Friday, October 30, 2015

Knowing Me, Knowing You; It's the Best I Can Do

I'm kind of bored, very busy, and just plain out of stuff to write about.  So here are some random Ryan facts:

Favorite Restaurant of All Time:    Dreamland
Favorite Foods:    Ribs from Dreamland, fried chicken or Catfish, red dye #2 hot dog from Maine, Clam Chowder (ask me about the famous Ryan soup diet)
What I'd Request for My Last Meal if I'm Ever Executed by ISIS or the Tea Party:    Dreamland Ribs and a side of biscuits
Favorite Fancy Restaurant:  Mary Mahoney's (Biloxi, MS), the Dickens Inn (Philly, damn it's closed)
Other Place I Really Like:   the Dobbin House Inn, May's Restaurant (Frederick), any Catfish joint adjacent to the Delta of Mississippi, nasty lobster joint on a peer in Maine, Puerto Sagua

Favorite Drinks:   Sweet Tea, Beer, Pepsi, Coffee
Favorite Sweet Tea:   Dunkin Donuts, Chick-fil-A
Favorite Beer:  Blue Moon, Yuengling, Dos Equis
Favorite Coffee:  Sheetz, Green Mountain
Favorite Coffee Blend:  Jamaican Blue Mountain, Costa Rican Peaberry
Favorite Desserts:  Lemon Icebox Pie, Bread Pudding w/bourbon glaze, Pecan Pie, Blondies (as in the cookie/brownie although I do like Blondes as well!)

Favorite Quick Service Restaurant:     Chick-fil-A, then probably Chipolte

Favorite Sports Teams:  Washington Redskins, Washington Nationals, Denny Hamlin (NASCAR), anything Big State University
Favorite Sport to Play:  Basketball, Raquetball, Chasing women on AM, swimming
My Best Sport:    Swimming, getting turned down by women on AM
Favorite Sport to Watch:  College Football
Teams I Hate the Most:  Dallas Cowboys, Los Angeles Dodgers, New York (anything), Kurt Busch, the Big 10, the Duke Blue Devils (yes I still hate Christian Laettner),

Favorite Game of Thrones Character:  Tyrion
Game of Thrones Hottie I Want the Most:  Ygritte (screw you R.R. Martin for killing her off)
All Time Favorite HBO Series:   East Bound and Down
Favorite Don Draper Quote:    "it will shock you how much it never happened..."

Favorite Burger Place (chain):     5 Guys, In 'N Out when I'm on the left coast.
Favorite Burger Place (indy):  Beef Burger, Greensboro, NC (of Bull Durham fame)

Dunkin Donuts or Krispy Kreme:     Krisky Kreme (when they're hot!) but Dunkin for coffee

My Favorite Town I Don't Live in:     Miami, maybe New Orleans
Place I Haven't Been to but Want to:      A Greek Island in the Med
Place I've Been to Far Away where I Think I Could Live:   Northern Arizona, Dahlonega, GA, just outside of Nashville, TN
Biggest Guilty Pleasure:  I love country music from the late 60's (e.g. Glen Campbell)

Political Philosophy:  the world would have been a better place if Bill Clinton got Monica to swallow!  Really, think about it; if she swallows Al Gore wins the 2000 election and there is no Iraq War, no Great Recession, etc!  Yes, I'm a Blue-Dog Southern Democrat (big time)!

Favorite Books:  Catcher in the Rye, Jonathan Livingston Seagull, the Incredible Journey of Edward Tulane, to Kill a Mockingbird (Atticus Finch was my all time favorite liberal Southern Democrat until I found out he was secretly a racist - oh the lament)

Favorite Sandwich Place:     Macado's (get the Titanic), Littlejohn's Deli

Favorite Pizza Ever:      Margarita Pizza at Azzuro in Napa.

