Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Where did the time go?

The biggest block to my writing these days is time.

Apparently I used to have a lot more of it.

I did steal a few moments to look and, evidently, the time/space continuum hasn't changed ... there are still 365 days in a year ... 7 days in a week ... 24 hours in a day ... 60 minutes in an hour  ... and 60 seconds in a minute.

Somehow they all seem shorter now and I don't like it one damn bit.

It's been said time grows shorter the older you get but I'm not old.

My life is full which is entirely different.

Every second I'm amazed living with this incredible woman who loves and accepts me more than I've ever experienced in my life.

There are also these three little girls who live here and even when they disappear, it makes me uneasy and I start to worry about what they're up to and how I can either prevent it ... or help it.

It's exhausting!

Then there's work ... sigh.

At Compassionate Care Hospice we help manage life's greatest transition ... talk about supply and demand!

People won't stop dying and it's driving me crazy because every time there's a break scheduled or a day off requested ... the Grim Reaper comes a' calling.

The guys a workaholic and I hate those kind of people!

If that wasn't enough, I find myself again ... inexplicably ... in charge of a Church that meets in a Bar.

Hmmm ... let's do the math ... work five days a week ... lead worship on Sunday = 6 days a week.

So with my free time, I work on being the rock star I was destined to become but never achieved.

On Tuesday nights I join Monty Parks Acoustic Jam at Doc's Bar where everyone's a sensitive songwriter bearing their heart and soul ... except me.

It's my job to lighten things up by singing "Dead Skunk in the middle of the road" or "Walk on the Tybee Side" ... my blatant rip off of a Lou Reed original ... and my current fan favorite "Keep the sticky side up" ... (In full disclosure I only have one fan and it's my wife who really does keep the sticky side up!).

Back to the math ... this gobbles up additional hours that I should keep for myself but ... it's fun and I have a good time.

Add sleep to the equation and there's no time left to write.

Where did the time go?

Having said that ... I'm having one Hell of a good time.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

An Exclusive Club

I'm part of a very elite group.

What do I have in common with Paul McCartney ... Rod Stewart ... Robert De Niro ... Larry King ... Steve Martin ... Woody Allen ... Hugh Efner ... Robert Murdock ... and ... Abraham in the Bible?

Each of us had (in my case having) a baby at 60 or above!

"Are you excited?" I'm often asked.

"I am," I answer.

"Really?" they reply.

"Yes," I say growing weary.

"Well, more power to you."

Several years ago, I was in California and had the opportunity to hook up with Eamon Sheehan and his lovely wife Leila. We grabbed bottles of wine and took them to a Turkish restaurant and had a marvelous night ending with a tour of their tiny apartment ... and I have to say all of the planning at NASA can't match how Leila organizes a closet.

When Sarah and I learned we're having a baby, Eamon was one of the first congratulatory messages I received.

"This is great! Don't worry about your age. I wouldn't trade the 18 years I had with my Dad for anything."

Eamon's Dad, Daniel, was my friend.

He was the oldest Dad in the annual Father/Son basketball game at the old St. Michael's School on Tybee Island. and one year ... by the grace of God ... we Dad's eat our sons ... by cheating and talking smack.

Sweat pouring from every orifice, Daniel and I just laugh.

Dan was in past 60 club too!

He and his beautiful Carolyn bore Eamon and had to endure all the same questions I am now.

"Really?"

Yesterday we were at the Alzheimer's Walk and ended up holding and feeding, a six week old girl, who kept stopping sucking the bottle to smile at me.

I laugh in response.

"Hit her harder," Sarah laughs as I burb the child.

The baby smiles at me.

Salt water fills my eyes as I envision Che ... Clare Hope Elliott ... nicknamed after one of my heroes.

I'm ready for Sarah to not be pregnant anymore. It hurts me watching her struggle.

And I'm ready to hold our baby.

I've lived a long time now ... learning how to love ... and through trial and error ... I'm much better at it than I was.

One time, Daniel and I had lunch together and afterwards, sat in his car just talking about life and family ... the messiness of divorces ... the intense love of children ... the good ones and the bad ones.

"We're just learning how to love," he laughs in that crazy southern Irish brogue.

It's taken me a long time to finally understand what he meant. 

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Nothing Like A Good Nap

After feeding 5000 people with not much to work with but, miraculously pulling it off anyway, Jesus needed a break.

So he does what a lot of us want to do all the time ... go to the beach ... get in a boat ... head off shore ... relax.

It's always a good plan.

But he makes the mistake of taking his buddies who are more into fishing, drinking beer and looking at girls in Bikinis on the beach.

Jesus just wants to C.H.I.L.L.

Grabbing a pillow, he heads into the bow and takes a nap.

I'm the first to tell you naps are great and wonderful things.

Sarah's not a napper but I find them glorious and wonderful! The world would be a much better place if everybody took naps every day.

I'm tired as Hell today and am already looking forward to today's nap!

Just as Jesus got into that comfy spot, sleeping good and having great dreams about Mary Magdalene, a storm blows in and his buddies get pissed ... then scared ... so what do they do?

