Lincoln

I recently visited Washington D.C. for the first time.  It is incredible, with history everywhere you look.  I viewed the Founding Documents; the Declaration of Independence, the Bill of Rights, and the Constitution.  I saw the Capital, the White House, Union Station, and the magnificence of the Washington Monument.

None of that compared to the Lincoln Memorial.  It sits high upon a hill, a giant edifice.  As you approach, you remember the moments in our nation’s history that have taken place on these steps: Dr. Martin Luther King and the March on Washington, Nixon talking to protestors, speeches, and movies.

The monument was built in such a way as to encourage the visitor to first walk up the almost 100 steps, to recognize that the path is not easy, to keep looking upwards towards the President.  Once you reach the top, and enter the memorial, a quiet reverence surrounds you.  You pass through a double row of columns and are finally able to gaze upon Lincoln.  To think about the Man and what he means to the country.  Then, you are meant to visit the side chambers, where his most famous speeches hang: the Gettysburg Address to the left, and his Second Inaugural on the right.  The visitor is meant to be able to touch the untouchable here.  To feel the presense of Lincoln, and to commune with him.  As you turn to leave, the Mall spreads before you.  The President’s stare focused on the Capital Dome miles away.

Fellow-Countrymen: At this second appearing to take the oath of the Presidential office there is less occasion for an extended address than there was at the first. Then a statement somewhat in detail of a course to be pursued seemed fitting and proper. Now, at the expiration of four years, during which public declarations have been constantly called forth on every point and phase of the great contest which still absorbs the attention and engrosses the energies of the nation, little that is new could be presented. The progress of our arms, upon which all else chiefly depends, is as well known to the public as to myself, and it is, I trust, reasonably satisfactory and encouraging to all. With high hope for the future, no prediction in regard to it is ventured.

On the occasion corresponding to this four years ago all thoughts were anxiously directed to an impending civil war. All dreaded it, all sought to avert it. While the inaugural address was being delivered from this place, devoted altogether to saving the Union without war, insurgent agents were in the city seeking to destroy it without war—seeking to dissolve the Union and divide effects by negotiation. Both parties deprecated war, but one of them would make war rather than let the nation survive, and the other would accept war rather than let it perish, and the war came.

One-eighth of the whole population were colored slaves, not distributed generally over the Union, but localized in the southern part of it. These slaves constituted a peculiar and powerful interest. All knew that this interest was somehow the cause of the war. To strengthen, perpetuate, and extend this interest was the object for which the insurgents would rend the Union even by war, while the Government claimed no right to do more than to restrict the territorial enlargement of it. Neither party expected for the war the magnitude or the duration which it has already attained. Neither anticipated that the cause of the conflict might cease with or even before the conflict itself should cease. Each looked for an easier triumph, and a result less fundamental and astounding. Both read the same Bible and pray to the same God, and each invokes His aid against the other. It may seem strange that any men should dare to ask a just God’s assistance in wringing their bread from the sweat of other men’s faces, but let us judge not, that we be not judged. The prayers of both could not be answered. That of neither has been answered fully.

The Almighty has His own purposes. “Woe unto the world because of offenses; for it must needs be that offenses come, but woe to that man by whom the offense cometh.” If we shall suppose that American slavery is one of those offenses which, in the providence of God, must needs come, but which, having continued through His appointed time, He now wills to remove, and that He gives to both North and South this terrible war as the woe due to those by whom the offense came, shall we discern therein any departure from those divine attributes which the believers in a living God always ascribe to Him? Fondly do we hope, fervently do we pray, that this mighty scourge of war may speedily pass away. Yet, if God wills that it continue until all the wealth piled by the bondsman’s two hundred and fifty years of unrequited toil shall be sunk, and until every drop of blood drawn with the lash shall be paid by another drawn with the sword, as was said three thousand years ago, so still it must be said “the judgements of the Lord are true and righteous altogether.”

With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation’s wounds, to care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow and his orphan, to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations.

