Monday, February 22, 2016

Random



 Jenn and the kids back in a couple of days which means lucky you you get another post (or maybe unlucky but then why are you even here?) and lucky me because I haven't had a vegetable in a week. I had hot dogs three times today. Three times! Twice boiled on bread and once with beans. What's that old Bon Jovi song? Salt to the Heart? Whatever it hasn't done me a bit of bad although the constant cloying smell of burnt toast is becoming annoying. And I played the beer league yesterday for the first time in a couple of weeks and I was begging to come off the ice after about three or four shifts. Dying.

 I'll have you know that it isn't just me though when I was in Dublin Jenn and I quote 'only ate out of bags and other packages and only brown stuff' so in other words we're two peas in a pod, with or without the other which is a good thing because we're in this together until they carry one of us out of here in a box, hopefully in about fifty years, hopefully after a particularly vigourous romp if you know what I'm saying.

 If you're going to dream then dream big.

 Anyhow I've been thinking which is unusual in itself. I'm getting older, pushing fifty which is totally ridiculous I mean come on. Overall it's not terrible other than I'm running out of time and I'm getting creaky (er), I mean I can't do what I used to although in Dublin I turned the clock back forever years oh my dog I should be dead. Got to the airport to come back and ordered a Guinness and was legitimately surprised that they there was any left, I thought I drank the country dry. In any case that was an anomaly I am slowing down if only slightly. Wait a second I just shit my pants.

 Okay I'm back.

 The one good thing about getting older, at least in my case, is that I'm figuring things out more and more. Call it wisdom I don't know, I can still be a spaz but I've really got a Zen thing going on when it comes to this world and my place in it for the most part.

 A few days ago an old friend from school wrote a little Facebook post about his brother, who was also a friend of mine. Twenty years ago he was coming back from Ottawa with his fiancee and they hit a patch of ice and then they were both gone. My good friend Mark commented as follows:

Tough to read, Duncan, but beautifully said. I've never had a more powerful sense of the randomness of it all than when Richard died. I also remember understanding, for the first time, that all we can do is make our lives worthy of our lost friends, brothers, and sisters. In Richard's case, that was a pretty high standard. Still missed, still that standard.

 Now for the most part I've been a lucky man when it comes to the randomness of it all. True randomness led me to my career, to my wife and thus to everything I have today. It's enough to make a man a little nervous, to look over my shoulder and wonder what is coming my way but then I look at my parents and see that sometimes things work out and I hope that for me I am also lucky this way.

 When we lost Spencer a few years back and our hearts were broken (2013 he passed, the day Chicago beat the Bruins, I got the news moments after the final buzzer) it was really a jolt. I'd always prided myself on living for the day as best I could but I can't lie, I was caught up in a lot of the noise that clouds the signal. It's ironic in a way that his passing has been a boon to me and to my family in some ways. I'd give it all back to have him coming to Toronto next weekend and heading out for a lifter or six with him but the reality is that in his passing I realized that there was so much more. Some of that was the realization of that randomness, some of it was in the way he lived his life, nuts to the wall. 

 Life is very good for us and I don't just mean in a general glad to be here type of way. We still have bills to pay and educations and retirements to save for and aging parents to worry about but we've gotten past the hurdle of worrying about the cost of a nice dinner out or the foolishness of taking another trip to a place unknown. We're living. It only happens once and we're doing our best to do it up, from the little things, like walking away from the laptop at closing time to play cards with the kids ,to the ones that loom larger, such as a trip to Budapest to celebrate our marriage or to Barcelona to, well, just to have fun and see a beautiful city.

 It's weird because for so many of you (and I salute you!) this talk is all old news and that is fantastic and wonderful and kudos to you. You're shaking your head and saying I just wasted ten minutes for this ... this which is basic and evident to anyone with a brain. But sometimes I think even those of us who intuitively know this truth forget it and for others, well, they don't know it until it's too late.

 But for you young pups out there who are just getting going, getting your education or starting your careers or your marriages or having kids or worrying about how you're going to buy that house ... well first of all of that matters. Education most of all, this is what I tell my kids. Get educated. Learn about the world around you and ensure that you have choices. You may want to sell buttons on a street corner and if that's what makes you happy knock yourself out. But get yourself into a position that if you want to do more than sell buttons then do so.

