Sunday, December 4, 2016

Having Second Thoughts

One day short of four weeks from today, the first day of the next year will be drawing to a close. How is that even possible? Two thousand and sixteen was just arriving, filled with challenge/fueled by hope and here we are with the remnants of those hopes tracked across the living room carpet like so much of so what.

You remember 2016. This was the year we were to do, we were to talk, we were to live large and to be. And what happened? We allowed so many others, maybe too many others (who've already given up on their dreams) to creep in as poor players and poison what wells of hope we'd held for ourselves.

We can blame the economy for the politics of anger, though we know the reverse is just as easily as true. For my part, I'm exhausted, physically and emotionally. It's like I'm running through soup and sand, my feet never quite lifting from and clearing the ground, each stride a broken parody of what it once was with my arms pushing through air I can taste rather than feel. 

And the harder I try the farther behind I fall. I started out beside you but have spent the year watching you disappear before me, long strides taking you over the horizon and when I get to where you were, you're gone with no trace, no track, and no regret. Sic transit humanitas.

This is the year I've been forced to concede the face in the mirror has aged and that the man behind the face hasn't nearly as many springs left as he thought he had and more on point, has squandered, rather than saved, those moments of meaning he thought would come along again as easily as they did the first time. I've actually felt the dullness of the ache in the pit of my stomach and the shocked realization of regret and realization the next time can be the last time always brings with it as a constant companion.

Like many these past months, I blinked at critical moments and lost sight of the important in the rush of the real as the latter became surreal and unreal before disappearing by the dawn's early light. The year in which I had vowed to sort myself out has nearly run its course and the next one will be over even faster than this one, with less to show for it as the distance already traveled never equals the distance yet to go. 

The sense of adventure is replaced by dread as the days draw down and the year ends. The toast we'll make for much success in the new year assumes both will exist but accepts the implication that neither is promised. "The dog days are over. The dog days are done." But it remains the what's next that will keep me awake.
-bill kenny 

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Shinola's Running Buddy

I was in third grade, Mrs. Hilge's class (3B), when astronaut Alan Shepard was launched into (near) space. I was still a kid so adults and their nuances about sub-orbital flight were distinctions without difference in my book. Outer space was the place and it was black and dark from where I sat.

I do sort of remember my mom having a conversation with a nun at the school because when I was asked what I was most worried about as Shepard was blasting off, I offered 'how fast his heart must be beating.' Turns out, in Catholic school, the answer we were looking for, Jim, was 'his soul.' Two additional weeks in Purgatory for me and friend, assuming I had one.

I loved space flight-had a whole collection of the Tom Swift adventures and understood they weren't real, but really wanted to believe they were. For a long time (bear in mind I was in 3rd grade, right) I drank Tang because... well, because the astronauts, darn it!

I've since read where even the low-end of consumer smartphones today have more computing power than NASA had for most of the Space Race. Considering I have trouble getting my smartphone to even work as a phone, I'll treat the foreplay as read on the computational power currently being harnessed so I can send pictures of my breakfast to someone who sends me cat memes.

It never occurred to me space travel was dangerous, though in retrospect I should concede sitting atop an Atlas rocket crammed with some kind of fuel that someone basically set afire in the belief that the thrusting exhaust would push the whole kit and kaboodle skyward and away from the bounds of gravity is quaint and just a bit na├»ve. As long as somebody knew how to do it, I never lost any sleep about it.

Which means half a century later, I'm not qualified to address NASA's "Space Poop Challenge" (I think you should hear some echo when you read that; I did when I typed it, sort of like the Muppet Show's "Pigs in Space" (but without the pigs)).

And you thought I was making that Challenge stuff up. This is some serious shi---stuff that NASA is concerned about. And with good reason. If we're going to colonize the universe we need to have secure sources of input and output, so to speak, for every traveler. There are no sightings yet reported of gas stations with clean bathrooms between here and Mars.

I mean, we all know where a bear goes to answer the call of nature or if the Pope is Catholic. And at least one of us now knows better than to ever get those two confused. Ever.
-bill kenny  


Friday, December 2, 2016

In the spirit of the season

It's almost time to accept that this weekend we may not be as successful in avoiding holiday shopping as we were last time around.

For instance, I think I've used my go-to line, "the money's all broken," for the very last time this season on my beloved. I'm pretty sure if I try to drag it out again I'll get a swift swat to the back of my head and it won't be a love-tap.

Truth to tell, I think she's still angry about the full-blown hysterical tantrum I threw last year in the parking lot at the hardware super-store, but in my defense, they had that coming what with having sold out of most but not all, of the wire and light Santa's reindeer. In our political climate, what kind of person chooses The Magi as a substitute for Rudolph?

So, if this is the weekend we must yield to commerce, I hope this helps reframe your perspective.
-bill Kenny

Thursday, December 1, 2016

It's a Family Affair

There are instances in this space where I celebrate large events-my New York Yankees winning Major League Baseball's World Series (ok-poor, recent example) or the foibles and follies of our fellow travellers here on the Big Blue Marble but today I get to play the 'it's my blog and I'll write what I want to' card (with a small apology to Leslie Gore) and that probably means you're not involved unless today is (also) your birthday or you know someone, or of someone, whose birthday today (also) is.

My sister, Evan Dolores, has a birthday today and will in light of some this past year's events, observe the completion of the earth's annual orbit round the sun in a manner best suited and most pleasing to herself.

