And we’re back!! If you haven’t perused Part 1 please take a moment to do so. You won’t regret it.
I’ve been using the words grateful/gratitude & thankful/thankfulness interchangeably and will continue to do so. However, it occurred to me that there might be a slight difference officially, and this is what I found. Thankfulness is feeling pleased & relieved, while gratefulness is showing appreciation for something done or received. Being thankful is more about expressing afeeling, whereasgratitude is action in responsetosomething or someone that you appreciate. Thankfulness involves how we feel in the moment. It is a temporary emotional response to a temporary circumstance. Conversely, gratitude is an attitude under any circumstance, appreciating daily life even when nothing exciting happens. I get it. I don’t disagree with any of that. However, I will continue to utilize both terms as synonyms, and I’m pretty sure The Manoverse is sharp enough to keep up.
6 What in nature are you grateful for??
I think I’ve mentioned that I’m not at all outdoorsy (for legit reasons), and neither am I really into “saving the environment” (whatever that means). Having said that, I do have a healthy respect for God’s amazing creation. Many years ago I self-diagnosed myself with Seasonal Affective Disorder. I do not like grey, cloudy, rainy, depressing days, and I’m not a fan of snowy, cold, icy conditions. Television & movies romanticize snow, but I find it rather inconvenient. I guess what I’m saying is that I really appreciate sunshine. I simply feel more energetic & focused…more alive…on beautiful, sunny days. I always say that any day that I can wear my sunglasses is a good day,
7 What memory are you grateful for??
That’s really difficult to narrow down. I hope that most of us have a plethora of great memories. However, I’ll give the spotlight to two. First, I’ve talked a few times about the lovely Thanksgivings & Christmases of my youth. Sadly, with my mother & all the grandparents gone those occasions are forever in the mist of bygone days, and since I don’t have any kids it’s impossible to create new memories that measure up. At the other end of the heartwarming nostalgia spectrum are my days as a drunken frat boy. That is probably the favorite era of my life, although I have no desire to relive those crazy times. I am so grateful for my childhood, my family, and my college friends & good times. It’s all been downhill from there.
8 What book are you most grateful for??
I’ve ranked everything from movies to TV characters to cartoons in this space, but I’ve never done any such thing with books. Why?? Well, I don’t believe it’s feasible to compare & contrast books, and I definitely can’t choose just one as my favorite. That being said, in the spirit of the task at hand, I’ll give a shout out to Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and his Sherlock Holmes stories. I cannot remember exactly when & how I stumbled upon Holmes, although I think it may have been junior high. Thru the years I have reread those tales many times, and it is always like the literary version of comfort food. I don’t know how many youngsters are discovering Holmes these days, but I encourage anyone who has never had the pleasure to give him a whirl. It’s a decision you won’t regret.
9 What place are you most grateful for??
This one is easy: The Robinson Grand Performing Arts Center. When I was a little boy the Robinson Grand was the local movie theater. I don’t have any specific memories of seeing anything there, although I know I did. Then malls became a thing, and when our local mall opened (complete with a shiny new cineplex) downtown died & the theater faded into oblivion. Flash ahead to 2018, and The Grand was renovated & reopened as a performing arts center. I happen to live about a mile away, so it is really convenient to drive down the street for a show. I live in a small, economically challenged town, and the theater holds about a thousand people, so the latest greatest rock band or that hot new country star isn’t walking thru the door, which is fine. I’ve seen several tribute bands, a handful of acts whose heyday was quite awhile ago, a couple of very well done local theater productions, and alot of other things at RGPAC. It’s always a nice way to spend the evening, and the staff has been first class from Day 1. I’m reminded of The Eagles 1979 song The Sad Cafe that says “oh it seemed like a holy place protected by amazing grace, and we would sing right out loud the things we could not say”, although I don’t want to give anyone the idea that there is anything sad about The Grand. To the contrary…it is my happy place.
10 What taste are you grateful for today??
Forgive me if I take these questions far too seriously. I suppose a simple, trite answer would suffice, but that’s not how I roll. In November 2015 I had a medical issue. I’ll spare you the details, but there are about three days of my life that I don’t remember at all. When I woke up in the hospital the plan was to perform surgery within 24 hours, so I wasn’t permitted to eat or drink, and I was so thirsty. I was given a tiny wet sponge, just enough to moisten my lips & tongue. If you’ve read your Bible you may recall in the book of John, as Jesus is hanging on the cross, He says “I thirst”. It goes on to say that “there was set a vessel full of vinegar…they filled a sponge with vinegar, put it upon hyssop, and put it to his mouth”. Don’t misunderstand…I am not comparing myself to Jesus, and I wasn’t given vinegar, but in that moment I thought of that scripture & truly understood thirst for probably the first time in my life. I don’t drink enough water even now, but that’s not the point. There are a ton of delicious food & beverage choices out there, but when you’ve experienced real thirst you deeply appreciate anything that will quench it.
