Saturday, December 31, 2011

Close The Tab

Ending the year with food and drink and music. Old Man Hodge. His lady friend. Lookout. Woodchuck. The Quarter. Nothing too radical. Don't want to temp a visit from The Law. A burger. Some beers. And an odd band that plays everything from The Eagle's Hotel California to C-Lo's Eff You.

Time to close the tab on 2011. Turning 40. Finally putting together the pieces. A lot of training. Bunch of races. Never been better. Spot of trouble at the office. Continued delays on budding prospects. Liam's music. Meg's writing. The kids continuing to grow beyond my anything I ever expected. Cindy's change of careers and return to school.

2012 ought to be interesting. An all new adventure. For all of us.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Next Steps

Time for another challenge. Some loony, self-imposed sanction to prove to myself that I'm capable of doing the things I never did when I was younger. A protest against those haunting voices of my past. Raging against everyone who doubted or underestimated. Including myself.

So my next steps will include training for a half marathon. The Rock N Roll Marathon, March 4th, in New Orleans, LA. Thirteen miles through the heart of that ancient Crescent City.

Of course I've never run more than 5K. Or 3.1 miles. But this time last year, I hadn't  even run that far. Or competed in a triathlon, either. Didn't let that stop me. Plus, I think a half marathon is a natural progression for me. And if I can do that, I can probably do a half Ironman.

I'm going to try. Try real damn hard. And I'll finish. Even if I have to crawl across the finish line.

Monday, December 26, 2011

The Greatest Present

Everyone seems happy. Easily the least dramatic holiday season we've had together. Nobody really sick. Nobody passing away. Nobody disappointed or depressed. The odd air of happiness that has caught me off guard. I keep expecting an outbreak of anger and venom any moment. Instead I get Meg choreographing routines on Just Dance III while Liam plays on his new electric bass in the background. She picks a new song. He plucks out the beats, one note at a time. Peace & quiet at the McDougal house? The greatest present I could receive.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Lost Along The Way

Interesting break from the norm at church. Local string orchestra joined the fray. Special performance. Nothing modern. Nothing electric. A pure and powerful acoustic set. Then the choir joined in. Including Glenda. (Hidden behind the conductor.) Their word joining with the clear, cool notes. Bleeding together against the church walls. Voices and musicians and instruments. Under the stained glass dome. All of us rapt by the sound and motions of it. Including me. All water-eyed as I think that sweet Meg and grim jawed Liam might be up there. Some day. Adding their light to the too bright glare. Both of them capable of so much more than their father ever was.

How did this get lost along the way? Musicians playing. Singers singing. Families and couples sitting together. Just enjoying an orchestra and an accompaniment of gowned choir folk. No screaming front men. Or howling  groupies. Or sweating dubstep pumping DJs with their taped-up headsets. Or the drugs. Or the booze. Or any of the other ten millions things we have keeping our eyes into our brains and convincing ourselves that we're blind and deaf without a blackberry in one hand and a venti non-fat double decaff in the other.

Just performers. And music. And words. That's all. But it was the performance I'll remember the most this year. A too bright glare amid too many unbright days.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Meg's Christmas Choir

Long day. Concluding with a visit to Meg's Christmas Choir. Usual litany of holiday songs. But on Joy To The World, I could hear distinctly hear my little girl singing her heart out. And when they sang Up On The Rooftop, it was transformed into Rap On The Rooftop. All the kids whipped out Santa hats and sunglasses. Then they took creative license with the lyric. Put a slightly modern spin on it. Completely enjoyed themselves. And the crowd went wild. All the while, Meg was feeling the funk and getting her unique little groove on. Beautiful to behold. And angelic. As always. Meg adds light to our lives. She never fades. Ever.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Health Through Duress

My shoulder is better. Much better. My wrist is better. Much better. Hardly notice any ills now. Scale of 1 to 10? 8.5!

Started working out again this past Saturday. Nothing heavy. Nothing spectacular. Or impressive. But DAAAAAMN does it feel good to lift again. Lots of cardio. Lots of sweat. And some light lifting. Full range of motion. Move slowly. Maintaining full control. Two weeks of slack helped. But getting back on the weights feels like it is helping more. Some odd mechanism of health through duress.

