Untethered Dog

You Never Know Where He Will Go

Sending Away the Sniffles

I am not a doctor and I don’t play one on the Internet. I do not know what works for anyone else but here are my keys to dealing with the icks:

– Drink lots of water. Duh. You have to flush out the bad stuff.

– Put a splash of apple cider vinegar (with “the mother”) in your water 2-3 times per day. Helps you flush out the bad stuff.

– Drink warm, sugar-free beverages. The throat and chest especially appreciate hot tea. Green and ginger are my favorites. Chamomile would fit the bill here for its calming effects but, turns out, I don’t much like chamomile. Or anything else that tastes like a liquid flower.

– Consume Vitamin C in food form. Even some lemon or lime in your water helps. Cooked broccoli is another favorite way.

– Fast. Go at least 16 hours without eating — without consuming calories at all (black coffee or straight herbal tea are fine). Confine your calories into shorter windows than usual. In other words, I am definitely in the “starve the cold” rather than the “feed the cold” camp. When the body is in a fasted state it can more efficiently rid you of the icky. There is a school of thought that you should go further — 24-hour-plus fasts. That may be wise but it’s not my way. I feel like I do need some fuel. But eating all day? That is a good recipe only if your goal is to increase mucous production.

– Exercise. A little. In short bursts. This is not the time to start that marathon training that you added to your list of goals for 2020 but haven’t acted on yet, of course, but even moderate movement — I like resistance bands and the little buddy still needs his walks — helps create the kind of blood cells that make you feel better. Rest is essential, no doubt about it, but you gotta move, too. You don’t want to lie in bed all day even when you want to lie in bed all day.

– Stay warm. Wear a hat — to bed, if necessary.

– Take an extra warm shower before bed. Feel the Ahh.

– Avoid all refined sugar as though it were pure evil in granulated form.

– Use medication as a last resort. If I take anything, it’s some ibuprofen, to keep inflammation down. But if I can avoid it, really, I want to. The body has an amazing capacity to heal itself. That is, I stay out of its way.

Repair Mode

Turns out, my blahs had a physiological component.

My body, it is now clear, is fighting something.

It’s funny how you don’t notice the signs.

I recall asking a friend on Saturday morning, “Is it colder in here today than usual?” I had on two layers. He looked at me like “what are you talking about?”

Then at the gym I had no mojo. None.

That night I was around a lot of people and at least one of them, she told me later, was not feeling well.

Sunday, I was lethargic. Sure, I didn’t feel like reading or going to the philosophy club gathering. I didn’t feel like doing much of anything.

Monday, the throat became scratchy. The throat felt dry even after I consumed a gallon of water.

So we are going to give me a pass on the lack of giddyup over the weekend.

We are instead going, officially, into recovery mode: water and more water, sometimes with a little line, a couple of times a day with a splash of apple cider vinegar and salt, and it might be a good day to fast.

In other words, it’s time clean out the icky to make room for the good.

I am so grateful for my body’s ability to heal. Knock on wood: this won’t take long.

Blah, Blah, Blah

One of the constants with expression is that you don’t have much to say if you are talking all the time. Put another way, you do not have much in the way of outputs if your inputs are minimal or uninteresting.

It’s the same for a writer as it is for a growing boy or girl. You are what you eat.

As a writer, your food is your words. You have to consume fortifying words if you want to describe interesting ideas or tell compelling stories. (Words do not technically have to be found on pages; they can come from art, a lecture, a conversation, etc. But pages are best.)

In other words, you have to read if you want to write.

I feel remiss that this weekend concluded and I did not consume enough stimulating words about specific subjects or ideas. I did not fill up my tank, as it were. As a result, I did not enter the week ready to write or otherwise engage the world with enthusiasm.

Did you see that?

Did you here about this?

Do you know what happened to them?

I do not consider myself high-brow when it comes to art, or really when it comes to much of anything else for that matter, but I do require a certain level of stimulation in order to feel lit up. This weekend I didn’t even open the Sunday newspaper. I cracked a book once, only to find it primed me for a nap. I have kept writing each day but you would not want to read what I wrote.

Garbage in, garbage out.

Strange But True

One of the truly weird things about modern life is the common observance of grown men who would feel their manhood was being personally challenged by the mere suggestion that they have even a single homosexual bone in their bodies walking around in public wearing a twenty-something’s football jersey.

