Monthly Archives: December 2013

List of Stories from 2013

2013 was the year I launched my website.
During this time, I’ve written many stories of my life and times, some short, some long, some funny, some inspirational, and all from my heart. Thanks to my readers and those who have shared them with others. Many have said I should write a book. Well, considering the list below, I pretty much already have! These are the titles of all my 2013 entries in chronological order on this site.

You can use the search function on the home page to read any of them once again or for the first time.

Those with a (*) are favorites of mine and/or my regular readers.

I look forward to writing for you in the New Year!

My 9-1-1 *
Fat Anne *
Thoughts on a walk with Butch
On Funerals and Eulogies
Saying Necessary Goodbyes
Tiny Little Epiphanies
Monday, September 16, 2013
Men are pigs and fags are liars.
Wednesday, September 18, 2013
Questions for Heaven *
#LMSM
“Let Angels Prostrate Fall” *
An Incredible Brown Box *
“,” *
Are you the reason?
My interview this morning

One in a million, nineteen thousand seven hundred twenty one.  *

Gentleman Jay
Spite, Malice & Revenge *
Humility *
“My 9/11 Story to be Guest Blog at Popular Recovery site
Making change make a difference *
Onward…
Lessons from a Witch Hunt *
Irregular people
Like things, love people. *
Consider the Geode
Passing the Baton *
Johnny Lingo’s Eight-Cow Wife
Something to think about on this Anti-Bullying Day
The 99.18% Chance of Survival *
Love does
Some people just won’t go away. *
my Christmas tree *
your inner Rudolph
Merry Christmas!
Abracadabra *
Christmas Eve
the best Christmas gift
I’m thankful to know Jennifer Lawrence *

I’m thankful to know Jennifer Lawrence

jenniferlawrence

If Jennifer Lawrence doesn’t win an academy award for her performance in American Hustle, I’ll eat my shorts.

It will be a big story.

As I walked out from the movie theater this afternoon with my son, we did the Siskel and Ebert routine we have always done about the movie we just saw. We laughed, critiqued and gave it our widely revered thumbs up or down.  Despite the differences in analysis, we both gave the talented new actress an enthusiastic thumbs up.

The crowds roared.

The bigger story, however, occurred to me as we parted ways and  I sat down in my car to head home this December afternoon on my day off to do some much needed housework and get to bed before what will be another busy day at work tomorrow.

I should not even know who Jennifer Lawrence is.

See, in a couple of weeks, it will have been a year since I was saved from spending 25 long ones in prison for years of high level drug trafficking.  On January 16, 2013, a district court  judge–by some divine appointment–granted me grace, an unmerited favor, sending me off on a four year probationary period instead, any violation of which would cancel his mercies and return me to life in an orange jumpsuit until I was 76 years old…and I would never have savored this afternoon with my son eating snacks and drinking cherry Coke  watching a brilliant performance by an actress I would otherwise never have known.

At home now,  dreading the many thankless chores of keeping my dishes done, clothes clean and floors vacuumed, I’m overcome with thankfulness that I have these things to look forward to instead of another day laying on a hard cot wondering what I might have been doing otherwise if I had been free this afternoon.

I realize that as you’re reading this, you will never enjoy the luxury of fully comprehending this feeling.  Good for you on the one hand, bad for you on the other. Yay for you who are blameless. Yay more for you who never got caught. But the truth is, we are all criminals.  We are all thankless criminals.

This isn’t an empathic appeal for the imprisoned or a timely celebration of my pardon from incarceration.  It’s an appeal to be thankful in whatever your bad circumstances of the day, which may feel like imprisonment but are not.

An unhappy marriage.  A cancer diagnosis. A shortage of caramel for your macchiato.

Just three months ago, I was wailing about my inability to gain work and an income.  Now that I have a job, I come home exhausted and have on all too many occasions complained to my roommate that “this job is gonna kill me physically.”  Funny how today, in a sobering moment aptly placed my life, my perspective is once again realigned by reality.

Humbling.

