Wednesday, November 26, 2014

15 Reasons to be Thankful this Thanksgiving

1.  We’ve all got our health.
This was not a given.  I found myself in the hospital in August after a spider bite.  The back of my leg became infected with an antibiotic-resistant form of the streptococcus bacteria, and it took several rounds of antibiotics and four full days as an in-patient to clear it up.  Not fun.  But I’m better now, and I’ve been slowly but surely working my way back into form in anticipation of the coming triathlon season.

Sally and I are both over 40, and we’re both in good shape.  This puts us markedly ahead of where my parents were at our age, and I don’t take that lightly.

2.  My wife is beautiful.
She really is.  She’s a fitness instructor with an hourglass figure.  I’m super-lucky.  You have no idea.

I took this at Sleeping Giant State Park last year.
3.  Sally is also very smart.
My wife put herself through Boston University, joined the Peace Corps, taught in the hinterlands of Paraguay for more than three years, and then came back to do her masters at Columbia University.  She is an interesting, accomplished woman, and I love just sitting down and talking to her.  That’s worth a lot.

4.  Hannah is doing really well in her new school.
Hannah got the lead in the school play last year, but beyond that, she was miserable.  She was in a class with a lot of disruptive kids, and she didn’t feel like she was learning anything.  When she was accepted at the Thurgood Marshall Magnet School in Bridgeport, we jumped at the chance to send her.  She’s doing great now, mostly because the other kids at the school want to be there.

I know a lot of folks hate the Common Core, but Hannah’s doing really well with it.  Her schoolwork has improved a hundredfold since she started at Thurgood Marshall, and I’m super thankful for the opportunities she’s been given.

5.  Life is great.
The last couple of years have seen a small collection of really disappointing professional developments for me.  But everything else is going well—super awesome, fantastic if I’m being honest—and I feel like it’s important to keep an eye on what actually matters.

It’s true.  I didn’t get that promotion that I really, really wanted.

But my boss gave me a raise to keep me from leaving the company.  And we live in a nice house that we can afford.  It’s two miles from the beach.  I have a long commute, and we need to paint the house, but we’re getting there.  This year we replaced the furnace, hot water heater, fridge, and stove.  Meanwhile, I love our town, I love having friends, I love that my kids are engaged in our community.  They’re Girl Scouts, they’re in the plays at school and church, they play sports, take singing lessons and ice skating lessons.  It’s a lot.  I love that after a lifetime of moving every year or so, I’ve finally settled somewhere.  We’re building a life with roots.

When I left the Army, I felt like it was important to find a job that I could do, that wouldn’t make me feel like I was selling my soul.  For all that I get frustrated, it’s still true that my job is morally appropriate, that it serves the public good, that no one ever pressures me to make the numbers look better than they actually are.  That’s quite convenient for them.  It keeps me from feeling scummy.  I’m home every night, I’m actively engaged in my kids’ lives; I’m making a difference in small but very real ways.

That stuff is rare and valuable and good.  Despite the occasional set-back, I am super-thankful for the life I’ve been able to build with my beautiful wife.  Life itself—the stuff that matters—is amazing.  It really is.

6.  Emma is in ALPS, and she’s loving it.
Emma got accepted to her school’s accelerated learning program, and it’s been terrific for her.  Both of our kids have had good opportunities, and they’re both making the most of them.  I’m proud and very, very pleased.

7.  My World War 2 presentation to Hannah’s class went really well.
Hannah’s teacher asked me to guest lecture on World War II a couple of weeks ago.  It was fun.  My first use of my history degree in more than a decade.  The lecture went well, and I expect I’ll go back at some point next year to cover something else.  Many of the kids seemed to get quite a bit out of listening to me talk, and I’m grateful for the opportunity to make an impression.