They wake him up!

There's nothing worse from being woken up from a good nap, especially if good dreams are involved ... it pisses you off cause it's hard to reclaim a good sleep.

"HEY!" his buddies yell, "how can you sleep? Don't you care about us? Do something!"

With his hair askew from the pillow, rubbing his eyes, with visions of Mary Magdalene still in his mind, Jesus says, "CUT IT OUT!"

His buddies shut up and the storm blew on pass.

"JESUS CHRIST!" Jesus says, "What are y'all so damn afraid of?"

The Bible doesn't say what happens next but I imagine Jesus went back to sleep not giving a rat's ass about his buddies who apparently felt bad about waking him up.

The lesson is obvious ... if somebody's taking a nap ... leave them alone.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Happily Tropically Depressed

Soft but steady rain sprinkles outside into the Palm Trees, Hibiscus and the Confederate Jasmine that winds down the railing of the Beloved Back Deck.

Listening through the open windows and sliding glass doors, sitting at the kitchen table wearing black running shorts, I'm happily Tropically Depressed.

"Why are the windows open?" Maddie, our brilliant but clueless 15 year old says stumbling up the spiral staircase.

"Because it makes me happy," I smile.

She rolls her eyes, opens the Fridge and spills waffles over the kitchen floor.

I laugh which is the quickest way to piss off a brilliant but clueless 15 year old but she giggles too before pretending like she's upset again.

The rain easies ... birds burst into solos ... the choir of cicada explode into Hymns of Praise ... and the Frogs surrounding the Marsh viciously attack the bass notes.

Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young round out the music reuniting just for Maddie and me online.

She has the funniest ways of making frozen waffles ... put them in the toaster for a minute ... microwave them for 35 seconds ... nuke the syrup as she smothers them in butter ... pour it on top ... and eat far to fast to enjoy the taste.

"No Ketchup?" I ask.

She rolls her eyes at me again.

"Do you think" she begins, sitting at the dining room table, wearing a tee shirt and glasses, hair askew from her pillow ... and she asks me.

About school ... the boyfriend ... her sisters ... lunch ... the weekend ... how soon we can move to a big house in the Caribbean ... will I take her shopping ... can we turn on the air conditioning?

I catch a lot of shit from people because I'm 60 ... already have three children of "my own" ... "took on" three more girls ... and, most outrageously ... Sarah and I are having a baby.

I don't care.

From the moment Jeremy popped out and peed on the Doctor, I've loved being a Dad.

Most people only get to do it once ... as I head into my third round ... praying I don't die before I'm done.

The rain stops.

"We can ride our bikes to lunch," Mad hopefully suggests.

"Yeah," I say, appreciating it all.

Old people don't like mud puddles ... afraid they might fall in ... break something ... go to the Hospital ... never get out.

"Even if it's raining, we can ride our bikes to lunch."

There's no response.

"What's the worst that'll happen? We'll drip in our food?"

I love being young cause I believe ... if I refuse to get old ... I can stay young till I die.

My kids help me do that.

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Remembering

On September 11, 2001 I'm in my office when someone tells me about a plane crashing into the World Trade Center.

I remember getting up and walking back to the dining room where a television hung on the wall for homeless men to watch after dinner and several were watching as I enter the room including Charles, my six-foot-two, African-American, former bank robber, mentally ill, “adopted” son.

I stand and watch the smoldering hole in the building ... then the second plane hits and Charles grabs my arm squeezing it tightly. He's shaking with fear and I tensed in disbelief at the explosion as Charles grabs me ... I almost came out of my skin.

Turning from the television I look at him and he's bent over as though trying to hide behind me ... he shakes and his eyes are full of fear .... his hand grips on my shoulder.

Charles has been with us for a few years at this time and is as stable as he had ever been ... he cleaned the building, eats Oreo cookies like a kid, and mostly talks to himself.

He writes letters to the President meaning I get regular visits from Bill at the F.B.I. though except for when he's talking to himself --- laughing or cussing loudly --- Charles never shows much emotion.

This is the first time that I see him frightened.

“Sir,” he said in his deep voice as I stare in his face and put my arm around him, “do you think that they will come for us?”

I can’t believe how scared he is but who know how his mentally ill mind was taking it in as I glance back at the television in disbelief at what I'm seeing ... not knowing how or why ... I make myself think about him.

“No Charles. We’re just a homeless shelter. No one is coming after us.”

“Why not?” He shoots back as his head's on his knees standing behind me still holding on to my arm and shaking, “You get us government money.”

My head shakes in another kind of disbelief.

How do you answer something like that?

I have no words for him.

So I hug him tight and say I'll take care of him.

Whenever September 11 comes around I can't help but remember this.

Our nation changed that day.

Fundamentalism of any kind is a cruel and evil thing be it Muslim or Christian or any other brand.

Lives were lost because people’s religious and political views are as perverted as Charles’ ability to think rationally.

When all is said and done, it is about how we treat one another at the individual level. What happened between Charles and me that day is as significant as anything else that day.