I realize that many words have been written on being thankful for what you have.  Like many my age, I grew up with a mother who nightly reminded me of  “the starving children in Africa” whenever I had a portion of cold lima beans left on my dinner plate.

It’s an ugly part of human nature to complain about our circumstances  Things aren’t always right and don’t always turn out for the best.  During my period of unemployment, when it seemed I was doing all the right things, many nights I went tearfully to bed telling myself “you could and probably should be in prison.”  I struggled to gain perspective and find some peace amid the financial distress and pending homelessness.

Coming out of the holiday season, some of us have had the opportunity to gain perspective by taking a private moment of contemplative selflessness for someone less fortunate. I mean seriously taking a moment –out of the spotlight, without Facebooking your virtuous act–and just being there for someone else when only you and God knew about it.  Thankfulness is never fully realized until in the quiet of your heart in the face of another’s dire need, you reach out with what you have and experience that humble moment when you know your life is not perfect, but it is definitely okay.

Today, I challenge you to extend your grace to someone privately. Divinely as if the opportunity were appointed for you. Don’t post it or tweet it.  Hold it in your heart forever.

Feel the thankfulness and remember it.

You too, might be extraordinarily grateful the next time you are free to spend a day with your own son or daughter.

I’m eternally grateful that the judge somehow heard God’s voice of mercy a year ago and granted me the unmerited favor and freedom to enjoy Jennifer Lawrence today with my son.

I do hope she wins.

My shorts would taste awful.

LMSM,

Don

Christmas Eve

It could have gone very, very bad.

Christmas eve at the market getting a few things, the checkout lines were record length. I chose Lynda’s line because she’s always been helpful in many ways.

Fifth in the line of 10 or more , number 6 began the complaining. It was her rant of impatience looking for support in the ranks.

Nobody chimed in.

“I can’t believe…blah…blah” she continued.

As if we’d rehearsed it, we all began talking among ourselves about the joys of the holidays, how Lynda was our favorite checker, made light of it when the receipt tape ran out on number 2, the gift cards didn’t validate on number 3 and number 4 could get two more 12 packs, she said, for free on the promotion…and he didn’t speak English enough to understand her! Number 8 chimed in with a translation and we all laughed and waited for the box boy to grab the other two.

All except number 6 who stood there fuming.

No matter how busy this holiday season, keep your cool and keep your joy.
Merry Christmas numbers 1-10 and to our favorite cashier, Lynda.

abracadabra

abracadabra

and you woke up too early but you aren’t really too tired so

you redeem the time and get some things done you’ve meant to

for a long time.

and the coffee is just the right blend of creamer and sugar.

and the dogs hurry up and pee without you coaching them

and a call comes in from a longtime friend with no agenda

and it’s perfect timing because you have an hour left to kill before work.

and work isn’t all that much work like you thought it would be today.

It was actually kind of fun and inspiring

and you notice that your vitamins and breakfast really helped keep you going.

and you get off a little early unexpectedly

and your car isn’t making that sound this afternoon like it always does

and the traffic which should be nuts, just isn’t this time

and you get home to your pup who’s extra clingy and kissy

and you realize you have some pretty good leftovers for dinner

and there’s actually a good movie you’ve wanted to see on TV

and while you don’t drink, an eggnog and brandy sounds good

and surprisingly, you get the mix just right

and someone wants to play fetch again

and he wants to cuddle just at the time the movie is starting

and you don’t remember much of the movie because you fell asleep

and you dreamed you were flying

and you woke up and crawled into the freshly washed linens from this morning

and you thought how the day was pretty wonderful

and you curled up that pillow just right

and you notice

that what you took notice of today

is what happened

and you fell asleep.

Abracadabra.

It’s not magic.

It’s an Aramaic phrase meaning

“I create what I speak.”

When you begin noticing how blessed you really are and you search for signs of it through your day, speak them out and you will create a pretty magical day for yourself every day.

LMSM,

Don

 

Merry Christmas!

Thank you for reading my stories this year!

I’ve posted nearly 40 stories of my life in just three months time and have nearly 500 regular readers! Enjoy my two submissions for Christmastime and if you’d like to order a LifeMeansSoMuch.com T-shirt, email me at dondida180@gmail.com.