If you stop in here on  regular or irregular basis (you might want to see a doctor about that irregularity, by the way and add fiber) and are wondering where this is going and when your part starts. You just missed it. As I already told you, it's my sister's birthday and I hope she has a wonderful time. And I also probably hope you do, too, but you're not kith and kin so if you don't, you don't.

I remember a ridiculously long time ago giving Evan and a friend a lift to go see these guys back when they were absolutely amazing and, for the most part, still getting along. Unless you remember the name of the other passenger in the car with us or you were that person, roll the window back up and move along. 
Nothing to read here.
-bill kenny

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

A Celebration of Small Things

As of midnight tomorrow, we are down to the last month of this year; yep, today is the last day of the next to last month of this year. I find that almost impossible to believe especially when I recall my 'Things I'll Do' list for 2016 was lost about forty-five minutes after I accomplished compiling it.

I'm a half-full glass kind of a guy so I tell myself I've set the bar lower for next year's list and hope for the best. Sometimes we're in such a rush to get to what's next and new, we look through or past moments we could and should savor.

We had just such a moment, in an extended form, this past holiday weekend and I hope you had an opportunity to enjoy some of it. Hopefully no one was so busy with the nuts and bolts of the Thanksgiving Day meal and shopping rush afterward to not appreciate the efforts of friends and neighbors from all across the city for Friday's Lighting of City Hall followed on Saturday in rapid succession by the Norwich Winterfest 5K Road Race and then The Winterfest Parade from Chelsea Parade to Franklin Square.

We may not agree on any aspect of municipal government in Norwich, and that's our good right, but I'm absolutely sure we would agree that our City Hall is a gem, and when it's dressed up for the winter holidays, surrounded by throngs of happy faces and singers of seasonal songs, it's magic and that's what we had Friday. If you haven't yet had the chance to stop by City Hall after dark, you really should as there are no words to capture how lovely it looks this time of year.  

And you should also put an evening visit to Chelsea Parade on your itinerary because work crews, as they always do, finished constructing the Red Rose of New England prior to Saturday's Winterfest Parade. I made it a point to grab some photos of it in all of its illuminated glory on my way back from City Hall Friday evening.

The great thing about celebrations like those we had last week is that they are very much community events in every sense of the word. People just like the ones who live on your street and on my block join together months and more in advance to work on the hundreds and thousands of individual threads that when woven together, create the colorful and memorable tapestries we'll tell our children and grandchildren about.  

Memories are moments such as these and we are fortunate to have so many selfless and kindhearted friends and neighbors willing to both make and to be the difference. Whether you counted down the seconds at City Hall, one of the nearly five hundred runners in Saturday's Road Race or part of the sidewalk cheerleading crew later for the parade, or helped to make it all possible, thank you! You’re why Norwich is a great place to live.
-bill kenny

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Have Yourself a Merry .......

Have you started on your Christmas shopping yet?
I know, I'm supposed to say 'holiday' shopping in the interests of inclusion and that's very much what I mean, but I revert to what I called it when I was a kid and we called it Christmas shopping.

In trying to explain to our two now adult children where their old man grew up, I realized some time ago that until I went to prep school for high school I didn't actually know anybody who wasn't a Roman Catholic. I'm pretty sure that wasn't by design. It's just everybody I grew up with were the same people I went to Mass with.

I always smile when I think of Monsignor Harding, whose first name I never knew (I may have been a full grown-up before realizing he undoubtedly had a first name. I just never heard it spoken aloud by anyone, that's for sure.) as he heard Confessions every Friday morning in the basement of St Peter Church which is where Sister Mary Jean marched all of us from Class 8-A on a weekly basis.

For the life of me, I couldn't understand what this woman thought we did all week that we had to confess every Friday. Sometimes, I actually made stuff up because I wasn't sure I had enough sins. Yes, I know now that lying about sin is, in itself, a sin, but I was thirteen and working on mysteries without a clue. I grasped the sanctity of the confessional and was scared silly at how dark it was 'in the booth' when I closed the door. For a moment, it was just me and God.

I could always sort of hear, but very muffled, Monsignor talking to the miscreant at the other partition and when I heard that window slide shut, I knew the drill: Monsignor was pivoting on his chair to my side, and was sliding open the door. Release the hounds....

Sign of the Cross and Bless me Father for I have sinned.
It has been one week since my last confession.
What would I say to him now? It's been decades, Monsignor; funny how time slips away, right? Hilarious.

Monsignor would always assure us eighth-graders that when he exited the Confessional, he could remember NONE of what had gone on inside and yet......on more than one occasion, when I'd offer 'I fought with my sister' or 'I was mean to my little brother', I could hear him sigh as he'd then say, 'Billy, you did that last week! Will you never learn?' And I'd straighten up on the kneeler and near-whisper, 'you said you don't remember this stuff outside the box!' 'Well, I don't,' he'd say.'Then how didja know it was me, then, Monsignor?'

He may still be working on an answer for that one, I guess because I don't ever remember hearing it.
Perhaps another Christmas miracle? I meant holiday miracle.
-bill kenny

Monday, November 28, 2016

One of these Days

We'll have to go some to top the last half of last week, right? Thanksgiving Thursday, Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, Today, Cyber Monday. And ??

Oh yeah, yesterday, the First Sunday of Advent. I knew one of these things was not like the other.

Feel free to use your tablet, smartphone or new computer purchased today to look up why.
-bill kenny