I’m not an alcoholic, but earlier this week, this part of “The Serenity Prayer” helped calm me down a little bit:

God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference.

I will admit I have been rather concerned about The Lovely and her grandkids, who also happen to be my godkids. Part of me knows that, to quote Shawn Mullins, “everything’s gonna be all right,” but there are no certainties in this life, really, and so, when upheaval strikes, sometimes I find myself trying to tune out everything in hopes of finding the answer somewhere within.

Doesn’t always work, and sometimes I, like most people, find that being inside my head can be a dangerous place.

And sometimes not!

Anyway, a few minutes ago I crawled into bed, covered up, and almost immediately had a memory of Kameron from the first time we took him to Key West. He was walking then, but he wasn’t quite a year old, and every night around 8 o’clock or so, he would hit what we called The Delirium Stage — basically, he started acting kinda nutty, mostly because he was trying to keep himself awake.

On New Year’s Eve, his parents went out, and Diane and I stayed at the condo with Kameron, watching movies. On that night, he didn’t get too “delirious”; in fact, he climbed up on the couch and fell asleep in just a few minutes.

Or so we thought.

Diane asked me if I could carry him into the bedroom without waking him up. I said I’d try, and as I knelt down next to the couch to lift him, he opened his eyes.

And he just started LAUGHING! (I was afraid he’d start crying.)

It was one of my favorite moments ever.

Why does it seem so long ago? Kameron’s not even 5 yet.


Sheila holds up her camera to take a picture of the two of us, and she asks, “What do you think I’m gonna get a picture of?”

“Your nose!” I reply.

Obviously, I should have said, “Our noses!”

And this was my ballot (well, part of it, anyway!):

From what I’ve been told, I wasn’t supposed to have any kind of recording device in the voting booth with me. However, I wasn’t being sneaky about anything: I snapped photos of fellow voters and election officials before and after I voted, and no one said a word about the digital camera I had hanging around my neck. (Ah, the power of the press!)And, no, I’m not posting the picture of my ballot now just because Barack Obama was, indeed, elected to be our 44th president. I actually attempted to post it here AND on the Pem Hall Web site (I’d include a link, but you can’t get in without a password, anyway) last night, but strangely enough, my computer was acting all funky and laggy and weird, and after a couple of attempts, I bailed.Election Day wasn’t the greatest for me, personally, but it ended on one of the highest notes imaginable.

Starting around 9 a.m., my throat felt like it was on fire (it started out scratchy and became more irritating as the day wore on), and by mid-afternoon, I was feeling very lethargic. I made it through work and then completed some chores, all the while knowing I was going to spend at least a portion of my evening at the local courthouse. Fortunately, this was one of those elections in which most of the “real” contests, locally, had taken place earlier this year in the primary (big, big-time Democratic country down here … which doesn’t exactly explain why John McCain carried most of the counties in this part of the state, but believe me, I have a few theories about that), so I didn’t have to spend too long at the courthouse.

Then I was back at home, crashed out on the couch, just in time to watch the next-to-next-to-next-to-last episode, ever, of The Shield — while also switching over to various networks’ (mostly WGN, MSNBC, ABC and Fox News … with a little Comedy Central mixed in there, too!) coverage of the election results during the commercial breaks.

As soon as The Shield ended, I flipped over to ABC, just in time to see the announcement that Obama had clinched the presidency.

I felt extremely happy and also very relieved, but if I had to use just one word to describe my overall state of mind, I would have to say “hopeful.” Which is the adjective that sums up how I have felt about Obama from early on in the campaign, back when The Lovely urged me to “listen to what he has to say” and told me he was the first politician who had inspired any kind of hope in her since John F. Kennedy.

I feel hopeful that our new president will show the kind of leadership that can help this country get back on track. I am hopeful that the change he speaks of might have begun last night when the unthinkable — or, at most, something that would have been unthinkable just 30 or 40 years ago — occurred. I hope I and the other 18 million or so voters who picked Barack Obama are right about what we see in him.

Granted, I STILL detest politics, and I’m not naive enough to think that one person will solve all the problems in our country overnight. Or over the span of a few months, or even a few years. I do find myself hoping, though, that this is a step in the right direction.

