Planners Gonna Plan

I don’t know if it’s the hastening of my time, the chemo, or the weather, but rain hasn’t been the only source of water in Chattanooga over the past couple of weeks. For whatever reason, I’ve been a bit more emotional than usual. My apologies to all that I’ve made uncomfortable by cracking in a meeting or conversation. Maybe the reappearance of the sun will help me master myself.

Speaking of the sun, what a weekend. While I'm a massive fan of overcast days, two days chock full of sunshine happened to be just what the doctor ordered. In addition to watching the boys play sports, I even got into the action myself. A an off-handed comment by my oldest about how about I “used to be athletic”, goaded me into a couple of days of backyard hoops. (Yes, I taught the boy a lesson). I also managed a trip to the driving range in order to shank a bucket of balls all over the God's creation. All in all, it was a good weekend and I feel great- just in time for chemo- yay!

I am a planner. It’s how I’ve made my living, and it’s how I live. As I wrote last spring, the bright side of my situation has been the advanced warning- I’ve been given a chance to take a victory lap. The bad news is that I was diagnosed with stage IV cancer and it was estimated that I had about a year to live- the good news is that I was given a one-year notice. The year has had its downsides (notably that little spell in Houston last fall), but on the whole, it’s been fantastic. It’s not that I’ve traveled or played any more than normal, but I’ve grasped the significance and importance of each journey in a way I otherwise wouldn’t. Knowing that my time is short has made that short time better.

How many people die suddenly, unexpectedly, or with little warning? If they are lucky then their basic planning bases are covered- life insurance, wills, and advanced directives*. Their ability to say goodbye, however, or to do more in-depth planning and preparation is often denied.

The goal of my planning effort is to make things as easy as possible for D and the boys after my departure. Things will be difficult enough for them without having to worry about all of the financial and legal details that go along with a death. I’ve left explicit instructions on how to handle all of the affairs of the house, and I’ve put a team of advisors in place to help shepherd them through this tough time. This team includes an attorney, a financial advisor, an accountant, a grief counselor, a pastor, and a funeral home director. (Special thanks and a shameless plug for my dream team of Miller & Martin; Henderson Hutcherson & McCullough; HHM Wealth; Northside Presbyterian; Heritage Funeral Home & Cremation**; and, Chico’s Bail Bonds.) Beyond being exceptionally competent, each of these friends has been incredibly supportive of my wife and me throughout this process.

That type of planning is important and necessary, but let’s be frank- it’s dry. Some of my other planning endeavors are much more fun. Specifically, I’ve been working through the process of leaving behind a record for my wife and boys to discover in the future. In essence, I’ve been working on ways to be a part of their lives when I won’t be around to be a part of their lives.

The first step in this planning was to properly catalogue the existing record. This involved the relatively straightforward task of assembling various assets- old yearbooks, journals, writings, and photos. Most of that stuff is self-explanatory, but I’ve left a little note with each asset to explain the context and in some cases tell a short story. I went through all of my photos and dated them as best I could, and identified the place and people in them. I also played censor. It’s not that I had a ton of incriminating pictures lying about, but I was young once (thank goodness Facebook and mobile phone cameras weren’t around in the early 90’s). Which is to say that some of those photos will be held in reserve until the boys are old enough to contextualize them.

Censored photo Exhibit A: There are few good answers
to the question "Dad, why were you riding a statue
of Woody Hayes at 2 in the morning?"
Serendipity has also been my friend during this process. Immediately after the birth of each child I went to a liquor store and bought a bottle of Dom Perignon and an expensive port suitable for aging. My thought was that at important dates in the future I would give these to the boys as a gift of significance. I probably would have gone with the champagne on their 21st birthday and the port as a wedding gift. I’m still waffling on those dates- will a 21 year old really appreciate an aged champagne of that caliber? Will they even choose to get married? While I’m still working on the exact timing of the gift, I’m happy that I made those purchases, and that I will be still be able to play some small part in the celebration of a couple of their big life events.

Another little piece of providence comes in the form of paper. Over the years I’ve done a bit a traveling, and one of “my things” is that where possible, I abscond with hotel stationery. I’ve often wondered if there was ever going to be a practical application for that booty, but came up with nothing…until now. I decided that I would write each boy a happy birthday letter for D to mail at the appropriate time in the future. Aside from the obvious point of telling them I love them, I use the letter to describe myself at that age and to share some nugget of wisdom that came from that year. What better use could that stationery be put to! In each letter I include a postscript about the trip the stationery came from, and encourage them to make (or avoid) that same journey for themselves one day. For the record, writing children birthday letters from beyond the grave is the most emotionally draining thing I’ve ever done.

