Thursday

02Jan14

I had read this blog before – it made the rounds on social media last year. It was recently re-posted, however, and I was looking it over again. Some good points worth consideration; while I do believe in the power of positive thinking and such, the author brings up some very valid arguments about DOING things. As an educator, I find myself reflecting on this a lot – how do we foster creativity and critical thinking while also giving students tangible skills that will allow them to…well, DO and BE. Real stuff.

My favorite quote though: “Tyler (Durden) said, “You are not your job,” but he also founded and ran a successful soap company and became the head of an international social and political movement. He was totally his job.” Damn. Good point.

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NYE

31Dec13

Came across this and thought it was quite lovely. Happy new year!

 

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Yesterday my 7 year old niece Riley and I did our ‘annual’ Christmas shopping together. This is the second year we have done it – possibly the third, years blur, what can I say? I found a photo from last year, but the year before I don’t recall.

During the year, she sometimes helps me work in my nursery. I track her ‘hours’ and we spend what she made at Christmas time, buying gifts for her family, as well as a few gifts for the local county toy drive that is run by the fire department. We get to hang out together, and always make a coffee stop. It’s a tradition I remember others in my life doing for me when I was little, and I figure a fun, easy lesson in saving money, giving back to others, and it’s adorable and hilarious to see what she picks out for people. I hope to do it with all my nieces and my nephew.

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I try to take note of the things the kids say when I am when them; there is always that sense of ‘being in the moment’ with them, because a year from now, six months from now, they’ve moved on to bigger and bolder topics – I love how you can capture them in their specific moments in time, if that makes sense.

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Anyway, yesterday with Riley , we had a few that stuck out. While driving south on PCH near sunset, she got really excited about the ocean and sun, so we stopped to look. I always try to watch the sunset on the solstices and equinoxes (and, well, really, most days in general) and it was fun to share that, to watch the sun as it dropped in a matter of seconds below Catalina island. We talked about it being the shortest day of the year, and how the earth rotates.

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Winter solstice in HB.

The other highlight though, came while I was eating a late lunch at Nicks on Main Street before we dug into our shopping. We were discussing where we’d take her gifts – to her house for her immediate family to open first thing on Christmas morning, or to my mom’s, her grandma, where we all meet up around 10am that day. “You mean, so they can open mine at Grandma’s, after I open the presents Santa brought me at MY house, and after you open the presents Santa brought you to YOUR apartment?” CUTEST. THING. EVER. It had never occurred to me to think about how a little kid sees the idea of Santa as being for EVERYONE, and in her mind, though I never spoke of it, he clearly makes a stop at my place even though I’m an adult with no kids, just as he stops at her’s, her cousins, friends, etc.

I am now going to have to figure out what items in my home to tell her Santa has brought me over the years…

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Riley’s photo of me. Winter Solstice 2013.


Veterans Day

11Nov13

NCIRE is the organization I have been working with for the past six months or so, while working on the John Mayer tour. We are starting back up in a few weeks, and I’m really excited to be able to continue to build support for what they do: getting vets better access to health care and support services. As a culture, we ‘thank’ our vets, but the reality is many of them struggle with their day to day needs. The stories I heard this summer from the vets that volunteered, or the vets and active duty military that stopped by to talk to us, left me stunned and angry and wishing there was more I could do. It got to a point where I realized those ‘rare’ stories of hardship and loss that vets suffer aren’t rare at all. They are, for many, the norm. It’s a cliche thing to say, but working on this project impacted me in a way that few other projects have.

My maternal grandfather, Ernest ‘Pat’ Moore, served in WWII; he kept a pet dog illicitly while still stationed in the US, made a lot of friends, crossed the Atlantic on the Queen Mary “playing cards in the bathtub”, got to Europe and the war was over.  By his own accounts, he lucked out.  He missed Normandy by weeks and never saw the clean up horror of the camps that many others did. My paternal grandfather however, Bill Jackson, was by all accounts destroyed by the Korean War. His burgeoning baseball career (he was a pitcher on the farm team for Pittsburgh, and according to my father, had a batting average that all but guaranteed he would have had at least a season in the majors had he not gone to war) was ruined by the frostbite that attacked his ankles and wrists, and his war journals are full of horror – it took me years to convince my father to let me see them. I had this realization over the summer, as I trained my volunteers day in and day out about what NCIRE does, that he suffered from PDST. All the stories I’d heard about him started to add up: my grandmother remembering him cowering for years whenever airplanes flew overhead, my father’s memory of him sobbing uncontrollably when a family pet was run over by a car. He died an alcoholic when I was about six or so, some of that his own doing, for sure, but I can’t but help wonder what his life would have looked like had he gotten treatment and support. He was about 20 when he went overseas – it defined his entire adult life.