Hero Worship

I can’t remember the last time I watched an awards show.

Yet I cant’t get enough Golden Globes highlights — at least I can’t get enough Golden Globes highlights in which the host is Ricky Gervais.

I think I have watched his monologue from Sunday’s 2020 ceremony five times already. Even better are the compilations, and there are several good ones, of the best bits from all five times Gervais has hosted.

I must say I’m not the biggest Gervais fan you’re going to meet. Despite regular and sustained peer pressure, I didn’t get into The Office. And I couldn’t, frankly, name many — any? — of the other television shows or feature films in which he has starred.

I watch Golden Globes Gervais for his shear fearlessness.

He says he doesn’t care and you believe him. He will take on anyone in the room — not accepting the high-powered people who pay him handsomely to be there.

I have heard critics say that they do not appreciate Gervais’s style. It’s easier to put people down, they say, than to lift them up and, no doubt, Gervais puts people down. But a couple things about that:

First, he puts down members of a community — celebrities — who, let’s face it, have some ego to give. Gervais takes on a celebrity culture (“the world’s most important people, actors,” he says) that is, when you think two seconds about it, absurd). I don’t have much empathy for a public roasting of Robert Downey, Jr. Celebrity life is voluntary and it comes with more than a few perks. You sign up for a public life of wealth and convenience few of us can fathom. Gervais doesn’t put down non-celebrities. He goes after Johnny Depp, not Greta Thunberg.

Second, he’s a comedian. He tells jokes. This isn’t an inspirational seminar. He makes fun of things, of people. It’s what a comedian does. And. They. Are. Again. Jokes. You don’t have to watch.

Of course, skewering people is only palatable if slathered in some spicy funny sauce and Gervais brings the goods. Some of his bits you watch because did he really say that? Me, I watch because the brilliance somehow gets better with repetitive viewings.

The best example of this is the first time Gervais introduced Mel Gibson. Just pure gold. For me, the best part is the single second after Gervais delivered the punchline when he claps his hands and looks at Mel because he knows he nailed it in a way maybe no one else could have. You know the line and the moment I am talking about or else, well, you have access to YouTube as much as next man.

Tricks Are for Kids

When you are too tired, let go.

When you are too tight, let go.

When you are holding on, let go.

When you wish for a different world, a different outcome, a different option, let go.

That person you think you should be, oh yeah, let that go.

That person you want him or her to be, you know, you know, on that, you must let go.

There is never one answer and there never ever will be.

But you can count on this: stop. Breathe. Wait. The strength will come and it won’t take long. A few breaths more always gets you closer.

Now gather it — all of it — the notions and the potions and the assumptions and the expectations and the disappointments — into a bundle or, if you prefer, squeeze it all into a boulder. Then imagine the water below your feet, below the edge of the bridge on which you stand, imagine the water receive and accept fully all of what you no longer have to carry because you have let it go.

Every Dog Has His Day

You put your head down and do as well as you can. Not perfect. Certainly. But well. And it’s not always fun. And it’s sometimes stressful. And there are moments when you wonder if you are right to spend your time that way but, since you are committed to the bit, most of the time you soldier on and most of the time the nature of the work and the energy of the place suit you, and, besides, you work well within the confines of imposed structure, in short bursts, and so for days that turn into weeks that turn into months and soon to be three years you keep on keeping on. Most of these moments are, as most moments shall be, ordinary. Blessedly ordinary. But over this time you notice something, something that might be done better, more cost-effectively, more efficiently, not just for you but for all, and so you write this thing down on your list to bring up. But then you don’t, in fact, bring it up, not for months, maybe close to a year. You leave in your drawer on a Post-It stuck to a small pad of paper. Because there are more pressing things to take up during the precious meeting time you get and, of course, you don’t want to seem like you are complaining. But then one day you open your peephole. And another day, this day being some weeks later, your idea has been run by the powers that be, and then processed by the wizards who can, and do, put your idea into practical application, and you are told of all of this and important people are pleased and you smile outside and hugely inside and maybe even, when you are alone, get a wee bit emotional because, yeah, you did a good thing when you spoke up. A really good thing. (What were we just saying about expression?) Sigh.

Something Good This Way Comes

Expression is one of my current core values.

For reasons I won’t go into now, expression has not always come easily for me.