Now: If only my throat would quit hurting. (Damn sinuses!)

We shall see, I suppose.

I hope you all vote tomorrow … even if you don’t vote for the correct candidate!

… what Kiddle’s been up to:

Just hangin’ out, really; actually, she was about half-asleep when I snapped this shot. She also seems to enjoy lying near my bedroom window, taking in the bright fall sunshine. And at night, of course, she likes to wake me up (at all hours), trying to get me to play Fetch with her toy mice.

And already I’ve been to Mickey D’s, Diane’s, Wally World AND the WW gas station ($2.01 per gallon, which I simply HAD to have, even though my tank was barely half-empty). Which, for me, all before 9 a.m. on a Saturday, is PRETTY darn good.

And it’s a beautiful fall day.

And I’ll be damned if they weren’t playing CHRISTMAS music at Wal-Fart. On Nov. 1. Which gives further credence to my realization, just a couple of days ago, that November and December are just one big holiday — with all the rush-rush and stress that goes along with it. NOT that I have anything against Christmas, of course, but wouldn’t it be nice to enjoy the (generally) great weather and mild temperatures between Oct. 31 and Dec. 25 without the feeling that somebody, somewhere, wants me to spend money?

And speaking of spending money: I am the perfect foil for fast-food promotions. I can’t go to Taco Hell or McDougall’s withOUT purchasing something to go with my “free” whatever. Perfect examples: To go with my free “steal a base, win a taco” taco — thanks to somebody on the Tampa Bay Rays or the eventual world champion Philadelphia Phillies stealing a base in the opening game of the World Series — I also bought a bean burrito and a medium Pepsi; to complement my free Monopoly breakfast sandwich today, I also got an egg McMuffin value meal with a large Coke, so I could give an eggMo (that’s how that particular sandwich used to be abbreviated on the receipt, I’ve been told) to Diane and we could split the hash brown. (Speaking of which: McD’s hash browns have been absolutely AWFUL lately. Greasy and weird, texture-wise. I say the franchise should go back to using whatever meat by-products it used to use so they taste “normal” again.)

And that’s all I’ve got for now.

I just completed the ethics and workplace harassment training courses that corporate mandated for us earlier today. I’m pretty sure I’m the first one at the office to complete mine (even though we have, like, a month or so to finish them), which should earn me some kind of bonus, right? — but I’m pretty sure it won’t.

Nevertheless, I’m feeling all ethical and, like, trained, y’know?

Actually, I’m feeling kinda tired, thanks to waking up at 3 a.m. and then being completely UNable to get back to sleep until sometime after 5 a.m., and even then, only for a few minutes. Yet, I want to stay up for the 11 p.m. showing of The Shield — which, now that Eli Stone has returned, I’ve been forced to miss at 9 p.m.

But my eyelids, they are a-droopin’ …

I’m sick of election coverage, and the thought of “four more years” of Republican “leadership” scares me. As does the current economic situation. How bad is it all? I’ve had close friends who have lost their jobs because of corporate downsizing and/or financial mismanagement and/or plain and simple “slow sales” — as far back as 2002 and as recently as within the last couple of weeks.

My gas tank is presently just below the one-fourth mark, and over the past week or so, I’ve seen the prices drop from up near the $4 mark to approximately $2.83 at the station just down the street from me. I keep playing my own little game of “Chicken,” daring the prices to go down even further before I pull in for a fill-up.

The disgusting part: Don’t you just know that in a few weeks (days, maybe), the prices will be going right back up again? And this time, they will jump to well over $4 and will not come down again. Ever.

Do prices ever go back down again, on anything? Or is our financial system, our entire economy, based on the fact that prices must always go up, up, up (“in a puff of smoke, and it ain’t no joke, the way he broke my heart”), never to decrease? And, if so: Why?

I took a semester of economics my senior year of high school. Of course, I got an “A” in the class, but I truly have never had a clear understanding of even the most basic principles of economics. (I did enjoy our little project of having to “invest” money in different stocks and then track their gains and losses over the course of the semester.)

Every day, after I descended the stairs and rounded the corner on my way to the locker Tee-Hee and I shared (as seniors, we didn’t HAVE to share a locker; we just wanted to!), I would see Tee-Hee, watching me and smiling as I displayed what she called “The Econ Look.” Which I can only imagine was a look of utter confusion and cluelessness.

