Forty Things, Activities and People I Love
Elena Tucker challenged me to do this. This took longer to put together than I expected.
(Not in any particular order of priority)
- My wife, Kathy. She gives my life a depth and a richness that I really don’t think it would have without her. Most of the days of our 35 years together (this week is the 35th anniversary of our first date) I have considered myself a very lucky man to have met her, and to have her in my life.
2. My son, J.B. Being his father completely changed me, and he was the greatest kid in the world to raise. He is a good friend, now, and still a great son. I admire how he navigates his world.
3. My siblings. I have a unique relationship with each of them (there are six of them — I am number six in the pecking order, and the youngest of five boys). Our parents raised us to be unique individuals, and each of us are pretty unique. Most of us see each other at least once a year, despite being in six different states, from Connecticut to California. I love that we all want to keep our connection to each other current and strong.
4. My parents (both now deceased). They were such amazing individuals, and I value the relationships I was able to enjoy with each of them, especially later in both of their lives. I appreciate that they did the best job they could raising us, and most importantly, that they let us live the lives we chose.
5. My extended family. I have 42 first cousins (all but one still living). I have kind of become the main point of contact of my immediate family with the family-at-large, particularly on my father’s side, which is kind of strange, since I rarely went to any of the family reunions, on either side, back in Pittsburgh when they used to have them regularly. I think it’s due to my on-line presence. It’s a great extended family, and I really enjoy keeping up with many of them, through Facebook and other connections, but mostly facebook. I can put up with a lot of the downside of that social network, since I am mostly there for the genuine connections it provides for family and friends.
6. Theatre. I love going to see live productions — so much more than going to a movie.
7. Music — all forms, but especially good rock, folk, blues, some jazz, Celtic, blue-grass. Live is even better than recorded, but it’s all important to me.
8. Travel. It doesn’t matter where to, I just like to go, to get away. I always like coming back home just as much. The travel allows me to see home in a new perspective.
9. On-line storytelling communities. I love being connected with other storytellers from around the world, especially with those who are willing to be vulnerable and reveal true things about their lives, allowing a deeper connection. I also love their support of my storytelling. I really love it.
10.Writing. I’ve always loved writing, but now that it has become an integral part of my life, I love it even more. It is like breathing for me. The more I write, the more I feel alive and comfortable in my skin.
11.Reading. I typically have 3 or 4 books going at the same time. Right now, I have about 6 or 7. I just pick up whichever one I’m in the mood for at a given time, and read that until I get in the mood to read one of the others. It works for me. I also love reading stories of other storytellers on Medium.
12.Food. I especially like a good, slow-cooked beef brisket, ribs, meat loaf, turkey, field greens salads with lots of stuff in them, like dates, nuts, blue cheese or goat cheese, and whatever else you can throw in there, good pasta dishes, chili, corn on the cob, fresh fruit of all kinds, desserts of all kinds.
13. Meditation. It’s made a huge difference in my life. I try to practice it every morning.
14.Baseball. It was the first thing I embraced and loved as a kid, and provided a rich trove of memories that still warm my heart when I think of them.
15.My career — prior to the outfit I currently work for, I’d gone through 17 jobs in 4 years. I’ve been with this agency for 34 + years now, having started as a clerk-typist, now a senior executive. I have worked in more different programs of the agency than anyone, I believe ever, and enjoy being someone people turn to with questions about how things work. I hope to continue for another five or six years doing what I am currently doing, or something even more interesting, if this gets old.
16. Playing games — I grew up in a family that loved to play games, we played a lot of Bugger Rum, other rummy card games, mah johnng, risk, I played a lot of strat-o-matic baseball with friends. We still play games when we all get together — mostly bugger rum, sometimes mah johhng.
17. Playing sports — I had a great run of adult competitive softball, from age 50 to 61, but am glad I retired when I did, for health reasons. I got it all out of my system, and managed to not seriously maim myself, though I had my fair share of freak injuries out there. I still love to compete when I can, though I have slowed down a lot. I like to shoot hoops alone when we go on Disney Cruises, which have a great basketball court up on deck, that is always open.
18. My recovery journey. I love that my journey has been rather unique, but most of all, that it even is. I didn’t think I’d ever make it out of the hell of active addiction, and even after I stopped using alcohol and drugs, didn’t think I’d find a meaningful life in which I was comfortable in my skin. I have, and I am.
19. Cruises. I love the ocean, I love being out on it, and I love being on cruises on it. Having spent a few years living on a ship, working, I appreciate luxury cruises all the more. We’ve been on well over 20 in the past 18 years, and been all over the world on ships. It never gets old for me.
20. Disney World. We’ve been going down there since J.B. was three, and we still seem to make it down at least once a year. It, too, never gets old.
21. The Beach. Any beach will do, but especially South Carolina beaches. That’s where my family gets together every year.
22. Being from Pittsburgh.
23. Civil War Battlefields. There’s no place like them.
24. History. I love all aspects of history, and love the history of whatever it is I get involved in.
25. Humor. There should be nothing so serious that you can’t laugh at it — or with it.
26. The idea of retirement in less than 6 years. I plan to begin making my writing ready for publishing in retirement. I have about 6 books worth of material that’s mostly already been written, just needs editing and rewriting, and that’s what I plan to do in retirement.
27. Longevity in my genes. I had a grandmother who lived to be 101, and an aunt who lived to be 100. I’m shooting for triple digits myself. I plan to get there in good shape.
29. Math. When I struggled in other subjects in school, I always did well in math. It was one of my initial attractions to baseball. I love statistics, and figuring out batting averages and earned run averages. I do a lot of math, now, just to keep my brain sharp.
30. Conversation. There are few things I enjoy more than engaging in an active conversation with someone on a deep intellectual subject, or even on a light, whimsical subject. I love having conversations.
31. Walking. Walking has taken on a greater importance for me, now that I can’t really run much, and am not playing any competitive sports to keep myself in shape. Now I walk, averaging five miles a day for the past year and a half. I especially love a long walk through woods or on a beach.
34. The feeling in the air when a snow storm is on its way. It feels like the air is pregnant, about to give birth to snow. Snow still brings out the little kid in me.
35. Springtime — the smells, the sight of cherry blossoms blooming on the mall, and all around the DC area, the sense of new life.
36. Fall. My favorite season.
37. Doing the laundry. I actually find it kind of meditative. My wife appreciates that I like to do it, too.
38. Living in Virginia. We’ve lived here longer than either of us ever lived anywhere else, and while it has its challenges, all in all, it’s great state to live in — especially in Northern Virginia.
39. Friendships. I have lots of friends from lots of different walks of life, and feel like my life is very rich because of the friends I have. I feel very blessed by my friends.
40. Hockey games. I didn’t go to my first NHL game until I was 41, but I’ve gone to a ton of them since then, and really enjoy being there to see the action on the ice, live. I also enjoy it because it is something my wife and I both enjoy doing together.
I’m not going to challenge anyone in particular, but if you read this, consider yourself challenged. It’s kind of fun to put together.