Also for reasons I won’t go into now, writing about expression is not coming easily for me at present, either. That is why they invented bullet points — to create the illusion of clarity when the matter at hand is a mishmash.

  • I have not always counted writing as expression. But certainly it is a form of expression. And it happens to be my primary one.
  • Expression, as per Merriam-Webster: “an act, process, or instance of representing in a medium (such as words).” That is one definition. Of course, there are others. For example, as we all know, an expression is also the way in which a person might contort his or her face upon, say, receiving some surprising news. For my purposes, I mean to explore expression as a mode by which a person offers a part of himself or herself to the world.
  • Expression is an act of vulnerability. To express is to risk — criticism, rejection, indifference.
  • Because expression is an act of vulnerability it is often the case that people — I know this well from personal experience — often either stay silent altogether or share only safe, agreeable aspects of themselves.
  • To not express is also risky — to keep important matters from the world or people you react to is to potentially bottle up the psyche. It also denies the world the benefit of receiving valuable parts of you.
  • While I aim to celebrate expression here — this post is spurred by the realization that I express myself more freely today than ever and that good things come (usually) when I do — I also must say I cringe at the way in which we are all now, in this age of social media, when Madonna assuredly no longer needs to tell us to “express ourselves,” press agents for our own lives. Here is a photo of my dinner. Can you believe what that cat just did? So just as every thought that passes through our minds is not worth sharing, just as it’s appropriate to share certain thoughts and feelings at certain times or in certain environments but not others, expression is partly about making good decisions. If everything is expressed than expression is no longer expression; it is noise.
  • Maybe — certainly — some posts to this blog are no more useful than what is found in the torrent of Facebook, Instagram, Twitter. Forgive me. I try!
  • Confidence — or lack-thereof — is intertwined with expression. You have to believe what you want to say is worth saying.
  • It’s a two-way street when it comes to confidence. You have to have it to speak, and you build it hen you speak.
  • The compound interest of daily writing … I am sure the emotional-intellectual-psychological effects are not the same for people with different orientations to the world than my own, but it’s such a boost to the mind and spirit I don’t know why everyone doesn’t do it.
  • Usually when I have nothing useful or inspired to say it’s because I have not been filling myself with with useful or inspiring art or information.
  • Sometimes, when I sit in a room and listen to people talk in nuanced tones, injecting humor or provocative questions, revealing learning and experience and hope and fears, I think to myself: “what a miracle.” What we have evolved to, I mean. That we went from grunts and chest thumps to Aaron Sorkin-authored soliloquies. The wonder isn’t that communication breaks down between people; it’s that it doesn’t breakdown every minute of every day.
  • I believe in the power of expression. You can change yourself by the mode and volume of your words. I don’t just mean over time or on momentous occasions. One short conversation can do it. You feel tight; you stay close to the vest, then the right person at the right time (friend, colleague, stranger) comes along, you open up your heart by opening up your vocal chords — or by taking out a pen or logging into your blog — and, in even just a few words, your whole countenance can change.
  • If we as humans are social creatures than it seems that what we express to each other is so important that it would be impossible to overstate how much.
  • I highly appreciate free expression in others. Vulnerability. Authenticity. Honesty. Boldness. These are some of my favorite things. (Maybe because they are not always easy. Certainly they have not always been easy for me.) I don’t do as well with frivolity. Or frivolousness.
  • I woke up early the morning after the 2016 election. I had not stayed up to see the final results. I simply did not think it possible this country would elect a man who had bragged on tape about regularly grabbing strange women by the genitals. I recall a body-blow sort of feeling while standing in my bathroom for the morning pee. Never again, I thought — this is what came up as I was letting out — never again should we play it safe, saying only palatable things to appeal to all (which is usually an appeal to none). That is what my body registered that day and the memory of that feeling remains strong: expression matters. To remain quiet is akin to a crime. Say it. Say it even if you don’t know what the world will do with it.

Podcast Appearance

Thanks to Justin McGuire for inviting me on his podcast, “Baseball By The Book.” My appearance has now been posted. It had been awhile since I did one of those. McGuire, former Major League Baseball editor at The Sporting News, was great to work with at every turn and, obviously, when it comes to the history of the game, he knows his stuff. Listen to his show — available in all the usual places — even if not the episode that features me.

Coupon in My Mailbox

Apparently, 5-year-olds are now in charge of tagging items in the dairy section at Cub.