 Anyhow now I'm rambling lol. But the point is the world can be a pretty overwhelming place even if things are going your way and that's not even talking about how grim the human race is. But this shit goes fast, take it from me. You want to do something, do it. Don't wait. That day may never come.

 And thus ends 'Lectures by an old man, part 897'.

 Carry on. Have a glass of wine. Or the sex. Enjoy.

Sunday, February 21, 2016

The Buddy Holly Story



 Hello out there.

 I'm alive, it's true, although this blog, like the Oilers, is on life support it seems. Part of it is time (we have little of it) and part of it is why would I spend what little of that extra time I have writing about how the Oilers suck once again. A decade of this is hard to take and dog love LT for somehow finding something to write about EVERY DAY for ten years.

 Unreal.

 Anyways a couple of weeks ago I got back to Dublin. Oh Dublin, I love it. Fourth time for me but first since 2010, it seems like we travel a lot (I guess we do considering the three kids and all that) but the reality for me is that Dublin was a distant bell for me. We get to travel together every couple of years but it's a hard sell to say Dublin again when there are so many places to see and Jenn has been there once and I have been there many times.

 I'm fortunate though, eighteen months ago we were purchased by a company out of Dublin. Yep! Lucky, eh? So we had a conference recently and like Brer Rabbit I said oh no don't send me, anywhere but there ;). We worked hard of course but for me it was also an opportunity to go back to some of my old haunts, to me the goal of travel is finding what the locals do, you have to see the Book of Kells and the cathedrals of course but you want to find those old man pubs and hang out with Dubliners and so I've come to the point where I know the city well, it's familiar to me and this is a wonderful feeling.

 Flew overnight on Sunday, landed at 520am Monday and headed to the hotel, showered and changed and off to meetings for the day. Hung in there and so having pints in the hotel bar afterwards (conservatively I estimate I had over forty pints of Guinness in five nights so um ... hooray for me? More hooray that there were no hangovers I guess, Dublin Guinness is the good stuff) with two coworkers whose first time it was we decided to get out and enjoy. We were in the suburbs and downtown was forty minutes and a lot of Euros away and we were running on fumes so I cast about for an idea.

 Kavanagh's. Or Gravedigger's as it is known. The one place I had always wanted to go but had never gotten to, an ancient pub in the middle of nowhere if you're downtown but just twenty minutes away from our suburban hotel. Into a cab and away we went.

 The pub is on the edge of Glasnevin Cemetery, essentially the national cemetery of Ireland. Michael Collins, O'Connell, De Valera, Parnell, Griffith, Casement, Kevin Barry, Constance Markievicz, Behan, Sean MacBride ... they're all there, revolutionaries and poets and politicians and martyrs to the Irish cause. It was black and slightly misty when we arrived and a great stone gate just metres from the entrance to the pub set the mood.

 We walked in and immediately were hit by that old pub smell. It's not a horrible smell don't get me wrong, it's a fine one, all worn wood and lived in, hard to describe but you'd know it. Nobody but a half dozen locals having pints on a Monday night and so we retired to the corner to drink our round and then another and then it was my turn to get pints.

 I head up to the bar and order my round and there's a big fellow, he's right out of Roddy Doyle, massive in his shiny track suit, with a prehistoric caterpillar monobrow, we're talking Jurassic Period gigantic. He takes a look at me and roars 'Holy feck lads, it's fecking Buddy Holly' at which point he and everyone else in the pub sing Peggy Sue while I stand there like a goof and the bartender grins and says I didn't realize what I was getting myself into when I walked in did I?

 They finish singing, laughing and snorting, and your man says to me 'Buddy Holly was fecking great he was!' and I agree and he gives me a derisive sneer and shouts 'He wasn't the King though!' and I nod and smile and then he rips open his jacket to reveal Vegas Elvis, all spangles, and he reiterates just so I know the score 'THE KING!!!!' and I nod and affirm that yes Elvis was (IS!!!), is the King of Rock and Roll and then I take our pints and head back to our corner table where the girls are killing themselves.

 What a night. Rolled in at 1am, up for thirty seven straight hours, a new record. And then we did it all over again. And again. And again. And again. I'm still recovering. I'm an old man you know. ;)

-------------------------------

 Here is where I segue into something about the Oilers.

 Unlike John Kavanagh's in Glasnevin, the Oilers suck.

 That's all I've got.