People hugged one another and cried as we witnessed tragedy beyond comprehension.

So it is right to remember what our country lost ... but it's also right to remember it reminded us how much we need one another ... in the end will be there for each other.

That's what today means.

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Room For More

"You're gonna love her more than you love us."

Her voice cracks as salt water wells in her large blue eyes as it does on the faces of her sisters sitting at the dining room table.

After a dinner of every left over in the Fridge, Laurel, the 12 year old, continues to vocalize feelings Maddie and Cassidy repress.

Sarah's parents are visiting and working hard on getting Che's room ready and doing a fantastic job as it now looks like Clare Hope Elliott has a Nursery.

In addition to their mother's swollen belly, Che's becoming real to the girls ... gobbling up their space with her stuff.

"That's not true!" Sarah says in exasperation.

"It is too," Laurel says now crying.

It's a conversation that been building for days as each girl is asking Sarah things about me ... "Why is he like that?" ... "I don't understand Mike's humor!" ... "He gets mad but, I don't know, he's ... I don't know."

Sitting there nursing a glass of wine, my heart rips in pieces.

This time, it's my voice that cracks as tears stream down my face and I sob as I speak.

"You're gonna make me cry ... I don't understand how you can think that ... God I love you all so ... and I'm happy you're gonna have a sister ... and Jeremy, Kristen and Chelsea are having a sister ... it's room for more love in our house ... in our lives."

And all three girls rise without speaking and lay their heads on me and ... all the words go away.

They know I love them.

I know they love me.

We're all crazy and different and could kill one another half the time ... each of the girls honestly believe they're only children inconvenienced by the presence of others ... in a blended family ... in a greedy world full of distractions and dishonesty.

But this is a honest moment.

Five of us embrace and cry and openly give love in our own ways for a moment.

I'm a lucky man having lived the glories of raising Jeremy, Kristen and Chelsea who I love with everything in me.

And now I get to do it again with stranger girls who I love every bit as much.

And all us share the joy there's room for more.

Ethan, our grandson, opened that door.

Che's knocking it down.

Thursday, September 8, 2016

On The Shoulders of Giants

It's always funny, and disconcerting, when you realize you never existed.

Your name's been blotted from the Book of Life.

Things you know you did are forgotten.

People you knew no longer know you.

Happened to me yesterday ... again.

Sitting in a conference with others, I listened as a bright young face delivered the history of world as she knows ... which is far different from the history I helped make.

One of the things I've learned about surviving this long is people have short memories ... choosing to not remember who, or what, got them here ... preferring to believe they've done it themselves and nothing could have possibly happened before they burst on the scene.

I try to remember.

I've stood on the shoulder of giants and can name them all.

There's also been some who stood on my shoulders and can't seem to remember a damn thing.

It gives me perspective.

"What is man that thou aren't mindful of him?" is an old and sexist way to put it.

"For everything there is a season ... and time ... and purpose under Heaven," is another way of coming to terms with who I am ... what I've done ... and I'm doing now.

"Well, I guess you had to be there," is what I sat there thinking as the bright young face who's never stood on the shoulder of a giant because she's too busy believing she'd doing it for the first time.

"I guess you had to be there ... it was a Hell of a ride."

As she rambles on about nothing new, my mind turnes to my favorite quote of Bob Dylan.

When asked if he could write "Blowing in the Wind" or something like it again ... he shrugs his shoulder and answers ... "I did it once. I'll do something else now."

In time people are going to forget Bob Dylan ... like Brian Wilson ... Kohelet who wrote Ecclesiastes ... the nameless man who asked God a question that's endured until now.

It's okay to be forgotten ... as long as you're doing something else now.

Monday, September 5, 2016

Summer's End

"The Swinging Medallions are playing the Pier at 7!"

I text Sarah just as Bar Church begins, "your folks are going to love it!"

Regardless of the fact none of the Swinging Medallions perform anymore doesn't matter as their sons, grandsons and others keep the Beach Band going strong.

It's the way I feel about summer ... I don't want it to end in spite of the reality cold weather's looming.

Before I die though I'm going where summer never ends.

The Pier's packed with people having a good time, the music's great, locals and tourists mingle as one, drinks flow from the Rip Tide and we dance, talk and people watch.

Joey Spaulding meanders over, kisses Sarah square on her swollen belly and says, "I hope it's not a girl."

"Her name's Che," I reply.

"OH! That's wonderful!" he laughs wandering away.

The fireworks begin and it really is a magical show as families watch in the sand, couples sneak into the sand dunes to make love, and kids dash to the Ocean to swim under exploding stars.

Cops are everywhere but, for once, all seem to be on good behavior.

Sarah leans over the railing enjoying of the painting of the sky and a tourist in a cowboy hat crowds behind her to see too.

Sliding my hand past Cassidy, our 9 year old, between my wife and the tourist ... Cass's eyes grow big as moons and she mouths, "No Micheal" ... while giggling.

Grabbing Sarah's ass, her head jerks back with fire blazing from the baby blues at the innocent tourist in the cowboy hat.

