  

Keep calm and bet the over next week when the Hogs play A&M.  

Sunday, September 15, 2013

My Sunday Feeling

I will have been "retired" 2 whole years come October 1.  This still seems pretty surreal to me although not so much as it did those first dreadful months when my life did a complete 360.  Now, everything is way cool. But there are times where I still see things through a lens somewhere outside the body.  Friday was one of those days.  

According to my calendar, or what passes for my calendar nowadays, I was scheduled to sing the National Anthem for a Naturalization Ceremony at the Courthouse.  I got up, put on a jacket and tie for the first time since the last funeral I attended, or maybe since last Easter, and headed downtown.  

I take that back.  I wore a suit to the Centennial Service at Pulaski Heights Baptist Church a couple of weeks ago.  But suffice it to say, I don't wear ties that often anymore. 

Driving downtown was so familiar to me.  Down Kavanaugh to Markham.  Past the Arkansas Schools for the Deaf and the Blind.  Through the State Capitol grounds to 4th street. All so familiar. How many times have I made this drive? And yet I never go downtown any more.

I parked a few blocks from the Courthouse in a free space on the street.  I headed on foot toward the Courthouse.  I forgot how slippery leather soles are.  

Past the Federal Building where I toiled in relative obscurity for 28 years.  One of the guards recognized me.  We shook hands.  No other familiar faces.  I was rather relieved. 

The first sign of a problem should have been the notice outside the Federal Courthouse that no cameras or cellphones were allowed.  I didn't much think about it as I had my Courthouse Technology Permit in the front pocket of my shirt.  But they always let folks carry cameras into the Courthouse for the Naturalization Ceremony.  It's pretty much the only time they allow it.

I walked up to the security point where I was greeted with "What are you doing here?" At least that salutation wasn't accompanied by the production of weapons.  

I told them I was there for the Naturalization Ceremony.  Wrong.  I was a week early.  

"Now THAT'S the mark of a man who is retired," one of the Security Officers said as he put his arm around my shoulders.  I would have never made that sort of mistake back when I was working.  But now I can't remember anything.  A therapist friend says it is because I am no longer hypervigilant. She says I will live longer this way.  

Great.  I may live longer but I will do so as a goofball.

So I had time to kill before meeting Phil for lunch. What to do? Go drop by my old office?  God no.  Unless I am being audited or I lose my Social Security card I don't think I will ever set foot in the Federal Building again.  

It was a pleasant day.  So I went and sat on the bench by the fountain in front of the Courthouse.  How many times had I sat there?  That's where the deaf lady from the IRS taught me sign language.  That's where I learned that Hugh had gotten sick.  That's where I met folks who wanted to talk about stuff they didn't want to talk about inside.  

And here I was again.  Same as ever and yet somehow completely different.

After I awhile I went back to the car and headed down to the River Market for lunch.  I didn't really remember how to get to the restaurant.  Then again, I hadn't eaten there since before I left government service.  Just don't have a reason to go down there anymore.

I was looking for the street where I always parked down there and I was having trouble finding it.  I suddenly found myself crossing the center line.  Oh yeah, the one way becomes two way after you cross Main Street.  Shit.

I eventually parked the car without incident and found my way to the restaurant.  Phil was waiting.  It was the kind of pleasant lunch that I used to do all the time.  Now I never meet anybody for lunch.  Hell, I don't much eat lunch anymore.

Adult themes were the order of the day.  Phil talked about taking a young colleague with money problems under his wing.  I talked about a friend who was sick. He asked me to try to figure out the story on the house across the street from him that was on the market.  

He heard that the owners just gave it back and walked away.  This was inconceivable to him.  They both had jobs.  They had done lots of work on the house.  What could be going on behind closed doors that caused them to lose such a nice house in Phil's pleasant neighborhood? 

As I headed home I pondered on all the trouble in the world.  Bad stuff happens to good people.  Good stuff happens to bad people.  People get sick.  Young people lose their way and need the advice of someone who has been around the block.  Everything that was once so familiar can seem distant and foreign.

I made a mental note to put the Naturalization Ceremony on the calendar.  I can't trust myself to carry information around in my head.  I'm no longer hypervigilant.  

I drove past the Courthouse.  "See you boys next week," I said to myself.  

And I will make the trip again.  

Sunday, September 08, 2013

My AWOL Feeling

This week had too much action.  So no blogging.

However, I have a great story to tell when I get the time to tell it.

Until then, talk among yourselves.  

Sunday, September 01, 2013

My Sunday Feeling

Yesterday's news is indeed proof of the old saying that some people will steal anything that's neither tied down nor red hot. 

Some bastard or bastards broke into the storage unit at Miracle League Field here in Little Rock and stole 75 baseball gloves.  Around 4:30 yesterday afternoon it was discovered that 2 buckets containing around @ 50 "soft" baseballs were also taken.  You know how these things go.  I'm sure that as Peggy, the Executive Director, continues to poke around she will discover that other stuff is missing.  That's the way it usually works.

To the uninitiated, Miracle League is a nationwide franchise dedicated to baseball for disabled kids.  In Little Rock, it has expanded to two leagues.  The Friday night players actually learn skills, get called out and keep the score.  It was for those players that we needed the gloves.  Naturally, we start up next Friday night.

My first reaction is to repeat what I usually say about this kind of offense.  Property offenders sure work awfully hard for a minimal payoff.  It would be easier to hold down a real job. 

Here, the crooks apparently climbed up the side of the building, pried off a loose panel on the metal roof and dropped themselves into the shed.  That's a lot of work to steal a bunch of stuff that has zero resale value on the street.  As a matter of economics and tactics, this heist makes no sense whatsoever.

Which makes me wonder if somebody is trying to outfit a couple of tee ball or pitching machine teams on the cheap?  That makes more sense than trying to fence this stuff.

Stealing from disabled and underprivileged kids to gather gear for your own kiddie team is so completely fucked up, I kinda like it as a theory.  In any event, nothing else makes much sense.

But some good has come of this.  Like discovering that Facebook can be used for something more useful than posting pictures of lunch.  And to see folks from all walks of life get to work out of a sense of complete outrage is wondrous indeed.  The Junior League is pissed.  My State Representative's wife is pissed.  The Better Business Bureau is putting out a collection box as are local Starbucks. 

The guys at a local high end men's store have been sending me good ideas about resources to tap.  My brother is in contact with an acquaintance in the corporate office of a nationwide sporting goods chain.  The Junior Deputy baseball program, who deeded Miracle League the land where we play, is going to scare up some balls and gloves.  Before it's over, I suspect the Hillcrest Baptists and Methodists will pitch in.  Because I have put the arm on their respective pastors. 

The very idea that somebody would steal from disabled children has a whole lot of folks completely riled up.  But another typical reaction may be summed up from my buddy Jeff who texted the following: "It is a sad world we live in." Indeed.

I hope whoever did this can live with himself.  But because a whole slew of good folks from all walks of life, some of whom could give a rip about baseball, couldn't live with what he did to those kids we are gonna play ball as scheduled this Friday.   

Whoever you are that did this, if there are Bunsen burners in the lowest part of Hell, I hope you get assigned one. 

Because you stole from disabled children. 

You son of a bitch.