Thursday, November 28, 2013

Five Things on Thanksgiving

Five things I’m thankful for on Thanksgiving, 2013:
1.  My Wife.  
Sally is a beautiful woman, which is something that I’ve always found amazing.  I don’t think of myself as a particularly good-looking guy, but I am somehow married to this brick house of a woman, and it amazes me.  Every single day.  And, oh by the way, Sally also has a Master’s degree from Columbia University, and she teaches fitness classes at the local L.A. Fitness.  
I mean, seriously… what are the odds?

Sally and the girls in front of an antique shop in Maine, earlier this year.
Going to Maine was definitely the high point of 2013.
2.  My kids.
We have great kids.  Everyone says that, of course, but I think we hold our kids to high standards, and they rarely disappoint.  
Hannah, our eldest, is a tiny little thing, but as God is my witness, she is honestly tougher than shoe leather.  When she fell off her bike this summer, she ripped her arm open and gave herself a little concussion.  She was nevertheless a happy, upbeat little girl less than two hours later, and she never got mad about how hard we’d pushed her that day.  She just answers the bell.  Whether it’s singing in front of a group or standing up to the bullies in her class, I’ve learned that Hannah knows how to confront her fears and master them.  It’s a hard thing to quantify if you’ve never seen her in action, but if you ever do see her, especially in front of a crowd, you’ll know what I mean.  Hannah is the kind of girl who takes control of the crowd and makes them see things her way.
Meanwhile, our younger daughter, Emma… I don’t want this to come out the wrong way, but she is a very smart little girl, to the point where it is honestly amazing.  I don’t know what she’s going to do with her life--and from my own experience, I know better than to put too many expectations on her--but whatever it is, I hope she puts herself in the position to make it amazing.
I worry about Emma because sometimes very smart people can get lazy because they’re used to having things come easy for them.  This is something to guard against with her.  But while I don’t yet know how to make sure that she learns to push herself, I do know that she can do anything that she sets her mind to--and quite a bit that she doesn’t care about, as well.  The trick now is to guide her in the right directions and to give her the room to grow.  But it’s challenging, and I pray that I can do it as she gets older.
3.  I’m thankful that we live in a country where ability matters.
It’s kind of a miracle, really.  I’ll use myself as an example, but I’m hardly the only one.  
My father was a Marine.  I chose to go into the Army because I knew that if I pushed to go into the Marine Corps, there would be people--everywhere--who knew my father and expected me to be just like him.  And I loved my father, but we were not the same person--at all.  Going in with those kinds of expectations was not the plan, and I didn’t follow it.  I stayed with the Army, with my classmates, and went Armor.  Dad was disappointed, but ultimately, it wasn’t his decision.  Oh, by the way, I majored in European History, took an engineering track in Database Design, and basically spent every minute of free time that I had in Crandall Pool.  I’d planned to go to Law School after the Army, but then I actually took a law class while still at the Academy and realized that I’d never survive doing that as a career.  It left me somewhat adrift as far as career plans went, but by then, it was a little late to change tracks completely.
And yet, here I am, working as an Electrical Engineer, ten years into a career that I wouldn’t necessarily call a roaring success but one that certainly hasn’t been a failure, either.  If we were living in Russia or China, I feel pretty good about saying that I’d have been forced to either stay in the Army or go to Law School, and that in either case, I’d have been miserable.  In America, I get the chance to figure out relatively late in life--30, as it happens--that what I really wanted was to be an Engineer when I grew up.  And as long as I can do the work, people keep giving me chances.
4.  My little red foldie.
Yeah, my Dahon foldie isn’t the world’s greatest road bike.  It is, however, a great way to get to work after I get off the train, and let’s face it, riding the subway sucks a high hard one.
Riding eleven miles isn’t some great workout, but if I can put in four or five decent commute rides during the week, that’s forty or fifty miles that I don’t have to ride on the weekend, and it’s a Hell of a lot better than doing nothing on a bunch of the week days.  My regular commute ride is something on the order of a two-mile run--not some great workout, but a decent maintenance day when that’s all you have time for.  In a busy life, sometimes that’s the best I can do.  Certainly, having that ride in my arsenal makes managing my overall fitness quite a lot easier.
5.  I’m thankful for the chance to live in Coastal Connecticut.
I’d moved something like thirty-five times before I turned thirty.  Maybe twenty times with my family and then another fifteen or so when I was in the Army and then while working as a relocating consultant after that.  It was so absurd that when people asked me where I was from, I honestly didn’t know how to answer.
I’m thankful that we’ve not only found a home in Stratford but that it’s a home that’s some two miles from the beach, that I can run along the water on any day that I choose, that doing an open water swim workout is a simple matter of getting in my car, driving five minutes, and then swimming.  I’m thankful that we have a community that I feel apart of, that our kids can grow up a part of, that suits us.  Having not had that as a younger man, it means quite a lot to me.

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