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Showing posts from March, 2015

Grandma, 1929-2015

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My grandmother died almost four weeks ago. I'm finally writing about it now.

For the last two years or so, she hasn't felt great. Not dying and invalid unwell, but just but bubbling right under the weather sick. She had troubles with her teeth and gums, had cataract surgery, and had been prone to dizzy spells for days at a time. Nothing to suggest the end was near.

The last few months, she'd been feeling more under the weather. I know my mother was somewhat worried, but nothing definitive was ever diagnosed. About three weeks before she passed, she suddenly had trouble speaking. Not being coherent, but her voice was affected. She went to the doctor who mentioned that the x-ray might be showing something on her lung pushing against her vocal chords.

This news sent my grandmother into what you could call a death spiral. She muddled through the next week, refusing to go back to the doctor to get bad news, barely being able to talk. I called her on a Wednesday and talked brief…

Spring breakin'

The boys are on spring break, for the first time with me working full-time. The week should be interesting.

My plan this week is to do as much with the boys as possible while still getting enough work done. I jumped ahead with some work over the weekend so I don't have to work a full 40 this week (I'm lucky that my schedule is flexible). This should be a good test for the summer, when the boys' schedule goes really bonkers.

I worked for a few hours this morning, then took the boys to the park while I ran with the dog. We met some of their friends there, and I drove all four to our house. The boys got an instant playdate, and I was able to work for three more hours. Then it was Michael to swim practice, the friends back to their house, and Ben to baseball practice, where I worked another two hours. So on this first spring break day, I managed to work 7 hours, run, and hang out with the boys a little.

Tomorrow, we may go for a hike in 80-degree temperatures (the cooldown is …

Songs That Stuck: If You Were Here

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I was reading an interview with Molly Ringwald tonight about the 30th anniversary of "The Breakfast Club." I tried explaining to Michael why it was such a great movie and that John Hughes, who directed it, filmed so many of his movies in Chicago. When I see tributes to Hughes, I feel sort of lucky that the settings of his films -- mid-'80s, north suburbs -- mirrored the time I was in high school in the north suburbs. I want to believe there is a special connection with the teens growing up at that time, in that place.

No song quite exemplifies that connection for me than "If You Were Here" by the Thompson Twins. For those not in the know, this is the song that closes out "Sixteen Candles." The mood of the song is a perfect ending to the movie, masterfully setting John Hughes fans up for even more impactful combinations of music and scene in his later movies (think "This Woman's Work" in "She's Having a Baby" or "Oh Yea…

Eight years of blogging

I started writing The 43 in May 2007, meaning I'm coming up on eight years on this blog. I am happy it's lasted this long, and wish I had more than 664 (665 after I hit publish on this post) entries over that time. I am running into a slight problem: I'm forgetting what I have and haven't written about. With one goal being telling stories of memories, over eight years, I've written some that I'm ready to write again simply because it's been six years since I did so and it simply escaped my brain. My post on "Against the Wind" yesterday was a prime example -- I was surprised that I had written about the same thing years earlier.

Here's what I'm thinking: The memories are powerful enough for me to write about over and over, or I need to delve a little deeper beyond the obvious recollections. Have I written about the month of May in which we moved and Dad drove me to my old school every morning? Or about our trip to Wisconsin Dells in 1979? Or…

Songs that Stuck: Against the Wind

--> In an effort to jumpstart the blog a little, I’m starting a feature I had been considering for a while. “Songs that Stuck” will highlight songs embedded in my brain that hold special meaning, often taking me back to a certain moment in time. There are so many that inspire such a rush of memories that I’m hoping that recording and reflecting those feelings will cement their importance.
Here’s the first, and it’s one I’ve mentioned in previous post from long ago: “Against the Wind” by Bob Seger. It was released in 1980 and was popular that summer, which is one of my favorite summers from my youth. And hearing it again generally takes me back to that summer, but a different summer is why it as stuck.
When I was 13 in 1984, we visited a resort near Lake Geneva for the Fourth of July, and being uninterested in water sports and being a sullen 13-year-old, was bored. I only brought one cassette with to listen to on my Walkman, and “Against the Wind,” taped off the radio a coupl…

The March of time

I've had so much to write about this month and not a lot of time or energy to do so. My grandmother died, my dad visited, and we went to Pocatello, Idaho, for a basketball tournament in successive weekends. Bing, bing, bing, and here it is, a week before April. Grandma's death hit me hard, and I didn't want to write and yet did at the same time. The urge not to won, helped by everything else that was going on. And I'm going to write about her, and the basketball tournament, and Dad's visit, and everything else.

We got through Pocatello, and now it's time to be a little more extraordinary. Work is still a bit crazy, but the best and worst of March has passed. I found a star that I'm looking to every night and thinking of Grandma. It's Sirius, and it's easy to spot, off to the left of Orion's foot. I've been catching it and pondering everything I want to do but haven't accomplished, or even started, yet. Unfortunately, I'm going to los…