Okay, let’s pause once again. Don’t worry…we’ll continue soon.
Christmas isn’t what it used to be for Sammy Claus. There are lots of reasons for that, and I will spare The Manoverse the mundane details. Suffice to say that I long for the days when our extended family gathered on Christmas Eve to consume copious amounts of seafood and simply relish the joy of fellowship. I miss the cheerful anticipation of being with the nuclear family on Christmas Day when we were happier, healthier, & more sanguine. The absences of my mother & my grandparents are keenly felt years after their departure from this mortal coil. My nephews are grown up and I missed out on having children of my own, so we await a new generation of youngsters thru which we may renew our holiday merriment. If I sound downtrodden it is because I’m keeping it real. Thru the years I have occasionally laid bare my soul in this space. I have been transparent about who I am & what I’m about, good or bad. Having said all of that, it cannot be denied that this holiday season has been a significant improvement over last year. While legit concerns remain…because that’s just life…there is ample evidence for hope & tranquility. It is with that sense of optimism that we once again present the annual Wish List. As always, being Sammy Claus wields no special power. I will not be flying around the world in a sleigh pulled by reindeer on Christmas Eve. My fervent hope is that a certain inhabitant of The North Pole reads The Manofesto on occasion and might see fit to bestow these gifts upon the entities named here. And of course my biggest wish is that everyone will step away from the presents & the food & the movies to praise The One True Reason for The Season.
a 50% decrease
The Pittsburgh Steelers
A young, athletic, rocket armed, mobile QB, revamped offensive line, and new offensive & defensive coordinators. Is that too much??
The NCAA’s Transfer Portal
Parameters. It’s not a terrible concept, but it is a little out of control.
Utter & complete professional failure and the newly learned skill of knowing when to shut your ignorant piehole.
a swift kick in the ass
Mike Krzyzewski (aka Coach K)
A very happy retirement…you’ve been amongst the best.
one last hurrah
The Southern Border of the U.S.
A freakin’ wall for God’s sake!! There is a right way & a wrong way for “tired, poor, huddled masses” to breathe free in America. My great grandparents emigrated here from Italy and I’m grateful, but I don’t think it’s too much to ask that a process be followed and laws respected.
Just as many entertaining shows in the future as we’ve enjoyed the past few years.
My Friends Who Are Leaving RGPAC
Much success & happiness in your future endeavors. You WILL be missed & you better stay in touch!!
That One Dude On City Council
Defeat in the next election & much misery in your pathetic little life…you’re a total prick.
“Vaccine” Mandates & Passports
Annihilation. This is is America. Get the jab or not, whatever makes you happy & makes you feel safe, but no one should lose their livelihood or be denied access to venues over a “vaccine” that doesn’t even prevent the disease it was created to eradicate and has actually caused illness & death to otherwise healthy people who thought they were doing the right thing.
A Mrs. Claus, or atleast a lovely lady to laugh with, go out to dinner occasionally, see a show or watch a movie, and most of all someone with whom I can have engaging, enlightening, intelligent conversations and who’ll challenge me to be a better version of myself.
A giant eye roll. Seriously, stop judging things that were created, stated, produced, or done decades ago thru our modern, politically correct, woke perspective. It’s silly. It’s meaningless. It’s unproductive.
Lack of oxygen, which is the simplest way to put out a fire.
A peaceful life away from an unwanted spotlight.
firearms safety training & a set of steak knives
The Cuomo Brothers
Actually, they’ve already gotten what they deserved.
a mute button 😂
Late Night TV
Atleast one new host that is actually funny & not a complete douchenozzle.
Consolidation & lower prices…y’all are getting out of control nickel & diming us into poverty.
A return to the glory years of being enjoyable, must-see television. The current product ain’t it and we all know it.
A permanent new host that everyone can embrace.
Wisdom. Happiness. Good decision making. Freedom. Peace.
Intestinal fortitude to withstand what is to come. Ride the wave my man. Enjoy the moment. Sadly, we all know it won’t last.
Per tradition I shall end with a quote from the Rankin-Bass animated classic Santa Claus Is Comin’ To Town:
“Lots of unhappiness? Maybe so. But doesn’t Santa take a little bit of that unhappiness away? Doesn’t a smile on Christmas morning scratch out a tear cried on a sadder day? Not much maybe. But what would happen if we all tried to be like Santa and learned to give as only he can give…of ourselves, our talents, our love and our hearts? Maybe we could all learn Santa’s beautiful lesson and maybe there would finally be peace on Earth and good will toward men.”
