“You like spaghetti, George? I like spaghetti. I like board games. I like grabbing a trifecta with that long shot on top… that ozone smell you get from air purifiers… and I like knowing the space between my ears is immeasurable… Mahler’s first, Bernstein conducting. You’ve got to think about all the things you like and decide whether they’re worth sticking around for. And if they are, you’ll find a way to do this.”– Mandy Patinkin in Dead Like Me
Tomorrow is Thanksgiving in America. When I think of Thanksgiving, I often recall day trips to Plymouth historical sites, visits on the Mayflower II, high school football in Massachusetts, and, of course, the family get-together. The thing is, a couple of the best November’s I have had were spent, with my wife, on the island of Oahu, where we lived for a short time. That first year in Hawaii, Thanksgiving was with my mother and brother, who visited us. Together, we celebrated in a way we didn’t in Massachusetts, on a lanai with views of the Pacific Ocean. The second was with our friends Colleen and Don at their Mililani home. Our last was on a cruise ship voyaging around the Hawaiian Islands, with the actual day celebrated with amazing views of the Napali Coast. Three unique Thanksgivings in a place I genuinely consider home.
I often think of those three years living in Hawaii with my wife and dog, Mr. Tuttles. Thanksgiving always makes me reflect on the past, so it makes sense that, after several years away, I use this holiday as an opportunity to look towards Hawaii with a reflective gaze. Those may be, when all is said and done, three of the most rewarding years of my life. Born and raised near the ocean on the South Coast of Massachusetts, I never dreamed my journey would bring me to the Hawaiian Islands. This disbelief is valid for travel, let alone relocating, meeting new friends, and becoming filled with feelings of Aloha. The title of this post is a Hawaiian saying that translates as, “Dare to dance, leave shame at home,” loosely meaning, “Just be you.” I am thankful to Hawaii for teaching me to, well, just be me.
“Travel changes you. As you move through this life and this world you change things slightly, you leave marks behind, however small. And in return, life – and travel – leaves marks on you. Most of the time, those marks – on your body or on your heart – are beautiful. Often, though, they hurt.”– Anthony Bourdain
I first started this blog in July of this year, so not long ago. It began out of my most profound hope to scratch a creative itch and share stories with those who want to read them. My second blog post, Exploring Shanghai, dealt with my trip to Shanghai, China, in June/July of 2018. I will not repeat too much for those who read it, and for those who haven’t, please do. It has some great reflections and stories of the month I spent in Shanghai, China, teaching, traveling, eating, and drinking. The one part of my trip to China I did not detail, and wish to do so now, was my weekend journey from Shanghai to Beijing on June 23 & 24 of 2018 and my eventual and emotional walk along the Great Wall of China. So back to China we go, but this time we jump on a bullet train to one of the new Seven Wonders of the World.
“I have no idea to this day what those two Italian ladies were singing about. Truth is, I don’t want to know. Some things are best left unsaid. I’d like to think they were singing about something so beautiful, it can’t be expressed in words, and makes your heart ache because of it. I tell you, those voices soared higher and farther than anybody in a gray place dares to dream. It was like some beautiful bird flapped into our drab little cage and made those walls dissolve away, and for the briefest of moments, every last man in Shawshank felt free.”– Morgan Freeman in The Shawshank Redemption (1994)
The other day, while my wife was at work, the one day of the week she is not remote, I felt terrible. I didn’t feel sick, but rather anxious, and found myself falling deeper into a somber place. I immediately grabbed my phone, put on my music streaming app, and turned on my preprepared playlist, “My Film Scores.” I selected “Constant,” which is from the fourth season of Lost by Michael Giacchino, walked into the sunroom, and moved a chair so I could look out the window. I sat down, eyes closed, and did some deep breathing as the song played. With its slow but beautiful orchestral progression of intersecting piano and violin play, I felt my heart grow warm, regular, and my anxiety slowly dissipated as the instrumental music comforted me.
I am not sure when I began gravitating towards film scores at moments of sadness and heightened anxiety. It’s not new, but it’s not old either. They seem to reset me when I feel low and bring me to a place that only they can guide me. It’s like being transported to an island of one with music broadcast over the speakers, similar to that powerful scene in The Shawshank Redemption, from the quote I use above. Even for a minute, it seems all the craziness, the current reality of life, and my fears and worries are proven imaginary. The villainous face these feelings appear as are finally unmasked, as the music reminds me of who I am and everything is alright. But why film scores? Let’s explore that for a moment.
“Just because you do not take an interest in politics doesn’t mean politics won’t take an interest in you.”– Pericles
Well, it’s November 3, 2020… Election Day in America! I usually submit my weekly blog post on Wednesday of each week, but I thought I would move it up one day to coincide with Election Day since this post is all about the importance of voting. So, let’s get started!
The other day, I read an opinion piece written by Mandy Patinkin, whose acting credits include Dead Like Me, Homeland, and my favorite, The Princess Bride. In this article, he talked about his path to greater political consciousness, and it made me think of my journey to greater political understanding. No, this blog post will not discuss politics today; that’s not the point of my blog or this post. Instead, this is an opportunity to reflect on my lived past and feelings around current moments, as I often do. Join me as I remember my path to greater civic awareness. It’s Election Day in America; let’s remember what that means.
“Archie Graham: We just don’t recognize life’s most significant moments while they’re happening. Back then I thought, “Well, there’ll be other days.” I didn’t realize that that was the only day.”– Field of Dreams
In June 2016, I took my dad to the New York Yankees Old-Timers’ Day game. It was the 70th Anniversary of the event, and we were celebrating my dad’s 70th birthday. We decided to make a weekend of it. So, we enjoyed the city, ate good food, and prepared for a full day of baseball. At the game, we saw many of our favorite baseball players from years past. Still, we watched the old-timers’ game and a regular-season game while sitting in Championship seating at the new Yankee Stadium, which my dad had not yet visited. Free food, comfortable seats, close to the field; it was terrific. We’ve seen dozens of games at Fenway Park and the old Yankee Stadium and sat in basic fan seating, but after years of Yankee games, we finally enjoyed this new stadium in luxury seating. We watched baseball in style, even as we reflected on all those games we sat through before.
“Home is the place where, when you have to go there, they have to take you in.”– Robert Frost
It was over a year ago that my wife and I sold our home. I am sure anyone can tell you, selling a home is stressful, annoying, and probably the worst thing in the world. Ok, that might be overdoing it, but it sucks! While our realtor organized an Open House for one weekend in late June last year, my wife and I needed to escape the process and reboot. As the weekend drew near, the thought of getting away seemed more and more necessary. As I am from Massachusetts and my wife is not, she asked where I would like to go. I answered…home.
I had not been back to the town I grew up in for several years. The closest I had come to going back was when I visited my aunt and uncle when I got married in 2011 and ran the New Bedford Half Marathon in 2015. Now was June of 2019. So…it…had…been…awhile. But this seemed the perfect time to go back and reset after a terrible home selling experience. So, with the dog staying with family, my wife and I set out for the South Coast of Massachusetts. We were heading to New Bedford!