Polish Pool

So I wanted to get this post about 2016 written. But here’s my problem. Marty has me handcuffed to the bookcase; my bed doesn’t have a headboard. We were all set to take our relationship to a new level, but then she accidentally dropped the key and Monty swallowed it. So now, we have to wait about 24 hours for him to poop out the key before I can get loose. So I’m using dictation to sum up this past year.

The fiasco with the key seems to encapsulate 2016 very well. It’s like starting out trying to get a cheap thrill, but in the end, someone has to take a crap before you can find true relief.

Actually, 2016 held a lot of high notes for me. The Broncos won Super Bowl 50 and I became a life-long fan. It didn’t really surprise me that my loyalty would be tested so early. I knew this was gonna be a transition year, but who the hell knew we wouldn’t even make the play-offs? I guess Von Miller gets the last laugh, which will carry him all the way to the bank.

My former coworker gave me a beautiful and lovable kitty that I named, Mags. She is everything a cat owner could want. She is cuddly, uses her litterbox, doesn’t eat too much and doesn’t try to play with me when I’m sleeping. I wonder if I could train Marty with those same habits?

I also started an old-time radio podcast. For those of you who have listened, thank you. For those of you who have yet to listen, give it a try. It can’t be any worse than watching Real Mafia Housewives.

In September, I was honored to attend the marriage of my longtime friend Alicia to her husband Mark. Alicia has been through some hard times, but it really warmed my heart to witness as she and Mark gave their lives to each other before God. Life wasn’t so kind to my pal Wes, who was involved in a pedestrian vs. auto accident last April. His knee was injured and he’s still dealing with some PTSD from the encounter. He’s had about as much fun dealing with the medical and legal fall-out as a man would have taking a walk through Chicago without a bulletproof vest. Chin up, Wes. At least your Chiefs are gonna make the play-offs.

I was also honored to be elected as secretary of the Denver Chapter of the National Federation of the Blind of Colorado. Dan Burke is a smart guy. He knew the only way to force me to pay attention at the meetings was to make me responsible for the minutes. Does this mean I have to quit mixing Bailey’s with my coffee? I hope not.

Many of you know that I began a relationship with Marty Rahn about nine months ago. Marty has a tender heart, an agile mind, a courageous spirit and the patience of a teacher. I love her.

Sadly, this year has brought challenges for Marty. In May, she stepped into a hole at work while walking Monty and broke her foot. She had to undergo surgery to get a pin to reinforce the broken bone. During her recovery, she began to experience severe numbness and tingling in her body. After a series of tests, she was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis. The M.R.I. also detected three benign tumors; two on her carotid artery and one at the base of her skull.

It is a scary time for both of us right now. For the past two days, she has been experiencing intermittent dizzy spells. Getting answers from her doctors is like trying to go bowling in a herd of elephants. She has been prescribed Gilenya and it has helped, but we fear more surgeries lie ahead. All we can do now is ask for everyone’s prayers as we continue to chart these unknown waters.

In lighter news, I was accused of sexual harassment at work. There is no punchline. It really happened. My angry feminist coworker didn’t like something I said, so she ratted me out to the boss. I consider this to be a badge of honor. In this postmodern age of Donald Trump and Bill Clinton, I think we’ve learned that sexual misconduct is actually an attribute on one’s resume. You know how in the movie Ted, when the bear keeps getting promoted every time he does something naughty at work? Well, my boss gave me a raise this year. I can only conclude that he secretly approved of what I did.

I should feel guilty for writing that, but I’ll go watch the female Ghostbusters reboot and cleanse my guilt.

Speaking of Trump, I’m not going to write a lot about the election, mostly due to the fact that I’ve already written about it ad nauseam. I will only say that it’s dispiriting to me *though not surprising) to see Democrats willfully refuse to understand why they lost the election. The combination of a fatally flawed candidate, shifting demographics and bad polling lead most people *including me) down the wrong path. I did not vote for Trump, but I accept him as our president and am glad to see that the Republican agenda will have a chance to move forward.

Politics wasn’t all bad this year. In April, I had the chance to participate in the process by attending the state Republican convention. I’ve also moved away from most talk radio and have gravitated toward conservative thinkers who express themselves through the written word. For those of you who will need a strong dose of sanity throughout the next four years, read the National Review and the Weekly Standard. Conservative stalwarts like Jonah Goldberg, Bill Kristol, Amanda Carpenter and Ben Shapiro have been beacons in an otherwise gloomy populist landscape. And for those of you who think that all politicians are bad, please follow Nebraska Senator Ben Sasse on Twitter or Facebook.