Even a mundane trip to the store is fair game for a video.
Now that I’ve got those in the can, I’m gilding the lily by moving on to video. These days, if you’ve got a phone or a computer with you, you’ve got everything you need to make a movie. I’m trying to get in the habit of taking several five to ten minute breaks during the day to turn the camera on and tell a story. The truth is that whatever I’m saying doesn’t have to be particularly entertaining or well produced to have a great deal of value for the boys when I’m gone. This understanding makes it much easier to hit the record button. (It also pressures me to shave more than I like to- which is never).

I am now facing the melancholy moment when most of the planning work is done. In addition to its practical value, the planning has been a wonderful exercise. It’s been a way for me to keep busy, and it’s been therapeutic and cathartic. This has been one of the few things about my situation that I can control. It’s been a security blanket. Now that the planning is done, it’s time to pivot and turn my attention elsewhere. Any ideas?

*By the way, please consider this my admonishment to you to take of these things if you haven’t already. To my younger friends, buy more life insurance than you need while it’s cheap.

**This week I checked in at the crematory on Facebook, but noted that I was “just visiting” this time. I thought it was quite funny, my wife, not so much.


Rushing's Eleven

...and the hits just keep on coming...

Some years ago, a few friends and I decided that in our old age it would be a good idea to start playing basketball again. Thus was born the “Dunks for Drunks” crew. The group consists primarily of architects (practicing and recovering), and others who dabble in the built environment. As the name suggests, the couple of hours of basketball was also an excuse to meet for drinks afterwards. After a several year run, the game waned over the last few months before my diagnosis. Immediately afterwards, the group pulled together for what proved to be one last game- it did not end well as a number of us succumbed to injury and old age. Due to our friendships and profession, however, we all keep closely in touch. A couple of weeks ago, I was asked by one of the boys to reserve a Friday night- the Dunks for Drunks crew was going to have a night out in the ATL.

Now that is a talented crew.

I’ve always had mixed emotions about Atlanta. Having grown up in Montgomery as a competitive young man, I made a rivalry of everything and as such my city was better than theirs. This changed when my mother and stepfather married and we moved to Colorado. Atlanta became a symbol of all that was good and righteous in the South. Despite not particularly caring for them before I left, being away from the South precipitated a love of all Atlanta sports teams- in particular, the Hawks. It was during this time of homesick outreach that I came to embrace my boyhood hero- Dominique Wilkins. (I’ve written about this before.) There is no point in delving into the details of my fandom, but in addition to patterning my game after him, every square inch of my walls were covered in ‘Nique posters and newspaper articles, I wore hawks gear or clothing lines that he endorsed, and I even drank Minute Maid Orange.

Upon moving back to the South, I made many a trip to Atlanta- invariably to visit a museum or see a sporting event. During these visits Atlanta also provided an education on the nature of cities. The most obvious example of the dark side of American urbanism was the horrible traffic- enough said. The other examples I remember most had to do with humanity.

One story in particular is illustrative of my ATL experience. In the mid-eighties, Mom took my brother and I to see the Hawks. Having arrived early, My brother and I decided to take a stroll around the Omni/CNN Center. At some point a “homeless” guy approached us, told us a heartrending story and asked for money. Having never experienced a situation like this before, I was devastated for the guy and turned out my wallet to give him what few dollars I had earned and saved to spend at the game. I was saddened to not be able to buy Hawks swag, but felt great that I was able to help someone. Two years later, I was back in town to see the Hawks. The same guy approached us and told us the same heartrending story. I reminded him that we had met before under similar circumstances, he turned on his heels and bolted. That incident not only made me feel foolish for getting duped, it negated the feeling of having done something to help someone. Years later, while at UNM, the architecture school was literally on Route 66- I got a much more expansive education in the nature of panhandlers, homeless, and “urban grit”. That first experience in Atlanta, however, has always stuck with me.

Fast-forward to my adulthood, and Atlanta was again a place of significance for me- it was my last “normal” trip. Last spring, the youngest and I escaped for a weekend away together- it was a great trip, we went to some fun restaurants, spent too much time at their Aquarium (ours is better), rode the Ferris wheel, and enjoyed walking around. Of course, his favorite memory involves us sleeping in at the hotel, watching a couple hours of Teen Titans Go, and eating skittles for breakfast (in my defense, skittles were consumed during breakfast hours, but were not technically our breakfast). While we had a great time, I felt a bit under the weather during the trip. The Monday after our return, I went to the doctor and that led to the discovery of my cancer.