Cass and I burst into laughter, the tourist jumps backwards, Sarah fist unclenches and everyone "oohs and ahs" at the colors dancing at night.

As soon as its over, the Medallions double shoot baby's love and we make our way through the cluster fuck that is parking on Tybee.

It's easy for us because it's a five block drive (Sarah's Dad couldn't make the walk) but I roll the window down and have a good time talking to people making their way to wherever.

"Can we open the windows?" I ask sitting with Sarah and her parents at the table after the girls have all settled elsewhere.

"Listen" she flares as if ready to punch a tourist in a Cowboy hat, "I'm twenty degrees hotter than you are with our baby ... maybe after Che's born."

"Damn," I mutter and Sarah's folks pretend they didn't hear me.

I feel pretty good though how much they're going to have me in their prayers before they go to sleep.

It's nice when people pray for you.

But ... I hate summer ending.

I don't want to see the Marsh change colors, the Ocean get cold, Manatees search for warmer waters, shrimp season end, people regularly wearing shoes ... Presidential elections.

Thank God I don't have to think about any of that for a few more months.

September through November are excellent weather wise and I'm already looking forward to Che's black running shorts ... no shirt or shoes as we glide into Thanksgiving.

Sunday, September 4, 2016

An Open Letter

Dear Sarah,

Let me get the unpleasantly out of the way first ... yeah, I go nuts over Georgia football, cuss out loud during games, drink too much and take up all the space in bed leaving you to kick and punch in your fight for sleep ... but you never leave my side.

Oh my God ... I'm just humbled by your love.

And you laugh when you lecture me, waking you up again as I stumble in from the Breakfast Club ... "Two hours! You kept me up two hours last night! This is after you fell asleep on the couch with your Shazam hanging out in front my parents ... Laurel took a picture and wanted to post in on Facebook but I wouldn't let her."

Sharing this laying in bed, dying for sleep, you make a fist as though you're going to punch me but ... all I feel is love.

Then you laugh as you roll over to reclaim sleep and my heart is completely yours.

I lavish you with love in my ways ...making sure your juice is poured and coffee made in the mornings ... cooking and cleaning so you don't have to ... lugging shit around you want lugged ... eventually helping you with whatever project is of utmost importance at the moment  ... being parental advisor to the girls while secretly loving them fiercely ... lusting after you as you stumble to the bathroom to pee.

You lavish me too with ... ear plugs because my ears keep getting infected when I swim ... keeping me stocked in cosmetics for my outdoor shower ... boiled peanuts ... wine ... black running shorts ... University of Georgia tee shits.

Honestly, I have no idea what I would do without you.

My favorite saying of yours is ... "You have no idea."

It goes back to when we talked after a decade without and I mumbled something about you and me reconnecting and you said ... "You have no idea."

I still don't most of the time.

But I do know how much I love you.

And I know how much you love me.

And it's everyone else who has no idea.

ME

Saturday, September 3, 2016

Highest Holy Day

I'm sitting here pondering Che's first Tailgate experience.

Dressed as a UGA Cheerleader or maybe a linebacker, she'll be laughing and having a good time swinging in a portable swing hanging from the red and black pop up tent beside her nephew Ethan ... who will also be dressed as Quarterback or a UGA cheerleader.

Ethan's ready.

Che's not born yet.

You can't start planning too early.

College football season hangs in the air with the salt from the Ocean circling on the horizon as Pelicans dive for fish and Dolphins slice through the water.

It's a magical time of year as summer remains and football begins.

God I love it.

And have celebrated it my entire life ... cause I was raised right.

Sarah struggles to understand and I love her more for trying so hard.

When I was little, my Dad would pile David and I in the car before the sun rose on Saturday mornings to drive to Athens where we bought scalp tickets and watched the University of Georgia play football.

It was pure magic ... being with Dad, meeting friends, tailgating, fried chicken, listening to Munson, looking at the Co-eds all under a clear blue sky in the Classic City.

Disney World can't replicate such magic.

When my kids were born, first Dad and I ... then just me ... passed the magic on and now, Jeremy's passing it on too.

I still try and Maddie, our clueless 14 year old who knows everything, is my game mate and I watch catch the magic.

Try as I may I can't explain it all to Sarah.

There is so much tradition ... so many memories, glorious wins and crushing defeats, family and friends ... it flows through my veins ... is part of my DNA ... so much more than a football team ... or a game.

It pleases me immensely our girls wear red and black ... by choice ... stop to watch as I'm watching ... high five me and give me a hug when we score ... understand Saturdays are special in the fall.

Now Ethan's here.

Che's coming soon.

It makes me so damn excited to pass on something so special that was passed on to me ... a gift I cherish, relish and enjoy!

The older I get, the more I count my blessings ... the more I want to share them with my kids and grandkids ... friends ... and Sarah most of all.

Because every Saturday morning in the fall ... I'm a little boy again ... as David and I jump in the car with Dad for a magic ride ... and do magic things ... in a magic place.

Ethan's already looking good as his folks have him ready for the highest of High Holy Days.

He's kicking off the season for our family.

