Few subjects closer to my heart than that of the benefits of longtime friendships. I’m lucky to have a strong network of people I’ve known for many years. I hope they feel I do a good job keeping in touch.
I’ve been pleased with Facebook as a way to keep in touch. It’s true that on Facebook you can load up with people you don’t really know. But when you’re in contact with someone you have good history with, it does not take much to feel connected. Even a small exchange can make a big difference.
One can also call, write letters or visit with friends.
It is also good to know that friends we make today will in time be longtime friends.
A recent New York Times article deals with the subject of longtime friends. From the article—
“Researchers are only now starting to pay attention to the importance of friendship and social networks in overall health. A 10-year Australian study found that older people with a large circle of friends were 22 percent less likely to die during the study period than those with fewer friends. A large 2007 study showed an increase of nearly 60 percent in the risk for obesity among people whose friends gained weight. And last year, Harvard researchers reported that strong social ties could promote brain health as we age.”
We don’t give our friendships enough thought. We’re very centered on the idea of family in this country, and that’s fine I suppose, but people need as much support as they can find.
When we let old relationships lapse, we’re letting go of a big chunk of our time and personal history. The things we did in the past have value and connection to who we are today.
We would all be well-served to consider our friends more so than we now do. We formed relationships with these people because we liked them and maybe also because we had a place and time in common. These things mean a lot in an impersonal and fragmented world.
The video above, which runs just over two minutes, was made first for my friends to view. I’ve decided to run it on the blog as well.
The video is about how a friendship that may seem to exist in isolation, is in fact connected to the larger world. It’s about how we can apply creativity to our relationships and see that we are linked to each other in ways we may not always think about.
In some respects this video is a continuation of the theme I discussed in my first blog video. (Please click here to see that video.) I feel that if you speak to people in an intelligent and plain manner about day-to-day things, that you will find creativity and optimism.
The video above makes specific reference to my friend Tejal. Below is a picture of Tejal. This post is not so much about Tejal as it is about a larger point, but it’s great to be able to get her in the blog.
What could be more important than the bars you hung out in when you were younger?
There were three bars I spent the most time in when I lived in Cincinnati, Ohio. All my good bar days were in Cincinnati. I’ve lived in Houston for ten years and I don’t go to bars at all. In Cincinnati, I went all the time.
I enjoyed seeing my friends. And often I brought a book to read. Many places I went had a band playing and I rarely cared about the bands. I’m sure many of them were good. The local acts were often comprised of people I knew, and I’m sure they were good bands. It just never interested me. When the bands were playing and I could not talk to people, I would read my book.
There were three bars I visted most. One was a bar- laundry mat called Sudsy Malone’s. There were washers and dryers in the back of the house. It was Short Vine street in Cincinnati. Below is a picture of Sudsy’s from the outside.
And here is a picture from a show at Sudsy’s.
Now that’s entertainment!
Sudsy’s is now closed. The pictures came from a Sudsy’s Facebook group.
Another bar I was a regular at was just down the street from Sudsy’s. It was, and still is, called Sub Galley. I can say in truth that I was for a time “Mayor” of this place. Below you see a picture of Chris the bartender. This picture is also from a Facebook group.
I never could figure out the full story with Chris, but he was always a decent enough guy as far as I was concerned. Sub Galley was seen by some as a hangout for low lifes. I think that view had some merit.
The guy with the beard in the photo was Karl.
My last hangout was The Jockey Club in Newport, Kentucky. Newport is right across the Ohio River from Cincinnati. I’ve written about the Jockey Club before on the blog. It was the greatest punk rock club in all the world. The Jockey Club closed in 1988. The picture is from the club’s last night.
I like my life today and I miss my places from the past.
I hope you have some hangouts where you once spent your nights. It’s fun!…at least to some point in life it was fun.
With Valentine’s Day just around the corner, here is a poem to remind you not to believe the lies your lover tells you. (I’ve got a picture of a parrot up there because a parrot is mentioned in the poem and the bird is quite colorful.) is a poem written in India almost 2000 years ago. The age of the poem just goes to show you—Things have long been the same way.
Here’s the poem. It is called What She Said To Her Girl-Friend—
Once you said
let’s go, let’s go
to the gay carnival in the big city;
the good elders spoke of many good omens
for our going.
But he waylaid me,
gave me a slingshot and rattles
for scaring parrots,
and a skirt of young leaves
which he said looked good
and with his lies
he took the rare innocence
that mother had saved for me.
And now I am like this.
I’ve been tagged for one of these 25 things about me lists on Facebook. Vanity compels me to comply. I’ve not yet posted this on Facebook. It’s just that I need a blog post for today.
