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  Random scratch marks in the digital dirt...

September 19, 2003

Friday Night Lights

I just got back to the house after watching the first three quarters of the FMHS vs. Keller High School football game. This is the second away game for the Jaguars, and after our first experience visiting R. L. Turner earlier this month, we decided not to bother buying tickets before hand. After all, this is just a high school game, and nobody really goes to these things except the parents of the participants, right?

We got there about ten minutes before the kickoff, thinking we'd have plenty of time to get our tickets, find a seat and get settled in. Big mistake...

It was Homecoming at Keller, and their first home game of the season. People were parking anywhere and everywhere. We wound up on the grass about a quarter mile from the stadium, then spent half of the first quarter standing in line waiting for tickets to get in. To Keller High School's credit, they continued to sell tickets long after they ran out of the paper tickets -- the folks at the gate just made sure that money changed hands at the ticket booth. Anyway, buy the time we got into the stadium, FMHS was behind 8 to 0. It looked like it was going to be another long night.

Denise and I were lucky to find seats -- the stadium was that packed. But we were able to talk the drill team sponsors into letting us sit on the first row amongst the ice chests and misc. equipment. Not bad seats and we could hear the band, which is why we were there in the first place.

Amazingly enough the Jags tied the score just before halftime, but we were there for halftime and watching Bailey's performance with the rest of the band. Which is exactly when it hit me -- the parallels between my high school band experience and my daughter's.

Thirty three years ago I stepped out onto the football field for my first halftime marching band performance. Like FMHS my school had only been in existence for a few short years, had very few traditions, and had a football team that was challenged. Like my daughter, I played oboe (back in the days when they allowed oboe players to march with their instrument), and managed to finish the halftime show without screwing up. Friday night football games were some of the best times that I had in high school. The bus rides to and from, clowning around in the stands, the sheer joy of just being around a bunch of kids having the time of their lives.

We've always encouraged Bailey to try new things and get involved with something in school. She tried the athletic stuff, but just didn't have the passion for it. Academically she does quite well, but it's music and art that are her true passion in life. Alas, she has the temperament that goes along with most artists, but at least she isn't wanting to dye her hair blue or pierce her nose.

So many times in the past few years I've heard my daughter say, "But it's different these days, you wouldn't understand -- you're old." Forty-eight years of perspective tell me that not much of any substance has changed over the years. Sure, we didn't pierce our tongues but long hair and bell bottom jeans were just as effective at driving our parents crazy. And tonight when the drum line started its cadence, I could remember those fall nights back in 1971 when I was a rookie marching band member, having the time of my life just as my daughter is today.

Posted by mjwoods at 11:32 PM

September 11, 2003

Enjoy Every Sandwich

For my birthday earlier this week I treated myself to a new CD, The Wind by Warren Zevon. As some of you will know, Warren was diagnosed with mesothelioma, an inoperable lung cancer last year and given three months to live by his doctors. Sadly, he died last Sunday but he exceeded his doctor's prognosis by 9 months, saw the birth of his twin grandchildren, and finished his last album. What a treasure it is! A loving goodbye to his family and friends.

He was a quirky, sardonic songwriter best known for his one major hit, Werewolves of London back in the 70s. He finally found the fame that had eluded him all his career in the closing months of his life while completing his final project, his first number one album.

I've been listening to it for a couple of days now trying to discern what he's saying, all the while reading the tributes that are published just about everywhere, and watching old clips of him and one of his biggest fans, David Letterman.

Not long after his disease was diagnosed, Letterman had him on his show -- his only guest that night. One exchange between the two stuck in my mind:

LETTERMAN: From your perspective now, do you know something about life and death that maybe I don't know now?

ZEVON: Not unless I know how much you're supposed to enjoy every sandwich, you know.

Isn't that a simple, elegant statement of how life is supposed to lived?

I would recommend the CD to anybody, there's so much good stuff on it especially once you realize what he was facing when he recorded it. His vocals aren't as strong as they used to be, but painkillers will do that to you, I suppose. And he's backed up by a Who's Who of talent: Dwight Yoakam, Don Henley, Bruce Springsteen, Jackson Browne, Tommy Shaw, Tom Petty and Emmylou Harris.

I guess my favorite track is the last, Keep Me In Your Heart.

Keep Me In Your Heart
Warren Zevon & Jorge Calderón

Shadows are falling and I'm running out of breath
Keep me in your heart for awhile

If I leave you it doesn't mean I love you any less
Keep me in your heart for awhile

When you get up in the morning and you see that crazy sun
Keep me in your heart for awhile

There's a train leaving nightly called when all is said and done
Keep me in your heart for awhile

Keep me in your heart for awhile

Keep me in your heart for awhile

Sometimes when you're doing simple things around the house
Maybe you'll think of me and smile

You know I'm tied to you like the buttons on your blouse
Keep me in your heart for awhile

Hold me in your thoughts, take me to your dreams
Touch me as I fall into view
When the winter comes keep the fires lit
And I will be right next to you

Engine driver's headed north to Pleasant Stream
Keep me in your heart for awhile

These wheels keep turning but they're running out of steam
Keep me in your heart for awhile

Keep me in your heart for awhile

Keep me in your heart for awhile

Keep me in your heart for awhile

© 2003 Zevon Music (BMI) / Googolplex Music (BMI)

An old friend's mother died late last month. I remember reading the obit in the paper and being conflicted as to what to do. I haven't heard from her in about a year now because of her new husband's wishes, and I've studiously avoided any direct contact with her since. Not that I haven't been tempted many times, but why darken anyone's digital doorstep when you're not wanted. Yeah it sucks to be forgotten, but life goes on. But now I'm listening to Warren, reflecting on all that he's saying, and wondering if I've set myself up for regrets at the end of all things.