8.  We’ve gotten back in touch with Sally’s family on her dad’s side.
Besides Sally, I don’t have any family.  I don’t know what to tell you about it; family’s not my best thing.  My folks moved every two years or so when I was growing up, they wound up settling in a part of the country that didn’t agree with me, and now they’re gone.  I’m not from anywhere.  Plus, I’m adopted.  I don’t even have family heritage.  Am I English or Norwegian or German?  Your guess is as good as mine.  Sally and I are trying to make new memories, establish a new family, let me serve as patriarch to a wholly new beginning, but I still find myself becoming jealous of folks who can reach out to family in times of crisis and find support.  I don’t have that, and even when my folks were alive, they weren’t awesome, supportive parents.  They weren’t the kind of folks that you could lean on when you needed someone.  For years now, it’s been me and my wife and my kids, and that’s it.

However, we’ve gotten back in touch with Sally’s cousins from her father’s side of the family this past year, and that’s been terrific.  I may not have any family myself, but my kids have family, and they have roots, and that’s worth quite a lot.  On her father’s side, Sally’s family is filled with terrific people.  I’m happy to have them in our lives.

9.  Sally convinced me to get back in touch with my roots at the Academy.
If I’m from anywhere, it’s West Point.  That’s weird, I know, but what can you do?
Me and Emma at the Fordham game
last weekend.  Army won!
After I left the Army, I made an effort to find a new way, build a new life, and in so doing, I kind of left all things Academy-related behind.  That was a mistake, but it took until last year for Sally to convince me to start re-engaging with the place, to start going to football games, to work at being a better graduate.  This process has been super-rewarding, and it makes me feel grounded.  I’m thankful for Sally’s encouragement and for having made the effort to reach out and reengage.

10.  I enjoy swimming again.
I’m not sure when this changed.  For the longest time, I swam because I liked to run and ride, and my swimming background gave me a competitive advantage during triathlons.  But at some point during the last six months, I actually started enjoying swimming again.

Wow.  How do you explain the joy of rediscovering the thing you were born to do?

11.  I’m back in the weight room.
Sure, it’s only been one week, but it was a good week, and I’m looking forward to getting back to it.  I look better when I lift, and full disclosure: I think Sally likes me better when I’m a little bigger, too.

12.  Comic book movies are a thing.
What geek doesn’t love seeing his favorite comics come to life?  I can’t wait to see the new Avengers movie and whatever else comes after it.  We live in an amazing and wonderful world.

13.  I finished my book ahead of schedule.
I took 2014 off from athletic competition, so I could work on Sneakatara Boatman and the Priest of Loki.  I then finished the draft way ahead of schedule and came back to racing months earlier than I’d planned.  That was super-awesome.

Ouroborous the World Serpent (
I'm planning to use a version of this symbol as the
cover for Sneakatara Boatman and the Priest of Loki.
14.  We got to go to Maine this year.
I love Maine.  We go to a little cabin in the woods, and it’s just great.  I love it out there.

We took this picture at Acadia National Park in 2013.
15. I have friends.
That sounds stupid, right?  But it’s true.  Last year two of my really close friends moved away, including my only nearby classmate.  It made me sad, especially because it harkened back to the parts of my childhood that drove me crazy.  Worse than that, I don’t always feel like I have a lot in common with some of Sally’s friends’ husbands.  Beyond superficial stuff, we just don’t have much to talk about.  However, I’ve got several close friends in my triathlon club, and I’ve met several really cool, really successful guys during the course of the past year, and it’s made all the difference in the world.  I am amazingly grateful to have motivated and successful guys in my life.  These are my friends.


  1. I love this and I am waiting patiently for your bio. Everything in here is said with passion, frustration and honesty - all great content for a bio. i won't give up. i want to read about your life and how just when you want to leave it behind you, the person who loves you the most wants you to remember (Sally). Happy Thanksgiving! Love ya.

    1. Thanks Margie. We've talked about it a bit, and we do actually have a biography project in the hopper. Working title: "Swim, Bike, Run, Live, Love, Repeat".

      I have a working outline, but it feels like it's missing something, which is why I haven't actually done in writing on it.