All of this is to say that I’ve had a long and complex history with Atlanta. While most of my stories have negative connotations, I have had my share of good times there: many a concert (including several Oasis and Noel Gallagher shows); the ’96 Olympics; a fair few Alabama football games (those would be SEC Championships); and my last few years of following the CFC Academy 05 Boys team to tournaments in the metro area.

On this most recent trip, twelve friends made our way down I-75 for the evening. After arriving mid-afternoon, it was “game on”. I suppose it is good fortune that I am unable to drink these days, as I probably wouldn’t have made it to dinner otherwise. The call was put forth to dress for the occasion, and having just finished watching Skyfall and Legend back-to-back on a flight, I pushed for tuxedos. Looking rather smart, the crew headed out for dinner at Marcel. This was a perfect place for a guys’ night out- think steak and bourbon. Our boy picked a set menu that was essentially my bucket list of my favorite steakhouse fare- shellfish towers, escargot, foie gras, steak tartare, and Cote de bouef. (I think there was also salad and vegetables, but I can’t be sure.)

Just shooting the breeze with my boyhood hero.

The toasts were flying fast and furious- until the steaks arrived. (Mine was a feeble attempt- I couldn’t quite get everything out.) The final toast noted that the night had a secret in store- the group had managed to pull some strings to get me a meet and greet with Dominique before a Hawks game. After dinner, I hopped an Uber with a couple of the guys and we made our way to Philips arena. Upon arrival we met with some Hawks officials who led us down to the bench, where shortly thereafter, Dominique and Grant Hill came over and introduced themselves. We probably spent five minutes with those two chatting, reminiscing, and shooting the breeze. I've chatted with Dominique before, but this time we actually spoke long enough to have a conversation. We compared notes on our children, talked about the Hawks run in for the playoffs, and their relative lack of action before the trade window. He had been told about my situation and seemed sincere in wishing me the best. It was a truly awesome experience- and even more meaningful since my friends (and their wives) so thoughtfully helped bring that full-circle for me. On this trip, Atlanta did not disappoint.

That's a tough starting five right there.

Part of why I had a tough time making my toast during dinner is that I was choking up and feeling a bit emotional. The more pragmatic reason was that I simply lack the words to describe how appreciative I am to count each of them as friend. This group obviously has things in common- notably professional endeavors- but there is an underlying love and friendship in the group that transcends architecture and basketball. One of life’s tragedies is that I wasn’t able to spend as much time with each as them as I would have liked, nor was I able to love each as much as I should. I’m not ready to say goodbye just yet- I believe there is some silliness for us to share yet. However, I am of the belief that it’s never too early to acknowledge the people you love. Boys, you already know it, but I love you.  (Now somebody get that man a gen jiblet!!)


My Bad

I apologize in advance for picking on my liberal friends a little bit. It seems that despite my best efforts, all of the election year blabber is starting to get to me.

The feedback from my post a couple of weeks ago is that it was sad. My mood is always a bit dark immediately following a chemo cycle, and apparently that came through in the post. For as long as I’ve been writing this blog (5+ years) the content has been little more than me jotting down my inner dialogue. In this case, perhaps I shared a bit too much. It was not my intent to make anyone sad – my bad. I try to remind myself that as tough as this situation is for me, it’s arguably tougher for you. I’ve been fortunate that no one really close to me has died (except Baba, but she was in her 90’s)- but I suspect that watching a loved one die is tough. It’s out of your control and painful. When the deed is done, however, I won’t be around to deal with it- you will. One of my goals has been to make things as easy as possible for everyone. That should include not writing sad, woe-is-me posts. The flip side is that I love ya’ll and want to be as honest as I can about my experience as it may help you in some way as you deal with your own lives.

In that post I noted that life is not fair. This is certainly true; fairness is a human construct that doesn’t occur naturally in the “real world”. We usually wheel this phrase out when describing something bad that’s happened. In truth, the statement is value neutral, it applies as much to good fortune as it does to bad. When an otherwise healthy and athletic forty-three year gets a rare form of cancer, that is certainly bad luck. Fortunately, however, that’s not the only luck I’ve had.