Myers-Brigs Personality Type:  ESTJ

My Type (of women):  Gotta be outgoing and jovial
or nobody will start the conversation (once you get me started I'm fun but I need someone to initiate), gotta be energetic and enjoy being active - I walk REALLY fast (I'm told), not a big "tit" guy but I love long lean sexy slightly athletic legs, good hip to waist ratio but not overly into the Marilyn Monroe hourglass look, I like tall and willowy with long straight shoulders, I love confidence, stylish (but not married to it), well spoken and intellectual but not ostentatious.  Basically Shannon without the ostentatiousness, which is basically Sandee (except more diminutive).  I do a great job of being the straight man if she wishes to be in the spotlight, I do well with silly and a little intellectually and artistically scattered (a la Jennifer Aniston in Along Came Polly).

Perfect Date:     A drive along Skyline Drive, a brisk hike to a mountain overlook, some wine tasting, a great dinner, and then on to an intimate quaint country B&B for (you know).  Or a big game at Big State U!

Favorite Color:     Royal Blue, Maroon, Forest Green

Seasonal Fashion:   I'm a fall

Favorite Song (other than Stairway to Heaven or Freebird):   Interstate Love Song by the Stone Temple Pilots

Best Concert I've Attended:  Foo Fighters and Red Hot Chili Peppers

Some Famous People I've Met:  Andy Griffith, Mrs. Cunningham (you know Richie's mom), Chuck Yeager, Pink, James Taylor, Richard Dreyfuss, Gilligan and Hillary!  Saw Hootie and the Blowfish many times before they were famous.

OK, there may be a few more things about me other than food, sports, and women but I doubt it.

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Providence Blinked Facing the Sun

"where are we left to carry on"

A Requiem for A Marriage

Until the Day is Done is a 2008 track from REM's Accelerate album.  It debuted on Anderson Cooper 360 to promote the documentary Planet in Peril featuring Cooper along with Sanjay Gupta and Jeff Corwin.  The lyrics are thought provoking and cautionary in nature.

"An addled republic, a bitter refund," speaks to the unintended negative consequences when we don't nurture the world around us as the documentary depicts.

"As we've written our stories to entertain, these notions of glory and bull market gain.  The teleprompt flutters, the power surge brings an easy speed message falls into routine."  Of course one should never presume to know what Michael Stipe is thinking but it seems as if he asks us to take heed in measuring our past glories too richly lest we revel in the routine that fails to nurture the future.

"Providence blinked, facing the sun; where are we left to carry on."

Yes, when we blink at providence we fail to nurture and when we fail to nurture where are we left to carry on?

Dan and Cathy have been our neighbors for eleven years.  If I could take you back to 2004 and introduce you to them you would come away thinking they were the perfect couple.  Both attractive, warm, engaging people who have two lovely kids who've grown up with our girls over the years. Cathy was Dan's college sweetheart and they seemed to be an extension of one another.  Dan and Cathy used to teach a marriage class at their church.  We even attended their church a few times.  I actually enjoyed it which is quite a thing for "heathen Ryan."  Their minister is from my birth state and I enjoyed talking to him as geographically we had much in common.  I would have continued to go but he often mentioned "Demoncrats" in his sermons and that kind of turned me off.  I know I sin often but I didn't think being a liberal Democrat was necessarily a sin.

But anyway, through the years Dan and Cathy have been dear friends and it has been providence to see our families grow up together.

About two years ago Shannon and I noted that we were not seeing Dan as much as we used to.  One night a few weeks after that conversation, Cathy revealed to Shannon, during one of their evening walks, that Dan had moved out.  Cathy had indicated to Shannon previously that there were below the surface challenges in the marriage.  Dan has a very good sales related job and aspired to a someone elevated lifestyle.  That was at odds with Cathy, a part time secretary, who just wanted to enjoy what they had.  Dan wanted Cathy to step up financially.  Cathy, however, is a very simple person and did not wish this lifestyle, only to enjoy and enhance their current lifestyle.  She grew up in a military family so was never used to a lot but certainly enjoyed staying put.  All she ever wanted was to finish the basement and send the kids to camp.  Dan wanted a vacation home. Suddenly the marriage counselors and perfect couple were at odds.  Dan was restless and Cathy, beautiful though she is, seemed boring and a hindrance.  It is at these times that we blink at providence which is exactly what Dan did.

