Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Holiday Greetings and Ramblings

It’s getting towards the end of the year, and I’m already getting nostalgic for the season. Holidays haven’t always been a good time for me, with a divided family and visiting multiple places during the season just to see everyone just to keep the underlying tension at bay as much as possible. The season is stressful enough to not have additional drama in the interpersonal realm, but when you have a mother and father that couldn’t be in the same room with each other, it adds an element to everything.

Lately, the holidays have been getting better because there have been many positive memories created, courtesy of girl and her extended family, and my amazing collective of friends. Despite the holiday weather down in Vegas last year and the snow around here, I had a great time last year and I was happy that girl and I got a chance to go back to Vegas in August. I’ve also been surrounded by lots of great people that accept me for who I am, and I’m working to address some of my own shortcomings as a person. It’s amazing what you can do when you feel that people are really behind you regardless, and it’s something I forget to acknowledge even if it’s something I’m well aware of.

I wouldn’t be playing defense on a soccer squad, or blogging full time about the Timbers, or preparing for our house to be expanded to include a cat room without the full inspiration of many great people. Unlike past years, I didn’t have time to create a holiday card, something that is part of the tradition of this time of year. I do enjoy getting cards and letters from all over the world to hear how people are doing, especially those that I don’t get a chance to see very often. It’s a peek into the window of their lives, and it shares a little something with those far away, and it’s a nice touch. However, I was working through many projects and couldn’t find the time to put words to paper.

I love being busy most of the time, because lately, it means experiencing things rather than just sitting around watching the world fly by. I was on that track for many years when I lived by myself up in Northwest Portland. Now, here I am just 4 years later, and my life is far more active, far more alive, and far more memorable. It hasn’t been without a lot of work, sacrifice, and sweat, and with many things, it hasn’t always gone as smoothly as you’d like. Nothing worth it is ever as easy as you might want it to be, but then again, it wouldn’t be worth it otherwise.

So as I sit here and think nostalgically about my last year, I’m thankful about many things about my life. I have the most amazing wife, who is the partner in crime that I’ve been looking for. She’s smart, sexy, funny, and inspires me while also driving me absolutely nuts. I’ve also been surrounded by some of the most amazing friends from various circles, who have been wonderful as well. I wouldn’t trade the folks in Row N for anything, and I love being able to spend time with such a good group of people. We’ve been able to stand side by side for many Timbers matches, while putting on a movie festival in June and celebrating another Thanksgiving at Edgefield with the entire crew. The group has grown, and now includes members of my bowling team, the Gutter Punks.

I can’t think of a better group of folks to bowl with each week than this group, and while the group has changed with kclovespdx moving back east, we are still a tight knit fun bunch. We suffer from some of the same pressures while bowling, because when one of us struggles, we seem to all struggle. But we win as a team, and we lose as a side, and I’m already looking forward to more terms of bowling with this bunch. I’m also proud to be part of the Timbers Army Football Club, as I’ve discovered a love of actually playing football instead of just watching. I may not be the best player, but I’m improving and enjoying myself, which is all you can ask at points. Well, that, and ask for more goals!!

I’ve also entered a new chapter in my life with being part of the team that blogs about the Timbers on a regular basis. My old blog site was the starting point of talking about the things I love, and suddenly, I’m now in a platform that is read all over the world. I’ve received many positive comments, and I’ve learned a bit from some of the negative news, but that’s part of being a professional writer. I know that I’m not going to please everybody with my writing, but at the same point, you respect their comments. And more importantly, you write with passion and heart, and show enthusiasm with your words. People love reading things that show some depth behind them, and I think I’ve found my voice in that arena and I stand by the results.

I also am finding myself more in love with Portland each day, as I continually discover wonderful things about this amazing part of the world. We should all feel lucky to coexist in such beautiful parts, with the hidden gems that anchor each neighborhood here. It’s great to go to different parts of town and check out the bars, restaurants, theatres, and shops and experience everything the Rose City has to offer. I can’t think of a better place to live, but living here isn’t without its challenges.

There are those here that want to keep this city weird, to coin a phrase that is often mentioned around here. They want so hard to keep things unique here that they resist any and all changes if it doesn’t seem to make sense, but by the same token, change is the dynamic force that keeps things fresh and makes us appreciate many of the things we get to experience. It’s a matter of keeping perspective on growth and making sure it doesn’t run completely amuck, which I think we do a good job of around here for the most part. I wish the process to get things done around here wasn’t so convoluted at points, but we can’t have everything.

Portland loves to talk about things and when it’s time to make a decision; it’s time to talk more to try and gain a consensus. Not every decision is going to be agreed upon by everyone, which is why sometimes tough decisions have to be made regardless. While I’m not opposed to discussion about topics, I’ve found that this city is beginning to suffer for a problem that we see all over the world.

As a society, we’ve lost the ability to carry on a rational discussion for the purpose of trying to see another person’s perspective. Instead of learning more about other sides and trying to gain understanding about how others might see things, any hot topic issue turns into a war of who can yell the loudest while having the most quotable catch phrases. And perhaps the worst trump card of all is the fact that if someone can’t refute the point, they turn the attack into a credibility war and make it personal. It’s a nasty game, and something that I have a huge distaste for, even if I get that politics now often works like that. I wish that people could respect differences and truly do what’s right for the collective of folks, but sometimes, that appears to be too much to ask.

I’m not sure if that’s because people have become more insular in their living, relying on email and chat to contact people instead of face to face talking. Or maybe it’s the relative anonymity of the Internet, which allows people to say what they want or be who they want to be without much repercussion that affects this. It might even be the society in general where everything is available all the time, from television to conversation, and there’s no longer barriers of time or money to do many of the things people want to do. You want to know about news, it’s right there, you can watch sports anytime, so why wait? While I love the ability to use technology for good, I also think that there are downsides to being this connected all the time.

I was at a party a few weeks ago when we were all talking about friendship, and I made the joke about what real friends are. They’re the people that you can borrow money from, or will answer your phone call at 3 AM because you need to talk with them, or you can ask them to help you move, and they’ll drop what they are doing because they care. With many people that use social networking tools, they develop a list of friends that might make them feel connected, but at least for me, I feel good about the number of people I actually know in person that I can count as friends. I’ve had face to face conversations with them, and feel connected on some level, which is great. And while I don’t get to see them at times as much as I’d like, that still doesn’t change the fact that I feel blessed to have them around. I can even say that on Facebook, I know the majority of my friends personally, and can say I’ve seen them in person.

But none of these issues changes the fact that we’ve live in a wonderful time, and during this time of year, we all think of the things that truly mean something to us as we spend time with the people we care about. It’s the greatest gift to feel part of something truly special, and have your place in life, and after all this time, I’ve found that place. And I wouldn’t give up this wonderful gift for anything. Have a great holiday season, however you might choose to celebrate!!

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