Reflect upon your present blessings, of which every man has plenty, not on your past misfortunes, of which all men have some. – Charles Dickens
Eleven years ago in this space I presented a list of 7 Things I Am Thankful For, and before we proceed it must be understood that I am still grateful for all of them. I lost my Rocco a couple of years ago, but otherwise everything is status quo. That doesn’t preclude me from recognizing other blessings in my life though, right?? In looking back at that little ditty what I am struck by more than anything is the sense of melancholy in the intro. I would like to tell you that I feel differently about life now, but let’s face it…many of us have had a tough path the last couple of years. However, I believe it is that profound sense of loss & disaffection which makes it all the more important to acknowledge those things in life that bring us a little slice of occasional pleasure. So, as I wish The Manoverse a hearty & sincere Happy Thanksgiving, please enjoy…..
from the home office in Pilgrim, TX…..
The Superfluous 7 More Things For Which I Am Thankful:
Full disclosure…I am not as much of a reader as I once was. In the past a 500+ page book was child’s play, but sadly my attention span seems to have diminished. I purchase books with the best of intentions, but one of the more…uncomfortable…questions I get periodically is “How many of these books (in my apartment) have you read??”, with the honest answer being “Not as many as I would prefer”. There is actually a Japanese word for people like me. Tsundoku means “acquiring reading materials but letting them pile up without reading them”. Having said that, I am thankful for the books I have and the ones I will hoard in the future. I am happy that…theoretically…I am able to amuse myself with a well written book. Classic novels. Biographies. Books about sports, politics, food, history. It’s all good. Read to your children. Encourage them to appreciate books. They’ll never go out of style.
6 Home Health
In the past I have written about My Unfortunate Incarceration of 2006-08. What some may not know…because I prefer to keep things pretty low key…is that I have been going thru a similar experience since the spring of 2020, but it’s a lot different this time around. Social media is a big part of that (Facebook/Twitter/Instagram wasn’t a thing 15 years ago), along with a couple neighbors whose help is so appreciated it cannot be properly articulated. However, I want to give a shout out to home health nurses and others within such agencies. No one will ever know the depths of despair I have sporadically found myself in this past year & a half. People have their own problems and don’t want to hear someone else complain. But atleast I’ve been at home. Except for a couple of months spent in the hospital & another facility at the beginning of this arduous process I have been able to slowly heal in the peaceful comfort of my humble abode. I am not where I need to be yet. I’m not sure if/when I’ll be able to return to the work force. However, because of home health visits a few times per week I am able to eat my own food, watch my own television, sleep in my own bed, and even venture out on brief excursions (yes, they are aware I leave my apartment occasionally). The situation has been difficult as it is, but I believe if I’d been away from home this whole time it might’ve broken me. God bless the whole concept of home health and especially the men & women out on the road every day providing such amazing care to patients like me.
5 People With Mechanical Skills
I feel like there’s a better way to frame it, but my brain isn’t coming up with the right word. Y’all know what I mean though. Some folks are just…handy. They are the friends/neighbors/family you call to help install, repair, set up, & troubleshoot if that sort of thing just isn’t in your wheelhouse, or if you’re like me and have physical limitations that make certain scenarios challenging. A couple of years ago I bought a new television and hired someone to mount it on my living room wall. My neighbor Bernie has helped me put together new bookshelves a couple of times. In the past few years I’ve had to call roadside service twice when I busted a tire. Every once in awhile I’ve got to take the truck to a local garage for one thing or another (we’ve all been there). My wheelchair was in need of some repairs recently so I called the place where I bought it to set up a service call. If you are the type of person who can figure out just about anything and does everything yourself then congratulations…you can be thankful for that self-reliance, knowledge, & good old-fashioned know-how. However, I think we can safely assume that almost everyone needs help with something on occasion, and I am thankful that there is usually someone somewhere who knows a whole hell of a lot more than me.
I realize that it is fashionable to wax nostalgic for the idyllic “old days” when life was simpler and our perception is that almost everything was “better”. It is also en vogue to rail against social media, television, The Internet, and all manner of technological advances. I am not here to vociferously defend any of those things. They’ve all done their part in destroying civilization (wow…that sounds pretty dramatic!!). Perhaps life was better and/or simpler 30, 50, or 100 years ago. However, since we have all that cool stuff available to us we may as well enjoy it. During this global pandemic we’ve all been living thru I have observed many friends reacquainting themselves with nature and enjoying all that the great outdoors has to offer. To borrow a phrase, it seems to renew their soul. However, as someone for whom that kind of thing has never been a viable option…especially in recent months…I am thankful for my big ol’ TV, smart phone, & laptop. I have a love/hate thing going with social media in that comparing the awesome lives of others to my own existence can drag me down, but on the the other hand I enjoy keeping up with friends, watching their kids grow up from afar, and staying in touch with the outside world. It’s a fascinating dichotomy, but today I am choosing to look at the glass as half full and embrace the positive aspects of modern technology.
