Friday, February 26, 2016

Lucky 13

Right place, right time.

I'm sure every person wonders how their lives would have been different if some opportunity didn't present itself at exactly the most opportune time. When I applied to work at The Salt Lake Tribune in 2000, I originally didn't get the job. I was commanding more money than other candidates and wasn't local -- essentially, I was more expensive to hire. I went about applying for other jobs, almost got an interview in Tucson, got calls from Las Vegas and California. Before I could act on anything, I got a call back from The Tribune. There was another opening, and they needed me in a hurry.

So if that second copy editor hadn't left, I likely wouldn't be a Utahn. We might be a Nevadans or  Californians or Wisconsinites. I might still be in newspapers. We wouldn't own the dog and cat we currently do. We just got lucky that things turned out like they did, exactly as they are now.

Right place, right time. Even our perceptions are shaped by it. Thirty-five years ago, I think on the 28th, I went with my grandparents to see Dionne Warwick at Mill Run in Niles. They volunteered as ushers at the theater in the round, mostly to see free shows, and Grandma knew I loved watching "Solid Gold." We were at a birthday party for my cousin (who is now 36 ...) and they offered to take me along. I sat on the steps with them during the show, which was the first real concert I ever attended. On the way back to my godparents' house on the cold Chicago night, Grandpa turned on WGN, which still programmed a wide variety of options. It went from news to classical, with Jack Taylor (WGN TV's news anchor back then) providing the introduction. We never listened to WGN other to hear the Cubs. I came away thinking what a unique station WGN was, but never listened much to station afterward.

Lately, if I've had trouble sleeping, I will turn on WGN on my smartphone and listen to the variety. It's not like it once was, but it's talk and somewhat unique, and something different than trying to fall asleep to ESPN Radio.

Wrong place, wrong time. The randomness goes both ways. Grandma has almost been gone a year. Mom was going to have me talk to her when she was hanging on but unconscious, particularly after the hospice nurse said she was waiting for something. Mom thought maybe she was waiting for me, and that maybe talking to me would give her the peace to let go. I found this out on Friday night; Mom was going to call in the morning. Grandma died during the night.

The right place/right time paradox goes both ways, like a lucky 13. Trying to predict how things would be better or worse is an exercise in futility. You can only deal with the present and everything that brought you to that moment. I forget that, sometimes which often leads to the sleeplessness. You can't fix what's not in your control -- especially at 1 a.m.

Spring is almost here, and that's lucky.

Friday, February 19, 2016

Not yet a fourteener

A fourteener is a mountain at least 14,000 feet in elevation. It's above the timber line and has only 60 percent of the oxygen as if you were at sea level. Hiking fourteeners is a popular challenge in Colorado, which has 53 mountains of such height. Utah has no mountains over 13,528 feet, and most of the mountains on the Wasatch Front don't go much higher than 11,000 feet.

*******

Last summer for Father's Day, we hiked to Jack's Mountain Mailboxes in the foothills near our house. It's elevation is 6,475, and the 1,200-foot climb from the trailhead was challenging enough. At the top, I snapped this selfie of the boys and I.

Michael is 11 in this picture, and is now a 12-year-old sixth-grader. He looks like a 12-year-old, maybe even older some days. He's 5-foot-7, has braces, and bears not too much resemblance to the third-grader he was just three years ago. Somewhere at the end of that school year, he ceased to look like a little kid anymore. And not at 12, he is looking like a teenager. He acts like one sometimes, with the eye rolling, the crazy appetite, the desire to just listen to his iPod in the solitude in his room. And his appearance is coinciding.

But then there are pictures such as this one, one of my favorites and my Facebook profile picture, in which I can still see the little kid in him. His smile looks so young, his hand not big enough to palm a basketball like he can. And he still is only 12, and will forever be my 12-year-old. And my 9-year-old. And my 6-year-old kindergartner. And my 3-year-old preschooler. And my 1-year-old who I would take on long walks in the jogging stroller, when it was just him without a little brother. He will always be that kid.

The time is going so fast. But it's not over yet. There are more mountains to climb, maybe a fourteener someday.