At birth, I won the lottery. I was born at a great time in human history, in the greatest country the world has seen to this point. I was born to a married couple that wanted me. While not wealthy by American standards, from a global perspective we were. As with the overwhelming majority of my contemporaries in America, running water, electricity and public infrastructure were readily available. My Alabama public school education, while poor from a national standpoint, was still far superior to what most people on the planet received. From a genetic standpoint I became a handsome, athletic, relatively tall, blue-eyed, male – things that were mostly considered to be physical attributes in our society (although, some of those “attributes” have come under fire recently).

Good luck would peek in on me from time to time throughout the rest of my life. It’s luck that I met my friends over the years. Luck that in was in a specific time and place to meet my wife. Luck that it was relatively easy for us to conceive children. Luck that those children were born healthy (and handsome, and athletic, and tall, and blue-eyed, and male). (Whether that is good luck is a matter of perspective. I suspect that in their lifetimes the libs will make them pay (literally) for those sins. As the good book says, however, we must render unto Caesar what is Caesars.)

While I benefitted from a healthy dose of luck, as Ralph Engelstad, Benjamin Franklin, Samuel Goldwyn, Thomas Jefferson, Charles Kettering, Stephen Leacock, Ron Harper, Michael Jordan once said “the harder I work the luckier I get”. I worked hard in public schools to get accepted to a public university. I used a combination of  hard work (and student loans) to make my way through that- were it not for that hard work I would not have met my friends in New Mexico. By doing well at UNM I was able to make it to another public institution for graduate school. Once again I used a combination of work (and loans)  to make my way through- putting myself in a position to make friends in Auburn. That work then put me in a position to get my first job in Chattanooga. Working hard at that job while making prudent financial choices put me in a position to start my own business. Working hard to make my business a success (in addition to my wife’s hard work at her job) then opened up a variety of other opportunities for the family. If there is something I want my boys to take from this, it’s that hard work plays a bigger part in success than luck. It's also the most important part because it's the only thing you can control. You have no control over the situation into which you were born, and you often have no control over the good and bad breaks life gives you. Despite what others may believe, no one actually gives you anything simply because you are tall or handsome or blue-eyed. I digress..

As for the dark side of luck, I’ll skip the petty stuff and jump right to the matter at hand. For an otherwise healthy and athletic Caucasian male to develop gall bladder cancer is simply bad luck. To begin with, it’s a very rare cancer for anyone. Those who do get it generally live in South America, Eastern Europe, or Central Asia. Women are more than twice as likely to get it as men. It's most commonly found in those who are in their seventies or eighties. It also tends to occur in people who are obese. The cancer wasn’t caused by smoking, bad eating habits, lack of exercise, or any other poor life choice. That this would become my doom is highly unlikely, but here we are- it’s simply bad luck.

This brings us back to the point. There is no making sense of this. There is no order or reason. Life isn’t fair. On the balance of things, I have crafted a wonderful life for myself. Having been aware for some time of just how lucky I am, I’ve appreciated my good fortune at every step, and squeezed every drop of fun out of it. Looking back at all of the great experiences I’ve had, all of the great relationships I’ve developed, and all of the love I’ve experienced, I can honestly say that I’ve made my peace with checking out early. I’ve lived a great life, and while I missed a few opportunities here and there, I’ve done a lot, achieved a lot, and experienced a lot. I’m good with it.

I’ve done a great job of building up this argument and using it to cheer/psyche myself up. As far it pertains to me, I totally believe in this idea. However, the construct abruptly and spectacularly crumbles when I think about having to leave my children behind. There is no silver lining there, nothing good about it- no luck. Life is not fair.

A parting shot- I'm in the process of taking care of "final plans". One of those plans is for my memorial service. I am contemplating having an "open mic" portion of the program to give people an opportunity to share a memory of me- this is largely for my boy's sake. I have two fears about this: 1) that no one will say anything and it will be awkward for everyone, and 2) that some will convey wildly inappropriate stories (you know who you are). There isn't much I can do about 2 (other than to ask you not to be an ass), but I can at least give you a heads up to start thinking about a good (and concise) story that people might like to hear. Have at it.


Pleasure and Perfection

Sorry, I'm a couple of days late- I have a good excuse. The feedback is that last week's post was sad- sorry for that. There is a flip side to that post, and I hope to have it ready for you next week. In the meantime and also following up on last week’s post, I'm delighted to share that I’ve managed to cross the “Holy Grail” of restaurants off my list. This past weekend D and I traveled to California for dinner. The trip was not about the food (well, maybe a little about the food). The journey was more about a philosophy of cooking, of design, and of life. 