3 My Local Coffee Shop(s)
I am not a coffee person. I do not require a cup o’ joe every morning to wake up. Hot tea is my jam at home, and I cannot remember the last time I even fixed a cup of coffee. Once upon a time (three ministers ago) I used to enjoy a cup or two before Sunday school or at Wednesday evening Bible study. If you told me I’d never be allowed to consume coffee ever again my life wouldn’t change at all. However, something happened during the Quarantine of 2020. Restaurants began offering curbside service. One can call them up or order online and when you arrive they’ll bring it out to your vehicle. It’s a dream come true for fat guys in wheelchairs everywhere!! Since I do enjoy a little variety I began (before I ended up in the hospital) visiting a lovely coffee shop (not Starbucks 👀) not too far from here. I order a sandwich or pastry and a cup of coffee online, pick it up, park somewhere, and enjoy my food & beverage. This past summer, when I regained the ability to be out for short periods of time, I restarted the practice. I can’t afford to do it often, but it’s a nice option every once in awhile, and eventually I had a revelation: it isn’t about the coffee. It’s about taking a drive, listening to music in the truck, watching traffic, & observing the energy in the town as I drink my warm cup of serenity. Going out for coffee feels less consequential & more casual than lunch or dinner. The coffee is a classic MacGuffin. It is simply an excuse…motivation to get out & about and enjoy some sunshine & fresh air. Some people go hiking or fishing…I go out for coffee. There’s a new coffee shop opening even closer to me very soon and I can’t wait to check it out.
2 The Robinson Grand
Living in a small town is a doubled-edged sword. I love the slow pace, (mostly) friendly people, familiarity, solid family values, relative safety, & reasonably low cost of living. However, I have complained for decades about the dearth of job opportunities & total lack of entertainment options. There’s not much I can do about the former, but the latter was alleviated to some degree a few years ago with the re-opening of the Robinson Grand Performing Arts Center just a mile from my lair. I’m sure similar venues dot the landscape of hamlets like Clarksburg across the nation, but the RGPAC is ours and I’m going to brag on it. Originally built in 1913, it was the local movie theater when I was a kid in the late 1970’s & 80’s, but then a shopping mall came along & killed downtown. The Robinson Grand sat deserted & in disrepair for a very long time, but was restored to its former glory in 2018 (coincidentally by an old high school classmate of mine). Since then I have spent as much time there as circumstances, health, & financial considerations allow. I have enjoyed all kinds of cool stuff, from old movies like Beetlejuice & White Christmas to concerts with Travis Tritt, The Guess Who, & Chris Janson, to stage productions like Tony Award winning Once & community theater presentations of Annie and The Addams Family. The theater is accessible, the staff friendly & accommodating, and the entertainment top notch. I am reminded of a line in The Eagles’ song The Sad Cafe: “Oh it seemed like a holy place protected by amazing grace, and we would sing right out loud the things we could not say”.
When I was in school I played trombone in the band from 6th grade thru my senior year of high school. I’d originally intended to play trumpet, but since I am sitting down all the time and trumpet requires a lot of air it proved difficult and my teacher suggested the trombone. Anyway, I wasn’t that good & sold the instrument right after graduation. I never perceived trombone as being all that cool and harbored a secret desire to become a badass guitar player or learn the piano. A college friend attempted to teach me some guitar basics, but dexterity just isn’t my thing. I also enjoyed brief stretches in my church choir a couple of times, but as awesome as it’d be to be the lead vocalist of a sweet cover band the truth is I can’t sing either. At any rate, I am glad that I have felt a deep connection to music throughout my life. Novelist Aldous Huxley once opined that “after silence that which comes nearest to expressing the inexpressible is music”, and God knows music has been a good friend to me in good times & especially in not so good times. My preferences are eclectic, and I am extremely thankful for that. I don’t think I really developed decent taste until college, but in the ensuing years music has been such a blessing. I feel special kinship with the rock n’ roll of my youth, but also have an appreciation for classical, jazz, & blues and seek to become more knowledgeable about those genres. I may not listen to show tunes on a regular basis but delight in a good musical and marvel at the talent on stage. With the holidays approaching I will be immersing myself in Christmas carols & associated tunes. Thanks to my father I learned to admire crooners like Frank Sinatra & Dean Martin at an early age. Pretty much the only stuff I’m really not into is country & rap, although I find even some of that pleasurable. In the past couple of years I’ve spent more time than ever before listening to music and only wish that opportunities to enjoy live music were more convenient & accessible (that small town thing again). Henry David Thoreau said “When I hear music, I fear no danger. I am invulnerable. I see no foe. I am related to the earliest of times, and to the latest.”, which is quite profound yet understandable.