Last week I received an email from the woman who lived next door to me when I lived in New Jersey. Her husband had just died, and she was writing to tell me the sad news. John and Mary were the first adults to treat me as someone who had value and ideas of his own instead of the snot nosed little kid that I suspect that I was at the time. I never thanked him for that.

Most of us won't have a clue as to when we'll leave this rock for good. Zevon was given notice and had a year to put his thoughts and emotions into music for the ones he loved. Well, I can't count on being given a timetable for my demise. I don't think any of us can. Sadly, the business of life always seems to get in the way of telling those we love how we feel. I look at the master calendar in the kitchen and see very few days in the month when something isn't happening. Bible studies, tennis matches, band practices, orchestra practices, tennis practices (lots of practices -- you'd think we'd have gotten it right by now), Planning and Zoning protests, going to musicals, going to football games to watch Bailey march, working on the church web page and trying to find time to keep my own web site current. Not enough time devoted to telling John how much his live added value to mine...

or telling Michelle how sad I am for her loss.

Well I do the best that I can and hope it's enough, but am I really focusing on what's important -- telling those who I care about how I feel, and taking the time to enjoy every sandwich? Probably not, and it's something that I'll have to work on for the rest of my life.

So to the 2.5 readers of my journal, I challenge you to seek out someone who you haven't talked to in a while and let them know how you really feel. I'll be doing the same from this end of the net..

Posted by mjwoods at 08:15 PM

September 09, 2003

They Say It's Your Birthday

Well, I've survived yet another year. Thankfully it's been a better one than last year, although this one has had its moments also. But that's dwelling in the past, and I've made myself a promise this year to look forward more than backwards.

After spending most of the day deep in the guts of one of the master files at work decoding hexadecimal number strings, I realized that my age in hex is thirty. The base 10 numbering system is so ordinary, so why not be unique and branch off into base 16? Thirty years old... I kind of like it!

Among the cards, both real and electronic, was an intriguing insert. Killer placed a Mass Lottery scratch-off game card in the envelope. When you're, um, thirty years old, you start to reflect on life. Wonder what's missing, where you can make amends, what you can do to inject a bit of excitement into an otherwise normal existence. So with anticipation, I dug into my change bag for a bright, shiny dime. I tend to believe that dimes are best suited for scratch off games. Quarters are too clumsy, and nickels have too much weight to them to perform efficiently. Before starting to remove the coating on the card, I paused to fantasize on what life would be like if I won the Grand Prize -- a Harley-Davidson motorcycle.

So I begin to scratch off to see what numbers I'm playing with.

16 - $100. Hey, I could use $100...

I've been led to believe that owing a Harley is a responsibility not to be taken lightly. It's not like you can just hop on one wearing your Dockers and Top Siders. Accessorizing is crucial, and I had to pause to take an inventory of what clothing I own.

5 - $100,000. Hoo Boy! I could buy a few Harleys for that kind of cash!

OK, I own enough faded Levis to get me by. A few of them are even worn out just right at the bottom of the leg by the heel. While I might be able to get by for a few days with my cowboy boots, they're really the wrong color, so I'd need some black motorcycle boots.

12 - $40. Oh come on, quit teasing me...

Oh, and a new belt -- probably one of those ones fashioned from a primary drive chain. Alas, I don't own any black T-shirts either.

11 - $1,000,000. Yes! I could find something to do with a million dollars!

I'll have to get several H-D T's, though I don't think that Denise would care for some of the slogans on the back. But the T-shirts are required, though washing them regularly seems to be optional.

3 - $500. Admittedly a bit of a letdown, but it would be a nice down payment on a new computer.

All of the Harley riders that I've seen seem to sneer at the thought of wearing a helmet. Perhaps helmets are just for Gold Wing riders. Better put a Do-Rag down on my shopping list.

18 - $10. An even bigger letdown. But I console myself with the fact that a cool million is in play.

I guess the alligator skin billfold would be out. I'd need to get one of those long leather ones with the long chain on it to attach to my belt.

14 - $5. Hey, what's going on here? This won't even cover a trip to Starbucks for Bailey and I.

Cool sunglasses. Eye protection is important, but you've got to look cool in the process. No aviator shades for a Harley rider.

9 - $200. OK, back on an upward tick...

Chaps? A pretty bold statement, and one that I'm not sure that I'm up to yet. Better get some miles under my belt before considering chaps.

2 - $1,000. Alright, keep going! A thousand would pay for a pretty kewl laptop computer!

Let's see... I think that my physique would work well in the Harley motif, though I'd probably have to put on a few more pounds around the middle for the proper effect. I'm not sure if I'd be entirely comfortable letting my jeans slip down far enough to moon the motorists behind me, but perhaps I'll get used to it in time.

1 - $50. The last of my numbers, and they end on a down note.

My heart is racing now, and I can almost feel the wind as it courses over my body as I'm flying down the highway. My body is one with the machine, adrenalin flows through my veins. I sneer at those hapless executives driving their SUVs or talking on their cell phones in their Lexus. This is freedom!

And the winning numbers are: 10 14 13 15

Five dollars? FIVE DOLLARS IS ALL? What about my dreams? My do-rag with the Confederate flag on it. My chilly bottom! My organ donor card... Don't the Mass Lotto folks know that I deserve a million dollars, that I'm ENTITLED to it?

Dreams are what keep us hopeful. They refresh us, they are good for our soul and sometimes they become our destiny. I've had glimpses of what God intends for me in this life, and I don't think it's me as a, um, thirty year old biker. But the fantasy of strapping on a Harley was a wonderful birthday present from a very dear friend. Thank you Killer!

Posted by mjwoods at 10:24 PM

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