Here’s to a year of new stories in 2014 to make you laugh, cry and inspire you to live like life means so much!

LMSM,

Donpsg

your inner Rudolph

jesusrudolph

By now it’s possible you picture me in the early morning hours, clad in autumn cardigan, over an antique desk in a dimly lit room, peering through bifocals, gently tapping out stories of life between sips of chamomile tea and searching for words in glances over the sound of a crackling fireplace.

Actually, it’s 230am and I’m squatting over the coffee table in my boxers eating a leftover sandwich unshowered from last night, greasy fingers slipping on the keyboard between curses at my dog who wants a bite.

I will, however, turn on the fake fireplace to salvage a slightly better visual.

But Christmas is upon us, and I have something to say about it if I haven’t already ruined the romance.

I am a big fan of Christmas movies.

Each year, especially when my kids were younger, we endeavored to be the image of Christmas we all savor. A lovely little dinner, dad’s killer chex mix, the annual couch- cuddling, hot-chocolated viewing of Christmas In Connecticut and a sleigh ride in my little red car to see Christmas lights around town.

This year, the kids are, of course, older, busy with spouses, kids and work and general adulting and it’s clear the traditions which brought us close each winter may be slipping into memories as good things often do. I’m okay with it. My recollections of earlier years are still quite fond and full of life as I watch our movie alone, wishfully dreaming of the someday resurrection of our holiday tradition with my new granddaughter nestled warm in my arms. I still look a lot like Santa Claus these days and I’ll have a whole new generation to impress soon.

Thinking of small children, last night I again stayed up past my bedtime to watch Burl Ives’ classic animation “Rudolph.” I think I have watched it each December since I was a little one in my jammies on Christmas Eve before bed. There’s something about Rudolph that speaks to all generations. After all, he was different. Quite different.

The life and times of Rudolph narrated by the Burl Ives grampa voice assures us that while we are different, everything is going to be okay in the end. It has to be. It will be. That is the hope with which we both enter and exit this crazy world.

We meet other perfect reindeer along the way and somehow the sweetness of life gets burned. We find others who fortunately also don’t fit the mold and we call them friends. We set out on adventures together, meet abominable circumstances and push through with what we have, eventually to discover that what were once our misfittings, eventually become heroes of our own stories that will save the world.

In the land of the blind, the cross-eyed is king.
My own inner Rudolph lights up at this thought, reminding me of another misfit who was born to us we now call King. Okay, you say, he is NOT gonna compare Rudolph the Red-Nosed-Reindeer with Jesus.

Oh yes I am, right here in my boxers, I am.

Do you recall?
The most famous Savior of All?

I admit, that was pushing it.

But if you think about it, the entire story of the life of Christ was one big venture into a misfit world. Born of a virgin who traveled on a donkey for a hundred miles to be birthed in a manger among farm animals, he was all but banished to an unknown land, met with 30 some years of truly abominable circumstances…all of this so that he could be the salvation of misfits. He sees beyond our strangeness and provides love and a home for each of us in a non-conforming world.

Jesus is my inner Rudolph. He was different. Quite different. The light of the world for all misfits to follow, and for it, he went down in history.

Find your inner Rudolph this Christmas and your own happy ending story.

my Christmas tree

mychristmastreeframed

While strolling through the yard one day,
I veered a path just off the way.
There wedged amid three living greens
A dying lonely bush between.

And held within those vibrant plants
T’was there I glimpsed its noble stance.
First thought a weed but then beheld
The story told how it was felled.

How long ago it lost its way
But chance divine now helped it stay.
A mirrored image of our life,
And path we’ve journeyed pain and strife.

Now captured, held, and waiting there
This little bush received the care
Of three green friends who thought it best
To save and love him in their nest.

Their grasp held firm until this time
Released one winter morn I’d find
This weed was much more than it seemed,
I saw a noble fir redeemed.

Resurrected here in front of you,
A symbol of life was born anew.
Now rooted deep, adorned and given
A Christmas tree and a life forgiven.