Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Thank you

It's become fashionable, or at least easy, to write silly, sappy blogs at Thanksgiving, telling the world all the things for which one is thankful. I started to skip it, and write instead about watching part of the nihilistic, insane "It's A Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World" last night.

But, nah. Here's the sap.

I'm thankful for my family, of course. They're A, number one, king of the hill.

I am so thankful for this little job of mine, and the fact that I somehow managed to con somebody into paying me to tell stories. I'm still scared that one day I'll wake up and this all will be an extended, beautiful dream. I hate the deadlines, but the writing is bliss.

I'm quite blessed with a bunch of good friends. They constantly brighten my day with laughter and easy, sweet familiarity. It says something, doesn't it, that people continue to love you when they know all of your quirks and baggage. Too many to name here, but they know who they are.

I'm grateful, too, for the so-called friends, who taught me how not to treat others. I'm thankful that there have been precious few of those type friends over of the years. They know who they are too.

I owe a lot to Ernest Hemingway. His work caused me to fall in love with the language, cleared a path toward this peculiar vocation. Somewhere along the way I found Pete Hamill's books, and I owe him a lot too.

And of course that means I'm thankful to my boss, Sandra Clark, who opened up the space to make the job happen, and once let me borrow a copy of Hamill's memoir.

I also have her and Alan Alda (whose episodes of "M*A*S*H" were laced with his personal philosophy) to thank for changing my opinion of women and gender issues for the better. And, oh, how grateful I am to this little family that is the Shopper-News staff. Without them, I'd be just another jerk who thinks he has something to say.

I could type from now until the turkey is laid on the table tomorrow afternoon and not be able to name all of the educators for which I'm thankful. They lit or stoked fires that burned deep within, challenged me to do better, forced me to dig deeper. I owe them something more precious than silver or gold.

I'm forever indebted to Thomas Edison, who created the mechanism by which music could be recorded and shared.

A whole blog could be devoted to the musicians who have enriched my life. So I'll just mention a few --

Elvis Presley, who in his own way, helped a little guy navigate the waters of adolescence. Frank Sinatra, for reasons I don't think need explaining. And RobinElla, for "Teardrops," that hauntingly beautiful song, and for sharing her God given talent and sincere spirit with the rest of us, making those Sunday nights at Barley's magic moments to remember.

To all of you, wherever you are, thanks for the music.

As silly as it sounds, I owe baseball -- if you can owe a game anything -- for filling up the hours of a happy but at times lonely childhood. And I owe something to Skip Caray and Pete Van Wieren, who I can't thank enough if I said gracias a million times. I'm going to miss you fellas.

I owe special thanks to Marvin West, for allowing me to share the game -- and stories of a life in newsprint -- with him. I'm especially grateful to his wife Sarah, whose gentle humor, political perspective and fine Southern cooking I enjoy with equal relish.

Well, another deadline and a late evening are stretching out before me, so I'll leave you now with a wave and the sincere hope that each and every one of you have a safe and happy Thanksgiving. Let's all promise ourselves that no matter what we may be facing, life is indeed good.

It is trite to say it, I know, but we do have much to say "thank you" for.

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