A dozen years ago while visiting my mom in Montgomery, I was in her kitchen stealing anything that wasn’t tied down browsing for provisions and looking to add to my cookbook collection. I came across a large and handsome volume entitled The French Laundry Cookbook. A quick glance at the dust cover showed that The French Laundry is a restaurant in Napa Valley run by Chef Thomas Keller. The book was obviously not well used, so I asked mom if I could have it. (Thankfully she said yes, because I had resolved to steal it in any event.)

One of my little quirks is that like to read cookbooks. Recipes fascinate me and I love using my imagination that way. I was delighted to find that there were more than just recipes to be found in this book. Scattered throughout were essays on a variety of subjects that, in sum, express the philosophy of the chef. I was further delighted to find that almost all of these philosophies could be applied to architecture and urban design. These include concepts such as embracing the innate nature of an ingredient, the importance of sourcing local materials, economy of material versus wastefulness, and respecting the sacrifices that are made to enable a final product. In fact, those essays actually helped shape and reinforce my own professional philosophy as much if not more than any class I had in college.

Over the years I have continually played with the cookbook and attempted to master various recipes. I have had mixed results. The obvious challenge is being able to source exotic and expensive ingredients. Another challenge is one of technique. I have skill in the kitchen, but some of the work in the book is next level stuff. In the end, however, I think the book is less about how to make Thomas Keller’s food in your own house than it is about putting forth a philosophy that highlights why food and its preparation are special.

Lowering the flag at sunset in The French Laundry Garden.
In the years since I first stole acquired the book, Chef Keller has become a household name and his restaurant group has expanded. For years, it’s been a goal of mine to get out to Yountville and have dinner at his flagship restaurant. As with many things in life, however, that goal got bounced around by work and home responsibilities, other trips, and my innate skepticism of all things Californian (just kidding…mostly). For my birthday this year, however, my mom jump-started the dream by giving me a gift card for TFL. With a little help from my friends at AMEX concierge, we were able to navigate the formidable task of securing a reservation. (I mention AMEX specifically because they stand in contrast to the poor experience we had with Chase Ultimate Rewards this weekend- ditch them if they're in your wallet.)

While not ready to trade the German sedan just yet,
  this was fun for the weekend.
I’m normally guilty of over-planning our vacations, or at least making sure that every second is dedicated to some worthy experience. In this case, the only thing that mattered to me was dinner, so I made no other plans (other than requesting a convertible rental car*). Consequently, on the day of the dinner we had essentially a full day to kill. A quick glance at the map showed that we were slightly more than an hour from the coast. I’ve never touched the Pacific before so we decided to drive out to Muir Beach and do just that. On the way, we dug a bit deeper and found that Muir Woods and the redwoods were just a few more minutes away. The giant redwoods weren’t on my bucket list (primarily because I don’t have a bucket list), but were quickly added and then crossed off. Muir Beach and the Pacific were nice (nice and cold), but not quite as impressive as the forest. (Of course, “the beach” for me will always be Seagrove- and that is a tough standard to match.) After our day of sight seeing, we had a leisurely drive back in the convertible and got gussied up for dinner.

I've now hit the American tri-fecta:
the Atlantic, Pacific, and the Gulf.
Guess which is my favorite...
The restaurant was a short and pleasant walk away from the hotel. Upon arrival, we made to take the obligatory photo in front of the restaurant sign. Before we could pull the phone out, however, Tyler (the maitre d’) appeared from nowhere, introduced himself (he already knew my name), and offered to take our picture. He then led us to the courtyard for some sparkling (Dom P for D, cider for me) and a canapĂ© (the famed cornet- this time with fluke). That was the beginning of the greatest meal experience ever. I won’t walk you through the menu**; there are only so many superlatives I could use to describe this remarkable food. In any case, the experience, while about food, was not about the food. This was a philosophy of life articulated in fourteen dishes. This was also as much about hospitality as it was food. There seemed to be a genuine interest in us having a great experience. Everyone from start to finish was exceedingly nice- not in the saccharine “customer service” way, but in a real and honest way. This stands in contrast to some of my other fine dining experiences (say, Le Taillevent and Charlie Trotter’s), where the service was cool if not aloof. We southerners take pride in our friendliness and hospitality- the people we met at French Laundry would fit right in here.