Sarah and I will have Che to join him when the Beloved Dawgs of Georgia finish!

Thank you Dad.

You'd love what's going on now.

Friday, September 2, 2016

Life doesn't get any better than this

Pushing 80 years old, the old girl still sits in my lap at night.

After dinner, Sarah sits on the sofa and I sit on the floor as we talk, watch television or react to whatever the girls latest traumas are ... which they all deliver at the same time because each believe they're only children living in a home with other people ... making it more traumatic for Sarah and I.

Ignoring them, Goddess meanders over looking old, worn and thin.

"Hey Pup," I say though she is far removed from the tiny sad eyed Puppy rescued more than a decade ago.

The fluffy little face is now a greyish white, her dirty blond coat covers a bag of bones and she'd probably already be dead if Sarah didn't lavish her with the same loving concern she gives the girls.

Sarah gives Goddess a healthy diet of crazy expensive dog food and, while Goddess looks old, she acts like a teenager ... trying to steal food if it's left within striking distance, begging when it's not and longing for affection by slamming her butt into our faces ... just like the girls.

Rubbing Che in her belly, Sarah chides Goddess for jumping up as she opens a snack of Apple Sauce.

Grabbing the bag of bones, I pull Goddess back in my lap where she's loved to sit ever since she was a Puppy.

Golden Retriever mixes live until about the age Goddess is now.

Every day she's still here is a gift.

She and I have been through a lot of heaviness together before hitting the best times of life.

"Please God," I whisper as I rub her rib cage, "let her live to meet Che."

Goddess crawls out of my lap to lay beside me and under Sarah's feet hanging off the couch.

I am so thankful.

Life doesn't get any better than this.

Life doesn't get any better than this

Pushing 80 years old, the old girl still sits in my lap at night.

After dinner, Sarah sits on the sofa and I sit on the floor as we talk, watch television or react to whatever the girls latest traumas are ... which they all deliver at the same time because each believe they're only children living in a home with other people ... making it more traumatic for Sarah and I.

Ignoring them, Goddess meanders over looking old, worn and thin.

"Hey Pup," I say though she is far removed from the tiny sad eyed Puppy rescued more than a decade ago.

The fluffy little face is now a greyish white, her dirty blond coat covers a bag of bones and she'd probably already be dead if Sarah didn't lavish her with the same loving concern she gives the girls.

Sarah gives Goddess a healthy diet of crazy expensive dog food and, while Goddess looks old, she acts like a teenager ... trying to steal food if it's left within striking distance, begging when it's not and longing for affection by slamming her butt into our faces ... just like the girls.

Rubbing Che in her belly, Sarah chides Goddess for jumping up as she opens a snack of Apple Sauce.

Grabbing the bag of bones, I pull Goddess back in my lap where she's loved to sit ever since she was a Puppy. 

Golden Retriever mixes live until about the age Goddess is now.

Every day she' still here is a gift.

She and I have been through a lot of heaviness together before hitting the best times of life.

"Please God," I whisper as I rub her rib cage, "let her live to meet Che."

Goddess crawls out of my lap to lay beside me and under Sarah's feet hanging off the couch.

I am so thankful.

Life doesn't get any better than this.

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Where I am

Some days you wake up and wonder how did I get here?

It's different from waking asking, "Where am I?" ... "Who am I with?" ... or "What have I done?"

Rooted more in a deep, sincere appreciation, I find myself marveling at where I'm at ... who I'm with ... and all the things I've done, both good and bad ... that somehow leaves me here.

What did I do to deserve this?

The mere fact that I'm alive is staggering enough given the number of times I've almost died in car crashes, doing stupid dangerous things because I believed I'm invincible or, by the grace of God, barely missing what could have done me in.

My record of romance looks like a minefield ... tiny exploded pieces of heart lay everywhere in the past yet here I live with the woman I love more than anything ... who loves me back more ... having the excited mystique of a lifetime!

My kids, the proudest accomplishment in life all left to get on with their own lives ... leaving me in an empty nest that's now quite full of happiness and little girls ... and just last night the most selfish of the bunch threw her arms around me, kissed my cheek whispering "Thank you" and my heart's still bursting today.

We live on an island where I always knew I'd live and can't imagine living anywhere else except another clump of sand ... Ocean, Salt Water, hot weather, the ebbs and flows of ever changing sand and lush Tropical landscapes has always been the setting of my living.

In spite of lying politicians, corporate greed and selfish leaders, my work is incredibly satisfying, leaving me knowing I'm not done yet and still making a difference in this world.

God's still using me in spite of myself as I remain a Minister-at-large and the one mostly in charge of a worship service in a Bar reeking of stale beer, cigarette smoke and Holiness every single Sunday.

I have a few good friends who will come to the ends of the earth for me ... even when I don't want them to ... but they love me anyway and we share richness beyond measure ... and stories that make us laugh ... and they're mostly true.

Little things delight me ... Goddess laying under my feet when I write ... playing at the Monty Park's Jam with the gang on Tuesday nights at Doc's ... a grandson leaves me in wonderment every time I see his picture ... the aroma of the Marsh ... the flower blooming beside my desk ... the smell of fish frying.