Dan is an avid golfer and he met a woman at his club, a new divorcee.  She was apparently more exciting and Dan took the temptation.  Apparently, to her, Dan seemed the ideal "catch."

Now before we all call Dan out as the dirty dog here let's understand that perhaps we don't live in a world where evil is concentrated in a few and fault is mutually exclusive.  Cathy is one of those women who has a new selfie of herself everyday on Facebook.  She always has to make mention of the fact that she has been "baking herself to death all day."  As her daughter progressed through high school it seemed as if Cathy began to live vicariously through her.  Every dance, every college trip had selfies of the smiling mother and daughter.  Of course, this is how it is supposed to be; we, as parents, should relish and embrace this time.  But we must remember it is not, in fact, our time; just the joyous time of our children's lives we get to view with delight.  I suspect Cathy's vicarious living alienated Dan at a time when they perhaps should have been reconnecting as their children became more independent.  I suspect that Cathy's vicarious living pushed Dan away and only served to incentivize Dan's wandering eye.

The marriage, which not so long ago appeared as providence, was now addled and ready to meander off the tracks.  Now under focus, the marriage which seemed so perfect showed the festering cracks of emotional drought.

It was not too long after I found out about Dan's situation that I saw him at the gym with the new girlfriend.  He introduced me to her with a sheepish look as his girlfriend.  Of course she seemed nice enough and I just said hi.  What does one say to a woman you don't know who is having sex with a man who used to be your neighbor.  The neighbor who's kids grew up with yours.  My daughter was with me and Dan's son was with him.  My daughter, the son, and I just quietly wandered off to play basketball.  It seems the only thing one can do is turn your head and hope the wreck in front of you somehow goes away.

I felt bad for Dan's son.  He is such a nice kid but very shy and not particularly strong academically.  Dan and Cathy's daughter is in all honors classes and, at the time, had one foot out the door (she is now in college).  I had suggested some local schools to her but it was clear she wanted to go as far away from the mess that was now her life as possible.  I didn't blame her.  But, the son (just a sophomore) had no escape.  Sometimes now, the son will come over.  A meal at the Beaumont's, ping pong, or just watching TV must seem like a quiet segue for him.  Quit the irony considering the wrath that is so typical between Shannon and I.  However, Shannon and I, in a rare moment of solidarity, worried about him and wished we could help.

Dan and Cathy did eventually divorce.  Soon after Dan had a break-down and broke up with the girlfriend.  Recently, Cathy confided in Shannon that Dan has begged her to take him back.  But Cathy, in her new-found freedom, had interested men.  She had started dating and did not want Dan back.  Unfortunately love and caring is not a resealable pouch, you can't put the Genie back in the bottle.  The deep wounds Dan had caused would never heal and now the only outcome could be moving on.

But Dan has been having trouble accepting that Cathy has moved on.  He has essentially been stalking her thorough the son via texts and phone calls confirming where she is.  He has visited the house waiting for her to come home.  It is scary how someone who seemed so "regular" has come apart and something that seemed like providence is now irreparably undone.  And among the nasty wreckage is the psyche of the children left to cope in the wake of the storm the adults created.

It makes me sad.  I have often told Shannon that the difference between successful understanding and outrage is often 20 seconds of listening.  Such a small price to pay and yet too often the cheapness of impatience and restlessness win us over.  We pursue a false vision.  We blink at providence because we look at a pleasant facade that conceals a less pleasant reality.

Perhaps 2004 was not any better for Dan and Cathy than it was for Shannon and Ryan but I mourn for the hope that I had back then and the faith I had in others who seemed to have what I wanted.

"the battle is lost, the war is not won..."

But "until the day is done" "forgive us our trespasses, father and son."

Requiem for a Marriage

Was there a moment in the past
When spoken words were not hurled back in pain
When Possession was not ownership, but sharing
A touching of flesh and mind
A parcel of eternity 
Golden and gift wrapped 
In the innocence of youth

Now tattered and torn
Stripped of all illusion
We lie alone, together in the night
Our lives float now on separate waters
Down different turning streams
An end to youthful dreams

eileen petsco