When I grow up

avatar-3127928_640The little kid stood back from the small table in the corner of the dentist office, where he’d been playing with a couple of toy die-cast cars, and told his mom that he wanted to become a veterinarian when he grows up so that he could help his friend Petey’s dog. He told his mom that the dog, named Shadow, needed to have surgery on its back leg.

His mom patted him on the shoulder and told him that was nice to have a goal. He went back to playing and she went back to reading messages on her phone. A few minutes later, he told her that he changed his mind. He instead wanted to become a racecar driver so that he could drive fast. He would drive her everywhere they needed to go.

“And I would drive really, really, really fast Mommy,” he said, pronouncing “really” so that it sounded more like “weally.”

She again patted him on the back.


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Waiting for the restlessness to pass

The driver in the blue Honda in front of me braked suddenly without warning. The sun had just started to go down in the horizon and the reddish-amber sky matched the Honda’s red brake lights. Fortunately, I had been paying attention and was able to break easily to avoid an accident.

Traffic on the four lanes of highway going into Washington, D.C. and the four leaving the city were crazy. I had driven the highway countless times over the past six months since I first started dating my girlfriend (who would later become my wife). However, on this day, I felt like the traffic was especially hectic, in part because I was driving my new car.

My old Renault, which one of my brother’s had graciously handed down to me, had seen me through thick and thin until it had nothing left to give and had finally given way. After a late night of work, it had left me stranded me.

I needed a car to get to my first real job as a newspaper reporter. The job didn’t pay a ton so I had to be careful in how much I paid for a car. I poured over car advertisement after car advertisement, went back and forth with a saleswoman at a local car dealership, and purchased my first new car, a Geo Storm. (Before you laugh, I got a great deal on it.)

I drove off the lot happier and prouder than I had ever been in my life. I was making something of myself (or so I thought).


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My wish for the future

I walked to my car searching for the right words to describe the celebration. My coworker couldn’t have been happier. He had a smile that spread from one side of his face to the other. I couldn’t blame him for beaming. After more than twenty-some years with my company, he was retiring. A large group of his friends and coworkers had gotten together to wish him well.

Two weeks later, I attended a second retirement celebration for another friend. We had worked together at another company a number of years ago. We had lost track of each of other when I had moved on, but had reconnected in recent years. The celebration this time around was a more intimate lunch to match his personality. The common denominator for both retirees: their smiles.

They couldn’t have been more content and relaxed. They both looked like the weight of the world had been lifted off their shoulders.


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Going out for a long walk: My dream of thru-hiking the Appalachian Trail

The guy in the picture has sun-drenched hair and a scraggly beard, but looks fit. His excitement and elation jump off the computer screen. He holds up his arms in celebration, a hiking pole dangles down from his arms. The woman in the picture has her arms in the air too and an even bigger smile.


The two took the photo after they completed the Appalachian Trail, a 2,200-mile National Scenic Trail that extends from Springer Mountain, Georgia to Mount Katahdin, Maine. The two started their hike in late March and ended six months later in early September. Like most thru-hikers, they walked during the day — averaging about 8-10 miles in the early going and then 15-20 once they got stronger — and slept in a tent or one of the 250 shelter sites spaced about a day’s hike apart along the trail. They kept a regular schedule and every seven days or so, spent a night in a hotel or hostel in one of the communities near the trail, where they rested and loaded up on provisions.

Since the trail was completed in the 1930s, more than 12,000 people have hiked the full-length of the trail, known simply as the A.T. Historically, only about 10% to 15% of those who make the attempt report to the Appalachian Trail Conservancy that they completed it. The husband and wife were two of the most recent hikers to accomplish the task this past fall.


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Which pretend superhero are you?

DC Comics supervillain, the Joker, stared back at me across the conference table. His skin bleached white and his hair a ghoulish green, the Joker asked in a high squeal if the paper he held in his hands was my best work.