Need to hit the road and train for a half-marathon. One coming in March. But I've run in a week. Too damn cold here in South Hell. But I'm going to have to fight through it and get up to speed or run the risk of walking thirteen miles. And that won't be pretty. But for now, I'm fine as fish fur.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Tolar Turns Five

Tolar turns five today. Cindy's nephew. Darren's son. Liam's buddy. Quite the interesting little character. Sullen and careful with his actions. Keeps a strict economy of words. Makes me laugh when he decides it is the right time to speak to me. An old soul, I think. Like his cousin, Liam. Kindred spirits.

Pizza and a Batman cake. Angry birds blank, duplicate Nerf pistol, and Bayblades. What more could a boy of five need? Good times for the youngest lad in the family. Topped off by a win for the Saints, Cindy's final test, putting up our Xmas Tree, and a late dinner at TGI Friday's.

A slow Southern Sunday concludes a slow Southern weekend. Enjoying it while it lasts.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Kim's Wedding

I went to college with Kim Kelly. Both of us with aspirations of writing. We drank more than we should have. Read a lot of books. Wrote some interesting stuff. Struggled with relationships. Each trying to find a path through the morass of our private realities. Nearly sixteen years ago, Kim came to my wedding. Today, Cindy, Meg, and I went to Kim's wedding. Liam, in his infinite wisdom, has decided he has had enough of weddings for a while. He opted to spend time with Gigi (Glenda) and Cousin Tolar. Much more fun, he says, than a wedding. Meg, however, was thrilled to be able to dress up and see two people get married.

Regardless of Liam's expectation, the wedding was great. Started with music from a pianist, a violinist, and a cellist (Liam's instructor!) The church was fairly new. A recent build of a Presbyterian congregation that used to reside on the beach, until Katrina. The music lead to the official ceremony. Slow creeping entrance of the groom and his crew in crisp grey attire. The bridesmaids approach in sleeveless purple. Then Kim. A longish, soft white dress. Hand in hand with her beautiful little girl, Zya. Very subtle, though very traditional affair: love, admonitions, vows, promises. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder. And we, the watery-eyed friends and family, begin the crawl to the reception.

Bayou View Tennis Club. Vents blowing frigid air. Until Sheridan (another co-writer from college) speaks her mind.  The four of us sitting by the glass, overlooking the river. Talking about New York, theater, Meg's writing, Liam's music, Cindy's career, triathlons, and wine. The bride & groom arrive. We eat at the modern Southern buffet. Cindy eats too little. I eat a little extra. We hug the newlyweds. Give them our best wishes and prayers. Cake is cut. Cake is eaten. Somewhat quiet. Somewhat subdued. And tomorrow, their life begins anew. Where there were two, now there is one.

Good things come to those who wait. And great things come to those who wait the longest. Godspeed, Kim Kelly. Godspeed.

Thursday, December 01, 2011

Goofy Technology

So we make a connection. Liam from home. Me behind an overly-Gestapo corporate firewall. He's on a laptop with a webcam. I'm on a souped-up workstation powering six monitors and supervising a billion dollar facility.

Even though neither of us install any software and we're using two different operating systems and I'm not even equipped for voice or video, but we fire up a Google+ Hangout and everything syncs. Point click. We're able to almost instantly communicate.

A couple of years ago, only true geeks were setting up direct connections like this. Pray everyone's webcam works. Find some sort of middleware to bridge the connection. Firewall ports. Bandwidth concerns. Everyone using the save code. Same version. Patch levels. But today? Point. Click. Communicate. Moses and the burning bush didn't have it this good.

And how do my kids show their appreciation for being able to access this amazing level of digital wizardry? By making faces,  streaming LOLCats, and finding the most inappropriate use of the now goofy technology. A billion moving parts, and they put it to good use making themselves laugh. And me along with them. 

As usual, I'm enjoying it while it lasts. They won't be young and affectionate forever.