Archive for the ‘Family Traditions’ Category

Now The Days Go By So Fast

August 19th, 2009

track_sm

My Grandpa Joe recently came out from Florida for a visit and I enjoyed my time with him.  I had to pull some crazy hours at work to try and fit in all the fun but it was well worth it.  We went to the Del Mar Track one day, followed by dinner at Tony Jacals in Solana Beach.  I blame my Grandpa (and Grandma, but more gramps) for my enjoyment of the races at Del Mar (and maybe gambling in general).  I have vivid memories of walking around on the infield with him, looking at the horses.  He would ask me who I would want to bet on in the next race, and then he’d place a bet for me.  Living in Solana Beach they would go often.  I don’t really know how many times I was able to go with them, but I will always picture myself with him, walking around the infield in what seemed to be the early foggy morning.

On Thursday we played afternoon twilight golf at Carmel Mountain.  The following day, still sore, we played golf out on Coronado on the Military base.  We all played absolutely rotten on the friday at Coronado.  It was during this round that I got to thinking.

group_sm

However, after waking up at 4:45 AM this day, my thoughts were not really sinking in.  I started to think back to my Rhetoric classes and the lesson that I hang onto the tightest.  We studied about making communication effective sometimes requires one to create an illusion of the first or last time experiencing something.  Anytime you do something new or fresh, the experience takes on a more vivid feeling.  Likewise, if you realize that an experience might be the very last time you will experience it in your life, you appreciate every bite, every laugh just a little bit more.  In all, it comes to appreciating a moment more vividly, and creating a deeper sense of awareness of life.

bench_smThe golf course this day was one of those golf experiences where you ask yourself “how many holes left” over and over because you are playing so badly, you can’t wait for the round to end.  I caught myself doing this repeatedly and it was troubling me.  I wanted to break this thought pattern, and appreciate the moment more.  After all, could this be the last time I possibly play golf with my grandpa?  I practically learned the game from him going to the driving range with him as a 5 year old.  I attribute any and all of my golf playing to him, as my teacher and mentor.  Could this be the final round I ever play with him?  How many years of golf does he have left at his age, and with him living on the other side of the country we only see each other every couple of years.   The day before in Carmel Mountain, I think might have been the first time I ever shot a lower round than him.

cart_smI wanted to focus on this, but I was just too worn down and playing so poorly, that I came away disappointed that I hadn’t had that vivid experience that I was hoping for. 

Regardless of these thoughts, I had a great time this week with my grandpa.  I hope and expect that this was not my last time golfing with him, or being active with him.  I’m continually trying to appreciate life each day.  Viva La Vida.  Life goes by way too quickly.  Another one of my favorite bands has a lyric that rings true for me in my attempts to viva la vida, and to experience things through the perception of it being my first or last time:

Now the days go by so fast…
I can’t remember all the times I tried to tell my myself
To hold on to these moments as they pass

I love you Grandpa.

outback_sm

It Was The Sound Of A Crescendo

June 26th, 2009

As He Came Into The Window
It Was The Sound Of A Crescendo
He Came Into Her Apartment
He Left The Bloodstains On The Carpet
She Ran Underneath The Table
He Could See She Was Unable
So She Ran Into The Bedroom
She Was Struck Down, It Was Her Doom

billie-jean-jacksonYesterday afternoon at approximately 3:00 PM pacific time, the “King of Pop” passed away.  Michael Jackson was a tortured soul and must have lived both a thrilling and a stressful, worried-filled life.  While learning his A-B-C’s as a child, he seemed to take no greater joy than being on stage performing.  He was a smiling, dancing, happy kid.

After becoming “King of the World” you could see a person that both wanted to heal the world (perhaps as Captain EO), yet despite his success, he had to retreat and isolate himself.  He would have to remind himself that he was not alone.

He had odd moments with marriages, odd moments with his own children, and questioned moments with other children.

He was both one of the most celebrated and revered musical artists not just of our time, but in the entire history of the world.  But he was also a little off the wall, and confusing to the world.  The part that confused me the most, was the fact that by the end of his life, you really couldn’t tell if his appearance was black or white, human or alien.  He had multiple surgeries on his face.  He just couldn’t help it.  He could no longer recognize the man in the mirror.

mjgloveNo matter your perspective–whether your view of him is of a musical dancing genius, or whether you see him as a bad, deranged man– the fact remains that he was a global icon.  His popularity went further then just the girl named Billie Jean, but stretched throughout the world.  The girls were his, the men were his, the world was his.  At the height of his popularity, he could do no wrong.  He was invincible.  He could even walk on the moon.