2016 saw the deaths of many celebrities. The ones that peaked my interest were Glenn Frey, Harper Lee, Nancy Reagan, Merle Haggard, Kenny Baker, (aka R2D2), Gene Wilder, Holly Dunn, Florence Henderson, John Glenn, George Michael, Carrie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds.

Special note for Antonin Scalia, who’s untimely death high-lighted the polarized D.C. electorate. I’ll see you in hell, Fidel! Trying to rationalize with Castro supporters is like trying to play a game of pool against a Pollock. You confidently walk up to the table with your pool cue in hand, only to discover that the Polack is carrying a pool noodle.

Is anyone reading this a fan of the original Law & Order series? Steven Hill, who played the first (and funniest) D.A., Adam Schiff, on that series, died this year. Is anyone reading this a fan of the cop show, Homicide? Jon Polito, who played Crosetti, the first character to die on that series, also passed away. Also, a respectful nod to the memory of Curtis Hanson, who directed one of my favorite movies, L.A. Confidential.

In the personal loss column, Nehemiah Hall succumbed to cancer last Spring. He and I weren’t close, but many of my friends cared for him. I was truly shocked and saddened at the sudden passing of Ahimsa Wishneski. She and I were forming a friendship, all be it an online one. I hope someone finds that Merle’s gift card I gave her for her CCB graduation and puts it to good use.

Another friend left Denver in the person of Beth McGarr. My pal Drew and I reconnected in a heartfelt conversation at, of all places, a casino. Robin and I have also reconnected. Drew and Robin have reconnected. Special thanks to Katy for introducing me to the Joe Pickett novel series, written by C. J. Box. Art is still the best listener ever.

Many people seem to treat 2016 as if it’s a living entity. I don’t buy it. Life is what we make it. If you want 2017 to be better than 2016, go out there and make it happen. Don’t rely on external events that are out of your control to reinforce your happiness. This is a personal challenge I make to myself as well as everyone else. Happy New Year.

Monty is sniffing me and his whiskers kind of tickle. 22 hours until the key reappears.

Wait! That’s not Monty. Oh whoa ho ho whoa!!! Marty just found the feather duster. I gotta go!

One and Done

I was listening to my favorite radio talk show the other day and the host was interviewing a firebrand atheist named David Silverman. He was touting his new book, Fighting God.

Now, look…I am not the strong Christian I once was. I believe there’s a god. I’m not an atheist or even agnostic, but I’m not entirely sure humans have the first clue as to God’s true intent. We’re just too friggin’ small and he’s too vast. I can only say that it feels very much as if God has abandoned us of late.

But this guy Silverman came on like a Sherman tank, seeking to shred every religious person under his merciless treads. The basis of his message is that religion is a lie. God is a lie. Atheism is the only real truth.

Yes, I’m wavering, but he did and said nothing to persuade me toward his cause. I couldn’t help but notice how angry the guy sounded. Think about it. Here’s a guy who puts up a billboard that says, “Make Christmas great again. Skip church.”

Atheists are the ultimate purveyors of nothing. They work harder than anyone I know to promote the fact that there is nothing waiting for us on the other side. No reward. No punishment. No retrospective of life. We are truly one and done.

No wonder this guy sounded so angry. How can you pay it forward when the road ultimately leads to nowhere? But more to the point, his tone echoed that of every other atheist I’ve ever encountered. I met a guy a few months ago at a social engagement. He never asked me about my beliefs or worldview, but he couldn’t wait to start explaining to me why America was better off if we followed the policy of a strictly secular government. His tone was no different than an evangelist preaching at my door. He was going to convince me at all cost and if I didn’t believe, I was bound for the hell of ignorance.

Look, I get it. Millennials are turning away from church in record numbers. Organized religion is a manmade construct, religion breeds violence, God is a metaphor for male dominance, bla bla bla!

Therefore, what? If not God, then what? Or who? Sorry, guys, but “It’s all a big nothing,” just doesn’t work for me either.

In one sense, I see how atheism can be comforting. If you belong to the church of no, you’re taking far less of a risk than saying yes to something. The church of no is indeed seductive. No God. No rules. No consequences. No hope.

No thanks.

E Is For Elope

The following is a guest post, submitted by Lenore from Sioux Falls. Here she is, writing from room 209 of the Castle Hotel.