President Abraham Lincoln’s Second Inaugural Address
March 4, 1865

In the weeks since my visit, I think often of the Memorial and how it felt to be there. I think of what it represents. I think of what Lincoln meant to the Republic. I think of where we have come in the scant 150 years since Lincoln. I read the Second Inaugural and think of where we are as a nation. In some moments I am proud, and in others dumb-struck. I am reminded of words of other Presidents; Reagan, “…ours is not a perfect nation. But even with our troubles, we remain the beacon of hope for oppressed peoples everywhere. Never give up the fight…”; Theodore Roosevelt, “We must dare to be great…;” and Bill Clinton, “There is nothing wrong in America that can’t be fixed by what is right in America.” All of these statements speak to a hope in our nation, that ours is a fight worth fighting. That we strive to be more than we are.

Please read Lincoln’s speech, and reflect upon the Nation you want. And, perhaps, remember one other quote from ‘Honest Abe’, “America will never be destroyed from the outside. If we falter and lose our freedoms, it will be because we destroyed ourselves.”

Thoughts on an Early Morning.

It’s early for me; as I sit to write this the sun has yet to peek over the hills.  The streets are still quiet, and the cafe that I’m sitting at is still empty.  I’m sure it won’t last.

I am not an early riser.  My ideal day is to wake up at 9, read some articles and browse the internet, before finally getting up, eating breakfast, and finally getting dressed.  A successful day off is not getting dressed before noon.  That is decidedly not this morning.

It’s fun to see people in their usual routine: the guy on a motorcycle that just pulled up, greeted the barista by name, laid perfect change on the counter, and picked up his already made drink; the man in a suit on the phone as he walked by, firing questions to his assistant; the woman out for a run with her dog.  We all have our rituals and routines.  We all have a way we want to see our day go, a way to help us move the day forward.

How do we continue to move our lives forward though?  The time keeps passing, but are we moving it?  Are we pushing the day, or is it pushing us?  In a sea of Yesterdays and Tomorrows, are we adrift on the raft of Today?

We spend so much of our time exerting control on the everyday nuances of our lives: there is an app to control the temperature and lighting of your home, we can find exactly the show we want to watch when we want to watch it, we can have our coffee in incredibly complex and ridiculous ways.  We spend so much time trying to control the mundane, perhaps because we have now feel we have so little control in every other way.

I have felt my days getting away from me.  I have felt the moments and the time getting a little too far in front, always keeping me off-balance.  It’s time to slow down, to make sure I have a solid footing.  To take control of my Today, to get the Tomorrow I want.

Until next time…

Exhaustion

I would love to be able to say that my break has been due to work on other projects or because of trips to exciting places.  Instead, it is because I am exhausted.

We went on a great vacation to Portland (which I talked about here), and then almost as soon as we got back from that we moved into our own place.  For the last couple of years, while my wife was going to grad school, we have lived with both her parents and then mine. So now we are finally moved in, but that means we have spent weeks going through boxes, finding space for things, eliminating things, and discovering enough spiders to make our own horror movie.

Roughly a week after moving in, my wife and I went to Washington D.C.  It was incredible and amazing and almost indescribable.  It was also a whirlwind; with us being gone for less than 36 hours, and squeezing in a tour of the Capital City, an Oriols game, and some sightseeing.  It was an adventure and a half, but it also left us both wiped.  Once we got back from that it was more moving, more work, and plenty of late nights with early mornings.

All of this is not to say that my life is busier or more exhausting or harder.  My life is great.  But the last few weeks has been busier, more exhausting, and harder, than it has been in a while.  I haven’t been writing.  I haven’t been doing much more than surviving.  I’m done with that.  I am ready to start living again.

So, here’s to the hope for a better tomorrow.  Here’s to trying again.  A thousand starts is still a start.

Until next week…

Adventure Time!

So we are sitting in Terminal 6 of Los Angeles International Airport, waiting for a delayed flight to Baltimore, Maryland.

This is the first trip we have taken without our son since he was born, and we are both having a little bit of trouble with it. We do fine, right up until the moment he isn’t fine.  It’s a strange feeling to be without the little guy, especially to be traveling across the country. 

We take off tonight at 10:40, although we have already seen that change once, and land at 6:30am, east coast time. From there we head straight to WashingtonD.C.  I’m hoping to get some sleep on the flight, but I hate to do that. 