When the meal was over, the bill arrived. Not usually one of the highlights of a fine dining experience, but at this point I was willing to open my wallet and welcome them to whatever they wanted. I opened the bill folder to find a hand written note explaining that the meal was compliments of Chef Thomas Keller.*** Apparently, after we made our reservations, a curious staff member came across the blog, and brought it to the Chef’s attention. I protested their generosity, but was told that the decision had come from the top. Who then am I to disagree with Thomas Keller? Tyler then led us on a tour of the kitchen. In the middle of service the chef de cuisine (Tennessean David Breeden) and a number of his colleagues stopped what they were doing and came over to shake hands and have a chat. It was an extraordinary end to a magnificent evening.

If I live to be a hundred, I don’t know that I’ll ever have a more memorable night. It was a most special time for D and I to enjoy together. It was made even more special by the people who worked to ensure that two total strangers had such an experience. I am indeed a lucky man, and thankful to have lived such a charmed life.

*Originally, I thought the idea of driving through Napa Valley in a convertible was bougie and cliché. That actually still holds true, but I must admit that it was an awful lot of fun.

**Ok, I won't walk you through the whole thing, but I have to tell you about one little element. Do to my liver, I can't drink alcohol. For the meal, they had a relatively easy time of pairing wine for D, I presented a much greater challenge. One of their solutions was next level stuff. A flute arrived at the table filled a quarter of the way with grated black winter truffle, it was then filled with Ftiz's root beer. I can't even...I need a moment...

***Is it downright tacky to mention that the bill got comped? Sure. After some deliberation, however, I felt that I had to include it in the story because it reinforces the generosity of spirit that made that night so special. It also goes to show that in addition to being the G.O.A.T American chef, Mr. Keller is also a stand up guy.


The Home Stretch

Well friends, it appears that we’re heading down the home stretch. Last week when I went for treatment I mentioned to the doctor that I haven’t had a big picture discussion about my prognosis since last spring. His kind and measured response was the he was hoping to get me to the summer (I tried to hear through the summer, but lying to myself isn't going to make it so).

This is not news. When the initial prognosis was made last March, the world’s foremost gall bladder cancer doctor told me that folks in my condition usually last about a year. I accepted that news and have used it for planning purposes- I even created the C.Rushing Big C Countdown Clock to help me keep track of that time. Over the past ten months I’ve adjusted my life and my expectations accordingly. I’ve done my best to accept what's coming my way with grace. Despite knowing the situation and living with it for months, it was still tough to hear again.

Despite my best efforts to deal with the situation like a big boy, it almost felt worse to hear the "news" the second time around. Apparently, I’m not immune from that good ol' American, middle-class optimism after all.  Everything we were raised on tells us that the good guys always win, things always turn out for the best, there is always a second chance, and that life is fair. Of course, this is all nonsense. Life is not fair and it owes us nothing. (I must say, however, that despite this bad break, I am, in the grand scheme of humanity, a blessed and fortunate soul.)

There is no telling what the coming days will hold. My current chemo regimen has worked for a couple of months, but cancer being cancer, the tumor will develop resistance and progress. One of the downsides of having a rare cancer is that it doesn’t attract a lot interest from researchers or big pharma- this results in fewer avenues of treatment or new trials. When my current chemo regimen runs out, there may be one more long-shot chemo option (and that's it). Afterwards, nature will run its course.

I’ve now turned my thoughts to wrapping up loose ends. I want to make sure that all of my work endeavors are tidied up to make the transition easy for the next person up. I want to make arrangements for all of the things that happen immediately after I’m gone in order to make things easier for the family. I want to make sure all my friends know I love them. Of course, I don’t know if I’ve got two weeks or two months so planning this out is awkward.

Last spring I noted three things I wanted to make sure I lived to see: Spectre, Star Wars VII, and an Alabama National Championship. I got to see all three. Unfortunately, two were minor disappointments (the movies*), but one was an unmitigated joy (the football). As I managed to make those milestones, I suppose it’s time to make another list. Here then is another list of things that I would like to stick around for:

A trip to my "Holy Grail" of restaurants

The announcement of middle school acceptance/rejection for my oldest son

A family spring break trip


My oldest son’s birthday

A family vacation


Noel Gallagher (favorite musician of all time) in Atlanta and Nashville

My brothers’ birthdays

My birthday (aka Christianmas)

I'm sure I'm missing a few, but that's what I've got off the top of my head. Given my situation, that list is a lot to ask for. It's probably a bridge too far, but only time will tell. In the mean time, I'll keep doing my thing. Until next time, ya'll be good!

*Yes, I thought Star Wars was a disappointment. Sorry, I just can’t jump on that bandwagon. I really, really, wanted to like it as much as everyone else, but it didn’t move my needle.