I have no idea how I got here.

No idea why.

I'm just thankful as Hell ... with tears ... that this is where I am.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

For the Love of an Island

My neighbor comes out every morning and gardens.

He's shirtless, wears grey shorts and is barefoot as he tenderly waters a massive Camellia, taking his time to admire and appreciate it stretching towards the sun.

I like watching him.

Paying no attention to me, sitting on the Beloved Back Deck, wearing less than he is, listening to "The Doors" with my fingers dancing across the keyboard writing, he remains exclusively focused on the Camellia.

The sky is a pale blue without a cloud as the rising sun blazes through the branches of the Palm Trees and the Ocean breeze is brisker than it's been in months creating a false illusion of a coming Fall.

Reaching up, he cups a white Camellia in both hands, pulling it down to his face and breathes in deeply.

"People are strange," Jim Morrison reminds me, but I'm utterly captivated by his childlike wonderment finding it completely beguiling.

A choir of Cicada burst into Hymns of Praise.

The sound of the Ocean sloppily kissing the shore hangs in the air.

Tybee Island is a crazy place full of the distractions of Government, paramilitary Police, an overabundance of Stop Signs, more rules and regulations than are in the Old Testament and completely overrun with tourists desperate for what residents have.

But in moments like this, when the Bullshit of living here isn't a constant distraction, you get to what this Island really is.

A massive green Lemon drops from the tree in the yard separating his house from mine and, hearing it, he un-cups the Camellia and sees me watching him.

He waves and smiles before holding his naked arms towards the Heavens as if to say "Thank you."

It makes me laugh.

So I raise my hands towards Heaven in response and it makes him laugh.

This is the island at it's best.

Apart from the Bullshit we're constantly hurling at it, Tybee Island somehow remains as beautiful as when God made it.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Church and State

"Listen ... God's in need and asked me to tell you to fix a parking ticket."

Clearly understanding the Devil's in the details waiting on Bar Church to begin, our musical guest is a poor musician from Texas who is aghast it costs .25/15 minutes to breath without moving on Tybee Island.

Keith Rea's here for God and the Lord wants to make sure he's taken care of so I text Monty Parks, full time Politician and Musician ... an oxymoron ... but I've learned to accept such things on this clump of sand.

"You want $10 from me to feed the meter? Easier on me that way," he writes back.

Just like a politician to take the easy way out!

"Does it seriously cost that much to breath on this island?" Keith asks.

"No, my friend. You can stop anytime you want! That's why there's so many Stop Signs on Tybee. It's an attempt to reduce the number of day visitors by reminding them not to breath as they aimlessly make their way looking for parking."

"Oh," he says tuning his guitar.

"This is what it's come down to," Monty text, "fixing tickets for God?"

The Baptists, Catholics and Methodists all have parking lots on Tybee so parking tickets are not an issue for them.

The Episcopalians park on City right-of-way so it's not an issue.

At Bar Church, there is no parking except by meters and most of our folks ain't got a quarter having spent it sometime the previous night ... or early this morning.

"I'm going running ... or trundling as it may be," Monty writes but I don't read it till later because the service begins.

I don't know if anybody got saved but the food was good, the coffee hot, the music was great and Jimmy Cochran delivered the Gospel "According to Pinocchio".

It was great!

Afterwards, lugging the sound system and guitars to the cars, I spy that Keith wasn't ticketed.

Immediately, I text Monty.

"God doesn't need you after all! Apparently got another City Council member to fix things."

Thanking Keith for coming, we embrace in the street as thousands of cars aimlessly drive around looking for a place to park.

My phone buzzes and it's from Monty ... "??"

I don't respond ... perhaps leaving him hanging in the air ... full of questions.

But Bar Church is over and I've punched out.

I'm off the clock and ready to go skinny dipping with Sarah.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Tybee Island's Latest Religious Controversy

I know what happened with Tybee Island's latest religious controversy.

There's a book Preacher's buy called "Silent Words Spoken Loudly" which is filled with cute sayings to put on their Church sign.

 They pray people driving passed will think, "This is a cool Church which we must alter all of our plans to attend because it says ... 'THIS CHURCH IS PRAYER CONDITIONED.'"

There's another titled "The Little Book of Church Signs" which great theological funniness like "Tasting forbidden fruit creates many jams."

There's no scientific knowledge to prove cute sayings on Church signs even get people to slow down ... much less attend.

The reason these books exists is because Preachers can't think of anything to put on their Church Signs week in and week out ... they're too ... busy ... not thinking for themselves.

THAT'S NOT TO SAY they're not thinking Preachers because some of my best friends are thoughtful Clergy and I read everything they write because ... they can write.

Unlike Preachers who buy little books with cute sayings like "Under the same management for 2000+ years" ... the Pastor's 24.

I'm sure this is the root of Tybee Island latest religious controversy where the Baptist Sign reads, "The Last Time Things Were This Messed Up, I Sent a Flood ... God."

It could be construed the Baptists do not like people in Louisiana ... currently being flooded ... with numerous people drowning.