Flying gives you such an opportunity to work, to write, to think, and to dream. To fly over dark country, to let your thoughts wander as you cruise a couple of thousand feet in the sky. It’s pure magic. 

Until tomorrow friends, keep safe. And keep dreaming. 

On The Road…Part 2

This has been an especially wonderful trip to Portland, and only served to reinforce how much I love this city. From food to transportation to weather, this has been a model trip.

Our last trip to Portland was done in by one thing; location!  We originally thought we were booking a place in the North West section of the city, but it ended up being in North Portland.  This time we were much more selective in our choice. It makes a huge difference.  This time we are in the Nob Hill neighborhood of North West Portland, and it is great; a beautiful neighborhood in every sense of those words.

We are using AirBNB for our accommodations, and no matter how you feel about the subject, you have to admit they’ve changed the game when it comes to finding and booking rooms.  We booked about two months in advance, and spent just over $100 per night for a beautiful house, built in the late 19th-century.  More than that, it is right in the middle of great food, shops and feet away from the streetcar pickup.  Which brings me to my next favorite part of this trip.

We arrived on Wednesday afternoon and I didn’t have to get back into my car for two days, a full 48 hours, until we checked out on Friday.  We used the Portland Streetcars, and MAX Light Rail. (We avoided busses out of personal preference, not lack of choice). These conveyed us to the Oregon State Zoo, downtown, food carts, a great Farmer’s Market, coffee, dinner, lunches, and home.  We never once worried about traffic, parking, or safety.   It made one of the most stressful parts of a trip a complete non-issue.

Portland has long been recognized as a “city on the go,” with an expansive public transportation system, but if those trains have no destinations, what’s the point? The City of Portland has a lot of reasons for that system; over 10,000 acres of public parks, a world class downtown area, and beautiful neighborhoods, each with their own flavor and mood.

This is my third trip to Portland, and each time I go I find something new and exciting to do.  Portland is an incredible city with amazing gifts.  And I love it more each time.

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Links:
Oregon State Zoo
Elephants Delicatessan
Eastside Distilling
South Waterfront Farmers Market

My Best Friend

I want to tell you about Max.

Max is my dog.  He is 7 years old, a chihuahua and dachshund mix (more commonly referred to as a chiweenie).  And he is my best friend.

I have been fairly open about my Depression and anxiety.  Max has helped me through all of it for the last seven years.  He curls up with me.  He lays with me.  He doesn’t mind spending the day watching movies, or letting me pet him for as long as I need to, trying to quiet the racing thoughts.  And while this sounds just like any dog you might find, Max is special.  He comes to me when an attack starts.  He curls up in my lap, or paws at me, or just lifts my hand onto his head.  He cuddles and licks me when I hurt.

Max was a rescue dog; abandoned by his former owner as too high maintenance.  We adopted him, walking into a Pet Smart to find a bed for our first dog Milo.  We saw Max and couldn’t stop looking at him.  I asked if I could hold him, and as we walked around the store he fell asleep in my arms.  It was love.  Now, seven years later, he still falls asleep with me.

Today Max is going in for surgery.  He has a growth on his lip that needs to be removed and sent to the lap for further testing.  Under the best circumstances I wouldn’t be handling this well, and these are currently far from the best of circumstances; in the middle of a move, between trips, and during a fairly busy time at the day job.  He needs to have the surgery, and I know that the vet is excellent.  But anytime a dog has to be put under for a procedure, just as with a human, there are chances you take.  And then we wait for the lab results.

I have tons to say about Portland, a wonderful wedding in Olympia, and a crazy road trip.  I have things to say about moving and living in our own space for the first time in four and a half years.  I have things to say about the election and politics and the current state of our world.

But tonight I wanted to say that I love my dog.  My Max.

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 PUPDATE (8:00pm):  Max’s surgery went very well. A mass was moved from his lip and was sent to the lab. He is resting at home and everyone is happy to have him here. A big thank you to the Las Tables Animal Hospital. 

Update From The Road

I am traveling this week, but I wanted to share a little with you.  Enjoy these images from a wonderful trip.  I will be back next Wednesday with a regular post.

Fire escapes are plentiful in the Alphabet District.  This one particularly grabbed my attention.

One of our favorite buildings in the Alphabet District. Mixed use buildings are so amazing to me.