I will not add any preamble or post script, except to say that I am not, nor have I ever been married. If others with more knowledge or experience would like to speak to this issue, your comments are most welcome.

Here is Lenore:

Years ago on an old blog, Ryan posted an entry titled “The top 10 lies people tell themselves.” Inspired by that entry, and my own marriage, I am now writing “The top 5 lies told to the bride and groom about their wedding day.”

Before I begin, I feel the need to make two disclaimers. The first is, I acknowledge that I am speaking in generalizations. The statements I’m about to make do not apply to all people or all weddings. The second is that I realize the tone of what I’m about to write may sound as if I don’t favor marriage. Given that I am married, nothing could be further from the truth. I do indeed favor the institution of marriage. I would be remiss, on the blog of the conservative blind guy, if I didn’t also state for the record that I’m talking about traditional marriage, between one man and one woman. I stand in awed wonder that I’ve found someone I love enough to make those vows to, and that loves me enough to make them to me. Even as I type with my wedding ring on my left hand, I have trouble rapping my mind around this. In short, this is not an anti-marriage entry. It is, however, a commentary on the darker side of wedding planning, and weddings in general. So, with all that said, here are the top five lies told to the bride and groom about their wedding day.

5. “I’ll help you with anything you need.”
While many people do want to help, most want to help with the things that are considered fun, convenient for them, or that land them in the middle of the glitz and glamour of the wedding day itself. For example, people are quite eager to go dress shopping, stand up with a couple, or take pictures. However, when the couple starts asking people to help with running needed errands before the wedding, or to assist in the bureaucratic process of changing one’s name after the wedding, most family and friends will suddenly find reasons why they are too busy and don’t have time to help after all. The reality is that these things are not fun, not convenient, and there’s no glory for the person helping. They are the inconvenient and unglamorous necessities that come with a wedding and a marriage, but which the bride and groom may need assistance with all the same.

4. “I don’t’ want anything in return for my help.”
Again, most people are well-meaning. However, most also do, consciously or not, want something in return for the support they give a couple. This is not usually related to money. Perhaps it would be easier to deal with if it were, and if thanks could be shown in the form of some cash or a gift card. Unfortunately, in return for their assistance, people usually want one of two things: public recognition, or a say in the decisions that are made surrounding the wedding. When the couple doesn’t give these things, or doesn’t give them to a person’s satisfaction, drama is likely to occur.

3. “It’s your wedding, you shouldn’t have to do all the work.”
No matter how much work a couple is able to delegate to other trusted individuals, weddings are exhausting. The exhaustion seems to start about a month before the ceremony actually happens, and is at its worst during the days before and after. Even when other people are supposed to be the ones playing host/hostess, in the end it’s the bride and groom who are still responsible for ensuring that everyone else around them remains happy, appeased, and has what they need and want.

2. “It’s your day, do things how you want them done.”
I can’t tell you how many times my now-husband and I heard this line, told someone what we wanted, and then were immediately told why that was wrong and we shouldn’t do it that way. Even when the bride and groom give their reasons why they may want something done in a specific way, there is always some well-intended person who find something to criticize about what the couple wants, and thinks they have a better suggestion. This leaves the couple with one of two choices. They can stand firm and have their day as they wish, but risk the anger or hurt feelings of family and friends when their advice is not taken. Alternatively, a couple may cave in to pressure in an effort to keep the peace and avoid the drama, but give up having “their day” as they wanted it. In the end, it’s an exercise in strategy and tactics, and picking battles on a near daily basis.

1. “It’s your day, it’s all about you.”
The wedding day is, in fact, not about the couple getting married at all. Even the bride and groom initially try to convince themselves of this one, because if recognized for the lie that it is, not nearly as many people would put themselves through the stress of planning and carrying off a wedding. Certainly society tries to convince themselves of this, in part because it’s the lie that drives America’s multi-billion dollar wedding industry. The truth is that the wedding day is about the family, friends, and acquaintances of the couple. It is done to give those people something to attend, to remember, and to talk about. (Particularly remember, as the bride and groom will likely not remember 95 percent of that day, even when they look at their pictures later.) For the couple, it is about the end result, that they are married in the eyes of God and society. A big, (or even medium-sized) ceremony/reception is not needed to achieve this result. It is, however, seemingly needed for the rest of society to view a couple as having legitimately gotten married.

As stated earlier, I am not anti-marriage. Bottom line though: Eloping is a wonderful thing that I now dearly wish I had done, and would advise any couple who wishes to avoid stress and drama to do as well!