So, anyway, we talk the talk, and granted, there isn’t much one person can do, but these stories of vets waiting 18 months to get approved for disability after literally being blown up while oversees (a story I heard so many times, unsolicited, this summer that it statistically can’t be the ‘anomaly’), of losing homes and limbs and jobs and not getting any support, is atrocious. The VA estimates that 22 veterans a DAY commit suicide – a DAY! – and admits that number is likely low due to incomplete data. It’s a silent epidemic; most vets won’t be their own advocates, one doesn’t bite the hand that is at least suppose to feed them, and the culture of the military is such that one often doesn’t want to speak up. It’s on us to demand more, to make this go beyond a token day of appreciation. Regardless of how one feels about war and conflict the bottom line is that those who serve 1. are often from lower socio-economic means and don’t have the ability to ‘just take care of these things’ themselves, and 2. a contract is a contract. We, as a culture, are not holding up on our end of the contract right now. And it’s going to require a cultural shift to make that happen.

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My paternal grandfather, Bill Jackson

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The infamous Pat Moore in uniform.


19Sep13

On tour this summer I was doing work for a great organization (http://www.ncire.org) working to bring better healthcare to veterans. The stories I heard from volunteers that were active duty or vets as well as from fans who were in the military left me stunned; you read about this stuff, but unless you are directly impacted by it, I don’t think the vast majority of us realize what a crisis is happening. I had at least a dozen different vets tell me about being in similar situations to this story: the VA is overwhelmed and can’t adequately treat them, so they prescribe painkillers after painkillers, and it’s literally killing people. “The number of patients treated by VA is up 29 percent, but narcotics prescriptions are up 259 percent. “

 

Read the article here.


Sunday.

15Sep13

As much as I love the travel and movement that touring involves, nothing beats that first Sunday home in weeks, when you know you’ll be home for a stretch. Bike ride and coffee and lunch with a friend, a glorious nap on my couch with the ocean breeze, time with niece and nephew, dinner with my mom, a late evening walk. Immensely grateful to be able to live in a place where I can hear fog horns and waves crashing through my open windows at 9pm on a Sunday. Perfection.

 

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Saturday

03Aug13

Happily sleeping with my windows open as I do every summer, only it’s mild here, chilly. A lovely respite from the heat of the places we’ve been on tour, and the frigid a/c of the bus and hotels. Back out Monday, but it’s been a perfect week at home.

It smells like bonfire tonight; I don’t know if that’s from neighbors with a firepit or from the fire rings on the beach in Bolsa Chica three miles south. It’s a wonderful smell though. While I was waiting for my coffee at the place I’ve long gone to in Huntington, inside a surf shop, I was thinking how great that scent is – surf shops always smell of wax and the sea and salt. The inside of my old Mustang, this distinct aroma that I love and reminds me of being 17. Weird what a powerful trigger scent can be.

So this evening I will lie in bed and imagine I’m outdoors, thinking of beach bonfires from years ago, of how quick time always seems to go by, of places i still want to see. Waxing nostalgic lately, I guess.

What I love most about touring work, I think, is how it makes you appreciate: travel and people and hard work, and also where you live and where you are from. I always come home and see stuff with fresh eyes, deeply appreciative for all I have. It seems to help cut out all the BS and grasp what really matters. An excellent way to spend a summer.

So, two more sleeps here then onward. A rougher run this time, then right back into teaching, but I’m grateful for it all, and excited to head back. Will miss this ideal summer here, but suppose that is what makes you appreciate it all the more.

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