“Keep Portland Weird.” Portland has a wonderful sense of humor!

A wonderful day at the Oregon State Zoo.  My son had a fantastic time.

The architecture of Portland stuns me when I see it.  It is uniquely Portland.


A great Farmer’s Market by the waterfront. 

On The Road…Part 1

The countdown has started.

I am currently five days away from my second big trip this year. We are headed back to Portland for a few days, and then up to Washington State, for a friend’s wedding. Excitement doesn’t even begin to describe it.

Just about the only part I’m not excited for is the drive.  This isn’t the first time I’ve driven all the way to Portland.  It is an all day grind; just over 800 miles, and 12 and a half hours if you do not stop.  And you have to stop.

This is a return trip to the Pacific North West for us.  We were there in March, and are looking forward to exploring some different parts of the city.  This time, our goal is to use Public Transportation as much as possible.  And to eat.

My wife and I have discovered that, when we are on vacation, food is the defining characteristic of our trips.  We are constantly planning our next meal, asking the locals where the best food is, and allowing for places along the way to surprise us.

For this trip, just like our last adventure, we are using AirBNB.  We had no issues finding a great little space a few months prior, and for a very reasonable price.  It is close to all the activities we are looking forward to; a short walk to the metro station, near restaurants, and with a little coffee shop just around the corner.

The second part of our trip is a much more personal adventure; two of my closest friends are getting married, and I get to officiate their wedding.  It is such a wonderful gift, and I couldn’t be happier about it.  I will be there to help them begin a brand new chapter of their lives together.

July is going to be a very exciting and busy month, and I have a lot of travels to write about, but August is shaping up to be a huge adventure too.  I can’t wait to tell you about it.

I’m not sure there’s a way to spell, “Arghngh!”

“Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.” 
― Allen Saunders

I was thinking about the people I know today.  All of us have these silly little plans and ideas about how to make life go.  We decide on a route for our lives, and then watch as it all falls apart around us.  So what do we do when we get to these crossroads, these moments when we can change everything?
When we started that new adventure three and a half years ago, we didn’t know where it would take us.  We still don’t.  But we had a plan.  That plan changed in a lot of ways.  I don’t know that we would have planned for it to take us to this point, but here we are.  Life happened anyway.  For the last year though, we have been stuck in limbo, unable to more forward.  Life felt like it was waiting for something to give.  We have felt so stuck.

“Life isn’t about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself.” 
― George Bernard Shaw

The kind of stuck where nothing is moving; a bottleneck on the freeway of life.  Most of the reason that I haven’t felt inspired lately.  My brain is too full from everything else that is going on to cut out the noise and work the way I need it to.  Full of worry from not being able to find a place to live after looking and applying for 7 months.  Worry about jobs and cars and having a 2-year old and everything else that surrounds a person in our modern world.
Stuck in neutral is no way to move forward.  It makes everything seem tied up.  And the more you try to move forward, the less headway you make.  It takes more effort just to stay in the same place.

“Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance, you must keep moving.”
― Albert Einstein

For far too long, I have felt that I am standing still; haven’t been able to travel, haven’t had a place to live, haven’t been able to finish the things that I want to work on.  Finally, after a three-year wait and a seven-month search, we have found a place to live.  We have two trips planned and paid for over the next 6-weeks.  I am writing again.  Life is strange and hard and crazy.  It will keep after you and keep pushing you.  You have to keep moving.
The jam is starting to clear and everything is moving again.  Things are still unknown, and life is still throwing curve balls, but finally things are happening.  And I am so excited for it.

Return

It’s been a rough month.

Not in any big way, but in a million little small ones.

I have been fighting with my depression, like spinning with a pail full of water; if I slow down my rotation, the water will come spilling out.  I have felt the pull of depression a lot the last few weeks.  Not wanting to get out of bed.  Being short tempered with friends and family.

And not writing.

When I write, I tend to look inside myself, and sometimes I just don’t feel like I will sruvive the process.  But now it is an infection, swollen and painful.  I have to dig it out, before I can start to heal.

So, after a year on this blog, I took a month off.  I let the bad parts of life win for a little while.  I allowed myself to feel bad.  It’s time to get back.  It’s time to get better.