The Joker is a homicidal maniac, bent on creating havoc, and rarely, if ever, fights fair, relying on acid-spewing flowers and fatal laughing-gas. I knew better than to take his bait.

I simply imagined what would Batman do in this situation. I sat up in my chair in my best Caped Crusader pose, smiled back, looked him straight in the eye and said, “My team and I gave it our best shot. We put in a lot of hard work, sought out feedback of others and polished and polished our proposal until we thought it shined.”

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My dream: a hug and a vision of peace

I’m flawed.

I get angry and fly off the handle easily with little warning. I’m selfish and impatient. I hold grudges and write others off for the smallest of offenses. I can be mean and disagreeable. I curse and swear and would sooner run over you than let you sneak in front of me on my way to work.

I criticize and complain. I focus on myself instead of helping others. Despite my many flaws, I look up to find Mary, the mother of God, waving to me to come closer. I shake my head and squint my eyes. She’s dressed in a long robe and her arm is definitely motioning toward me. I have to be seeing things. This can’t be right.

No, it’s clear as day. She’s got a bright smile that wraps around her entire face and is pointing and waving to me. I take a hesitant step forward. I look behind me. Is she waving to someone else? No, there’s no one there.


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Killing time

iphone-518101_640I love my iPhone. I wouldn’t say that it’s attached to me at the hip, but I definitely rely on it for a multitude of tasks that I never would’ve guessed just a couple of years ago.

In particular, I love that it’s turned me, a one-time technophobe fearful of all new apps and social media outlets, into a lover of all things technology. I can’t get enough of it, mainly because it helps make life easier.

However, saying all that, there’s one simple app that I’m ready to kill. It’s not really an app per se, but I hate it all the same. I hate the alarm clock on my phone. If I could, I would eliminate it, but, of course, if I deleted it from my smartphone, I would need to go back to a real-live alarm clock and I hate them even more.

Like most people, I need my alarm clock to exist, to start my day and get off to work. As I blogged recently, we purchased a new bed and that has made a ton of positive improvements in the quality of my sleep, but I’m still not getting enough sleep.


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Finding myself in the silence

The long tree branches block out the sun’s hot rays — and on this day when the mid-day temperature hits the mid-90s, it is most certainly hot — but I’m most appreciative of the gentle breeze that runs through the woods.


I tread carefully through the wooded area, moving from tree to tree, watching where I put my foot down. I take a step or two, stop and look around, and then then start up and take another few steps, before stopping again.

I’m walking as quietly as I can to see what I might find, perhaps a doe and it’s fawn or even squirrel or two rustling through the trees, but I’ve really come to get away. In my job, I’ve been running lately from busy meeting to busy meeting, conference call to conference call. And then my weekends seem to be filled up with trips and excursions, never really giving me any down time.

I’ve come for the silence

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The wisdom of Solomon

In the Bible, God comes to King Solomon in a dream and offers him whatever he wants. The mind explodes with possibilities: wealth, jewels, power, fame, and status all come quickly to mind.


If in Solomon’s position, knowing me, I’d probably snicker or take on the “doubting Thomas” role, suggesting that God’s offer had to be a joke.  I would more than likely say something sarcastic like: “God asking me what I want? Yea right, when pigs fly.” I would assume it was a mixture of insomnia and a very active imagination.

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Happy Birthday: Hello teenager

When I became a teenager in the early 80s, we listened to Rick Springfield sing about Jessie’s Girl and Diana Ross and Lionel Richie sing of their Endless Love; played Pac-Man and Centipede in a downtown arcade, read George Orwell’s 1984, went in droves to see The Empire Strikes Back and spent our free time trying to figure out a 3-D combination puzzle called the Rubik’s Cube.

We worried that the Soviet Union — including Russia — would one day nuke us, cheered when the Iranian hostages came home and the U.S. launched the first space shuttle, and watched amusingly as a rich, young billionaire named Donald Trump made headlines in his bid to take over Manhattan.


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