I'm pretty certain it's little more than the next page in "The Great American Book of Church Signs" filled with wonderful encouraging words like ... "FREE TRIP TO HEAVEN! Details Inside."

The Baptist Preacher merely turned to the next page in the book and changed the sign.

Islanders however are in an uproar ... having just paid the Flood Insurance Bill ... which the Government increased again this year ... because poor North Carolina can no longer pay it's own way ... so the entire East Coast was asked to help ... at gunpoint.

I'm pretty sure the Baptist have no idea whatsoever they are the scorn of a religious controversy ... again.

I think everybody should just calm down.

Next week, the Baptist Preacher will flip the page in the little book he bought, and the sign will read, "Experts Made The Titanic! Armatures Made the Ark!"

Passerby's will probably not even notice rushing to get in line at The Breakfast Club.

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Island at Night

Topping the Thunderbolt Bridge on a warm summer's night with the window's down, the first thing you notice is the full moon hanging in a black sky amidst purple clouds of majesty.

There are no stars.

Just the Lady in the Moon, draped in purple clouds standing in front of infinity.

The aroma in the sticky salt air is the pungent smell of sex in the tropics emanating from the Marshes.

Bringing my gaze down, I see the stars on the water ... lights from houses, boats and docks punctuating where the Low Country ends and Heaven begins.

"It's a perfect night to open the windows," I say to my wife who's driving.

"HA!" she laughs, patting my hand resting on her swelled belly, "No way!"

I sigh and resume looking at the wonder of islands at night.

"I need a hair tie," Sarah says, driving with one hand and holding her long, lush hair with the other.

"I don't have one," Maddie says, typing away into the glow of her phone.

I roll my window up, though Sarah keeps the sun roof open and her window cracked.

This is my favorite time of year.

The Marsh is at it's zenith with beautiful colors of green and gold ... summer reigns supreme ... the Rivers are flat and the water's warm ... Ocean breezes kiss rather than blow.

"You can roll the window down," Sarah smiles as we slow down rolling on to Tybee where cops hide in wait.

Immediately I do and ... it's Heaven on earth.

The stars sleeping on Bull River are breathtaking ... on that crazy unplanned island of congestion, construction, gated communities and fast food.

To the left, the stars on Hilton Head are equally stunning ... in the land of a planned development of Golf courses, toll roads, bike paths and resorts ... with only a hint remaining of the simple beauty if used to be when little was there.

Rolling on to the clump of sand we call home, it's a place much like it's always been ... aside from the explosion of Government, Police officers, regulations and permits.

If you live here ... you know where to slow down and to speed up ... when to take your dogs on the Beach ... take beer in a cold bottle to watch them frolic ... park for free ... make love in the sand dunes.

Tybee people with a heart agonize at the thousands who come here and to pay for these simple pleasures with tremendous fines, arrests, court appearances and the countless circling of the streets searching to park a car for $.25/15 minutes.

Islanders without a heart could care less.

As far as they're concerned it's all there's anyway.

Turning on Jones Avenue to make a complete stop at the sign where they cops lay in wait.

Stealing once last glance at the wonderment of an island at night, I rub my baby growing in my wife's belly, suck in the smell of the marsh, blow a kiss to the Lady in the Moon, thank God for this life already wishing Sarah would let me open the windows tonight.

Island at Night

Topping the Thunderbolt Bridge on a warm summer's night with the window's down, the first thing you notice is the full moon hanging in a black sky amidst purple clouds of majesty.

There are no stars.

Just the Lady in the Moon, draped in purple clouds standing in front of infinity.

The aroma in the sticky salt air is the pungent smell of sex in the tropics emanating from the Marshes.

Bringing my gaze down, I see the stars on the water ... lights from houses, boats and docks punctuating where the Low Country ends and Heaven begins.

"It's a perfect night to open the windows," I say to my wife who's driving.

"HA!" she laughs, patting my hand resting on her swelled belly, "No way!"

I sigh and resume looking at the wonder of islands at night.

"I need a hair tie," Sarah says, driving with one hand and holding her long, lush hair with the other.

"I don't have one," Maddie says, typing away into the glow of her phone.

I roll my window up, though Sarah keeps the sun roof open and her window cracked.

This is my favorite time of year.

The Marsh is at it's zenith with beautiful colors of green and gold ... summer reigns supreme ... the Rivers are flat and the water's warm ... Ocean breezes kiss rather than blow.

"You can roll the window down," Sarah smiles as we slow down rolling on to Tybee where cops hide in wait.

Immediately I do and ... it's Heaven on earth.

The stars sleeping on Bull River are breathtaking ... on that crazy unplanned island of congestion, construction, gated communities and fast food.

To the left, the stars on Hilton Head are equally stunning ... in the land of planned development of Golf courses, toll roads, bike paths and resorts ... with only a hint remaining of the simple beauty if used to be when little was there.

Rolling on to the clump of sand we call home, it's a place much like it's always been ... aside from the explosion of Government, Police officers, regulations and permits.