He is gone too soon.

News of his death quickly passed around the eInternet and it even caused sites to go down.

News of Jackson’s death spread quickly online, causing many websites to experience technical difficulties under the unanticipated swell of users. Google announced technical difficulties after a sudden swell in searches for “Michael Jackson” led the company to believe it was under attack from hackers, while social networking site Twitter reported a crash after record numbers of users used the site to spread the news of Jackson’s death.  Wikipedia itself had temporarily experienced technical difficulties and crashed at 3:15 PDT reportedly due to excessive edits and user overload. Many news organizations were generally very cautious about the initial reports of his death.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Michael_Jackson#2009:_Death

mjleanAs I heard the news, and quickly reflected on his life and death I wondered if he would be remembered as Elvis or Buddy Holly are remembered.  Author Samuel Roy has argued: “Elvis’ death did occur at a time when it could only help his reputation. Just before his death, Elvis had been forgotten by society.”  You could probably say the same about Michael Jackson.  He had become an anomaly to culture.  Hopefully his death will make people remember the time when they danced, sang, and just couldn’t get enough of his music rather than the disfigured man, sharing wine and beds with boys, trying to free willy.  Will Neverland Ranch become his Graceland?

As I contemplated his legacy, I at first thought that although I viewed him as filthy (in the baseball sense–amazingly good), I didn’t have any sort of connection or tie to his music.  But then as I thought about it more, I realized that I have 2 (actually, just thought of a third) vivid memories of his music.

The first was when I was only six years old.  It was late 1982 and my family was renting a winter cabin for a week or weekend in the mountains.  When I was younger this was kind of a tradition.  We had another family come visit and share our time for a few days.  One of my brothers friends (I think it was Tyler Monroe), brought with him the new Thriller album.  We listened to the album non-stop and even pretended we were making a video for it.  I also remember being scared and having nightmares of the title track.  It was really a freaky song for a newly six year old boy in a dark musty cabin.

mjperformingMy next vivid memory (both of these memories I can still see very clearly in my mind’s eye), took place when I was in junior high school.  It was a Sunday morning, and I was waiting in our Volvo (Volvo for life), for my dad to finish chatting with people after church.  It was parked on Martincoit road, along the street, right outside my former elementary school that housed our church.  I was sitting there listening to the radio, and Casey Casem’s top 40 countdown.  The number one song that day was Man in the Mirror.  It was a spiritual moment for me, as I sang and cried to the song.  It inspired me that day, to want to make myself a better person, to want to help people, and to focus on my own problems, rather than the faults of others.  It’s a trait that I have hung onto and grown my entire life–within each problem, fight, scenario that I might encounter, I look to see where I could have blame so that I can attempt to change that pattern in the future.  I think this is sometimes a detriment to myself, as I too often claim more blame than I should.  But overall I think it is a good concept.  Why blame others and hurt them with anger, when I can find and fix the role I played and build up the esteem of the other person?

michaeljacksongloveThe third vivid memory that I have in my photographic memory (or would it now be called a videographic memory?), is my senior year in college.  It was a week before school started, and I was hanging out preparing for the year with the other R.A’s in my dorm–Erin, Erin, Angeline, Rebecca and Jon.  We were setting up our R.A office (does anyone remember “the Dugout?”), using bleach to clean out the mold in the refrigerator from a long summer.  We were setting up our pet miniature illegal turtles (what did we name them?  M.J was one I think), and getting the entire dorm prepared for the rush of students and the new year.  Our dorm,V.K, was shaped similar to how you might view a Motel 6.  It was two stories, rectangle in shape, that all surrounded a large green courtyard with cement walkways.  While we were busting our humps cleaning, laughing and enjoying new friendships and experiences, we were blasting in the courtyard Jackson’s album, HIStory.  We just couldn’t get enough.  It was a precious moment in my life, and along with laughter, love, and hope, Jackson was providing the soundtrack.

There are probably many other moments of my life that Michael Jackson provided soundtrack to.  But these 3 are the most vivid.  I remember them so crisply and can picture them on a loop in my head.  Whether I am 6, 12, 21 or now practically 33, his music and life have been integrated with mine.

Will you (if I have any readers) share any specific memories, moments, or flashbacks that you may have had with Jackson and or his songs?  How did he make you feel?

michael-jackson

mjreagan

President Ronald Reagan and Nancy in 1984 before receiving an award for his contribution to a drunk driving awareness program.

mjthriller

This Week I'm Thinking About: Jonathan Wilt