And I am not, by nature, a clueless person.

Go figure.

Sometime between approximately 2:30 and 5:30 this morning …

Diane and I are in Chicago, where we have found a “bargain” hotel room for something like $200 a night. (You can actually do better, price-wise, and find some decent to pretty nice rooms.) We go to the second floor to find our room, 2703. Along the corridor, all the “rooms” have the number written in black Magic Marker, or perhaps Sharpie, on duct tape — only, obviously, not all the things that are numbered are actually rooms:

Turns out our “room” is actually a medicine cabinet, which I open and ask, “How are we supposed to sleep in there?” A search to find us an actual room ensues; at one point, we are directed to a corner bed in some huge hospital room, in which everything is blue scrubs-blue. Eventually, Diane and I are pooling our resources and decide we can afford a room for $300 a night, at a decidedly different hotel.


I blame this dream on a couple of my co-workers, Mona and Sandy.

Mona is having some work done on her house, and a few weeks ago, a construction worker was removing some insulation from her bathroom wall, and, as he reached in, he cut his arm in several places because there were all these razor blades stuck in her wall! Well, as it turns out — according to another co-worker of mine, Alice (actually, her brother George was the one who told her about it) — back in “the old days,” some medicine cabinets had a slot where a person could dispose of his razor blade, which fell “harmlessly” into the wall. (I say “his” because that seems like such a guy thing to do, and guys are the ones who shave in front of a mirror … right? I mean, I shave in the shower, and if I had a bathtub, I’d shave while taking a bath … although I did shave that inadvertent stripe into my right temple late last year, but that was while using the electric clippers, not while actually shaving.)

Meanwhile, over the weekend, Sandy was planning to go to Indiana to take part in some of the Covered Bridge Festival events (read: shopping!), and she was talking about how she and a bunch of her girlfriends have gone and stayed seven or eight to a room — which, to me, sounds like the true definition of “hell” — and also how, one year, she and her husband found themselves a bargain price at a Days Inn or some other chain (she couldn’t remember which one, for sure) over there, and once they arrived, they quickly realized the hotel was in a very, very bad part of town.

Just found out that Polly Ann Weathers died this morning.

Polly was best pals with my buddy and longtime co-worker, Joe Anne Malkovich. She’d had a tough life, Polly Ann, but as my friend Becky said, “She handled it, and you never heard her complain.”

I always liked talking to Polly Ann. She like me, too; I’m pretty sure it was because I’d written good stuff about her grandsons over the years. (That was easy to do: They are good kids.)

Polly used to send me a birthday card each year, and at Christmastime, she’d bring me a bag full of Chex party mix. I’d send her a card, too, whenever I remembered (I’ll admit it: I’m a bit lax, sometimes), but I really had no excuse for not remembering: Her birthday was the same day as my dad’s.

It’s a dreary day here, but I hope the sun is shining for Polly Ann in paradise. She deserves it.

1. Life isn’t fair.

2. People are idiots.

3. Rules 1 and 2 are pretty much interchangeable.

OK, I’m not as cranky as I might seem. In fact, I have been meaning to give a few shout-outs (even though I’m pretty sure I’m not crazy about the term “shout-outs”) to some people who have been especially good about listening to me rant/vent about current events over the last week-and-a-half or so — just as they’ve been pretty much great about listening to me rant/vent over pretty much whatever, lo these many years.

So, to Patti, Tee-Hee and, above all, Mom: Thank you.

It’s so easy, sometimes, to get caught up in My Little Life. I make a big deal out of trying to hold my head up, keep my eyes open and see the world around me, but often it gets entirely too convenient to view everything, instead, with tunnel vision.

Sometimes I do it out of self-preservation. I mean, if you pay close attention, you realize that, at almost any point, someone’s life is falling apart, to some degree. Do I want to get caught up in the drama? (Usually not.) Is it possible to stay involved yet keep myself separate from it all? (Usually not entirely … but I try my best.)

Occasionally, I wish I had all the answers. Of course, that, too, would be a nightmare because then, everyone would be coming to me for the answers.

August 2019
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