If you live here ... you know where to slow down and to speed up ... when to take your dogs on the Beach ... take beer in a cold bottle to the Beach ... park for free ... make love in the sand dunes.

Tybee people with a heart agonize at the thousands who come here and to pay for these simple pleasures with tremendous fines, arrests, court appearances and the countless circling of the streets searching to part a car for $.25/15 minutes.

Islanders without a heart could care less.

As far as they're concerned it's all there's anyway.

Turning on Jones Avenue to make a complete stop at the sign where they cops lay in wait.

Stealing once last glance at the wonderment of an island at night, I rub my baby growing in my wife's belly, suck in the smell of the marsh, blow a kiss to the Lady in the Moon, thank God for this life already wishing Sarah would let me open the windows tonight.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

The Jam

"I teach English," she explains throwing her hair over a shoulder and taking her glasses off to emphasize what she's saying, "but I'm really a singer/song writer."

Having already performed a couple of her originals, no one cares she teaches English.

What's that got to do with anything?

Looking around the room, everyone here does something else we don't care about either.

There's a politician, a cleaner of Beach Vacation rentals, a psychotherapist, a Hospice Nurse, an electrician, a guy who used to drop bombs from planes and ... a few who provide no clue whatsoever they do anything else.

It doesn't matter.

On Tuesday nights at Doc's Bar "Monty Parks Tuesday Night Acoustic Jam" occurs, which almost sounds like "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band" ... but it's not.

At the Jam, for an hour or so anyway, everyone becomes who they truly are ... musicians ... singers ... songwriters ... lead guitarists ... conga players ... blues harps ... beautiful souls.

Making it magical is the Jam is "a little like religion and a lot like sex" (to steal a line from another singer/songwriter).

We are a faithful lot who attend the Jam and we notice if someone's gone too long having grown to genuinely care about the permanent fixtures, seasonal members and occasional visitors.

That's the religion part.

The sex part is we really get each other off at the Jam ... encouraging and pushing each other to be that musician and singer/songwriter they really are but buried under the other things they do.

Some nights it's just orgasmic.

Thomas sings "Blue Lights" leaving the room hushed ... Chip tells tourists to get the "fu#k out the way" and we explode in laughter ... Lona brings happiness to the saddest of songs ... Cousin Itt sings about us drawing us together even closer ... Monty sings about his dog and eyes grow moist.

Slo' Bass shoots rhythmic jokes slapping a steady beat in a crazy dance with Conga Dave and the precisionist.

It gets pretty hot in the back room at Doc's.

In the Bar they drink and watch "Wheel of Fortune," shoot Bumper Pool or work on getting laid pretending be someone else.

But in the Back Room, during the Jam, there's a weekly gathering of people being who God created them to be, which is not necessarily who we are.

And it happens with the sweetest encouragement and support.

Nobody cares if you screw up because, we've screwed up trying to become who we really are, and we're gonna do this together.

Sometimes, not all the time, the sounds are so incredibly holy coming out of the back room that the Bar grows as quiet as a Church on Monday morning.

That’s what happens when you finally get to become who you really are anyway and stop pretending you’re someone else.

Sunday, August 14, 2016

What In God's Name has happened to us?

"Micheal Elliott," she writes calling me out, "why do you write this stuff? ...  what has happened in your life to hate the police so badly?"

I don't hate the police.

Privately I write and tell her so, explaining I pray for them and for her too for caring about them so much.

I pray they don't get killed or kill anyone either doing their jobs.

Death comes soon enough and certainly doesn't need our assistance.

I do poke fun at Government ... and the police is part of that ... because politics has become a sanctimonious corruption that treats itself as Holiness in action.

Politics has made us a nation of "US" and "THEMS" ... the good and the bad ... the enlightened and the ignorant ... the rich and the poor ... the living and the dying.

Politics is the largest employer ... producing "Prisons" as its biggest commodity closely followed by Government buildings ... creating rule after rule to take care of us because obviously we're incapable of taking care of ourselves and ... in a brilliant twist of manipulation ... taking care of their own above all else.

On Tybee Island where I live, if the cops pull over a City Councilperson, the outcome is largely different than a Mom rushing her three children to school and slowly rolling through a Stop Sign.

It's now politically incorrect to poke fun at the Government ... the Police ... Firefighters ... Parking Services ... and the Department of Public Works that blocks off two miles of traffic to water plants.

What in God's name has happened to us?

I refuse to become a pawn in Government ideology and the doctrine of political correctness.

So I poke fun at people and institutions who take themselves WAY ... TOO ... SERIOUSLY.

And people get mad!

It's alright ... I've survived lots of anger in my life.

But ... there's something more going on here.

"My soul magnifies the Lord," a knocked up teenager with an illegitimate baby in her belly once said, "and my Spirit rejoices in God my Savior for he has looked down on my humble state."

"He shows strength through his arm," she sings, "and scatters the proud in the thoughts of their hearts."

Not the thoughts in their heads.

The thoughts in their hearts.

Sometimes, the only way to get people to think, is to poke fun when they're thinking without using the tools God gave them to use.