Tougher than the Rest: A Song, a Story, a Wedding

I do not want to get married again.

Yes, that sounds harsh, but before everyone cancels their RSVPs and returns their gift cards, perhaps I should clarify. The statement “I do not want to get married again” is a true statement, with the key word being “again.” That word, those two little syllables, imply Marriage the Reboot, which, simply isn’t the case.

I had accepted, even encouraged, the thinking that I would be alone the rest of my life. I’d become a hollowed out person, unable to allow anyone to come close enough to hurt me, let alone love me. Sure, I’d date, perhaps even attach a label to it, but I wanted that distance, needed it to survive, even though it was killing me.

In almost exactly one week from this moment, I will be huddled in a hallway with the woman who changed all that, and our small gathering of guests will be listening to a song that captures us. It is not a shock to anyone that it will be a Bruce Springsteen song, but what might escape everyone is just how on the dot the lyrics to “Tougher than the Rest” are.
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A touch of magic: “It’s kind of fun to do the impossible”

Many of you, particularly my social media friends, have already seen this story, but I’m sharing it here to reach a wider audience to celebrate the love that has been showered on my friends. To those who are familiar with my friend Kellee, her battle with cancer and her journey to Disney, I ask you to continue spreading this type of joy. To those who are just now discovering this tale, I realize what follows is lengthy, but the payoff is worth it as, at least for me, it has helped reaffirm my faith in humanity.


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For Gabbard: A Briefcase History of Time

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Anthony Gabbard never won our fantasy football league. Never came close, really, despite often being armed with more picks in the first seven rounds than the rest of us had in the full draft. He would methodically fill slots based on need, meaning he always – ALWAYS – ended up taking a kicker not just too early but entirely too early. Like ridiculously early. Like seventh or eighth round early, having already rounded out a roster and ready to go worry about other things, usually poker.

Unlike others in the league, Gabbard didn’t study charts or meticulously pore over fantasy gurus in the days leading up to the draft. He preferred to print out a couple of sheets, then let the numbers be the guide while the team fell into place.

This is not to say, however, that he didn’t come prepared. Continue reading

Charles Farmer was a blessing to many

Charles Farmer liked my dad.

Sure, many people (I think) love Doc Hall, but to like him can be something a bit more challenging. He can be any one (or combination) of the following: loud, goofy, obnoxious, stubborn and in unnamed-2.jpgthe interest of any potential inheritance someday I’m going to stop listing them
(although to be fair, I’m really just naming things about myself since the apple and tree find themselves in close geographic proximity). Continue reading

The Weird Little Kid from Bowen Elementary

This scrawny kid seemed to always be reading, and while I have been a reader for as long as I can possibly remember, his nose always seemed to be in stories far outside my usual realm of comfort. In sixth grade, I still found myself on a stea68348_478560403658_1891280_ndy diet of The Three Investigators, but this guy feasted in a different world, one populated by monsters and demons, killers and ghosts.

Oh, sure, I knew about monsters – I was a huge fan of the classic Universal movies like Frankenstein, The Wolf Man and Creature from the Black Lagoon. His tastes, though, ran a bit bloodier.

So when I saw Aaron Saylor flipping through Fangoria, a magazine devoted to the scariest and, well, goriest, movies and entertainment of that era (the mid-1980s), I instantly knew two things: 1) This was one weird little dude; and 2) we needed to be friends.

Almost 30 years later, both are still true.
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Turning 40

We lined up in a yard too hilly for football but just muddy enough for 11-year-old boys. We only had a basic grasp of the rules – football as an organized sport wouldn’t come to Powell County for another two years – but we knew how to throw and run, and while we didn’t know for certain the proper ins and outs of tackling, we still hit each other as young boys do. Which is to say with a reckless abandon that comes without fear of broken limbs and lost teeth.

Battered and muddy (and no doubt exhausted), we marched back to my house for cake and presents. I’m sure Star Wars was dutifully represented in the gifts, probably He-Man, too, but only one gift clearly stands out: the Wheel of Fortune board game, oddly enough. We might have been months away from official football, but Pat Sajak and Vanna White are forever.

It was my greatest birthday.

Until today.
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New program offers help and hope, not just needles

Bobby stood guard while Jared and I buried Boba Fett in a shallow grave.

I rubbed the dirt off on my shorts as the creek, which had slowed to a trickle from the long summer days, washed away most everything else. The plastic figure was soon forgotten, lost among the afternoons sitting on the rocks, a fishing pole in one hand, a fresh-off-the-tree apple in the other. We were kids, our forevers ahead of us.

I don’t know what happened to those days or even to those boys. Life pulls us in many directions, some into pits from which escape seems impossible. I guess sometimes it is. Impossible, I mean. No matter how hard you try.

Those boys, once so much a part of my life, are now living shadows.

They’re not alone.

The battles of addiction are heavy, and I don’t know anyone who hasn’t been touched from it in some way. Maybe it’s a friend, a dad, a mom, a sister, a brother, a co-worker. It doesn’t matter who – it’s out there, it’s someone and it’s someone who is loved.
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