I like Facebook. It’s an easy way to keep in touch with folks. If any of the blog reading public would like to add a friend who is also one of America’s leading bloggers…..well, I can’t help you. But if you’d like to add me, my name in Neil Aquino and I live in Houston. Look me up and I’ll add you on. The more the merrier.
Here we go—
1. Anything good about me, or good in my life, is in large part due to my wife. Anything bad is my doing.
2. I’ve had four clear-cut best friends at points in my life. One is my wife. One was a grade school kid I’ve long lost touch with. One is just beginning the study of Chinese medicine in Portland, Oregon. I still exchange e-mails with her on and off. The final one is the only I can’t have a decent conversation with anymore. I’m appreciative of her friendship at one time in my life, but I don’t regret the inability to converse with her now.
3. Sometimes I wonder if I would be better off giving up the blog and writing a letter to a friend each day. I give a fair amount of thought about the best ways to communicate.
4. I work hard to maintain friendships across the years and across what are now often great distances. I’m mostly successful with this. Yet I have room to do better.
5. When we keep up with friends, I feel we provide our lives with a measure of permanence that offers a rebuttal to death. We are saying there is a source of stability in an existence marked by things moving away from each other. Longstanding relationships also give a greater relevance to the ways we’ve spent our time in life. When you have a friend for a long time, it’s evidence that you made a good decision many years ago.
6. I feel you can define family in anyway you choose.
7. I wish I had the ability to be an artist of some kind. I’d like to be able to paint a picture. I’d paint a picture of people in a way that conveyed who they are. I’m lucky to have seen in person Copley’s painting of Paul Revere in Boston. Below you see that painting. It’s my favorite. In this painting, Mr. Revere is both a worker and a thinker.
8. I wish I had the time in life to be as creative as I feel I could be. I could gain a measure of that time by the better application of self-discipline.
9. I feel that both the material events in our lives, as well as the thoughts that we think, all need context. Nothing exists alone. We need to know what came before and what may come after.
10. I think one can merge the public and private aspects of life in ways that give greater meaning to both. The two should not be divorced from one another.
11. I often wonder how one can combine a strong desire to be alone with a need to communicate. Hopefully, I’m able to do this in a way that is neither (fully) stand-offish or involves being around to much. (Though in truth, I’ve not yet figured this mix out.)
12. I have a good memory. I recall some things with such clarity that I feel the events I’m thinking about are taking place again. This makes me wonder that if man is the measure of all things, than does not the abilty to retain and relive our memories challenge some of our concepts of time? The past is present in our thoughts and as a guide to our future actions.
13. If each morning we could take just a few moments to assess our lives and our goals for the day, that would be an act of creation and imagination we could accomplish each day.
We could create time and time again. We could do so in a way that builds upon what came before, so that even an act of creation comes with context. I want to have the discipline to be able to do this.
14. I’m not convinced our leaders really believe most Americans have a viable economic future. At least in relation to how we have lived before.
15. I’ve never spent a night outdoors and I never will unless forced to do so by a bad turn of events.
16. Just because your life is very good, does not mean it is entirely the life you want. Expressing this thought does not detract from the good things in your life.
17. I’d like to live on an island.
18. I feel at home when with the wife, when at the ocean in Galveston, Texas, when writing, and when reading. I also felt at home when I was at a bar called the Jockey Club in Newport, Kentucky. That place has long been torn down.
19. Much about the practice of politics bores me. I did not like most people I met when I worked in politics. Though the time I spent involved in politics was worth it.
20. I’m proud of the fact that my name has been on the ballot twice. Once as a candidate for Democratic precinct executive a Hamilton County, Ohio. I was the only candidate and won with about 15 votes cast in my little voting precinct. That was, I think, in 1992. I got a certificate of election from the county. In 1997, I ran for the Cincinnati Board of Education and won about 10,000 votes. I finished 9th of 12 with the top four being elected. I was endorsed by Stonewall Cincinnati and by a number of unions. Beyond being glad I had not finished last, I felt that I had done well in the voting.
21. The best non-fiction book I’ve read is S.E. Finer’s three volume history of government. The best novel I’ve read is The Remains Of The Day by Kazuo Ishiguro.
22. I’d like to start volunteering somewhere. I have a place in mind.
23. I’m lucky.
24. I think we can balance a strong and autonomous personality, with the need for collective action in our political lives. What could be better than free citizens making the willing choice to work for common ends?
25. I’ll end where I started—Anything good about me, or good in my life, is in large part due to my wife. Anything bad is my doing
I’ve been reading Albion’s Seed—Four British Folkways In North America. This book was written by David Hackett Fischer.
Here is what I read today in this book about the definition of family in 17th Century Colonial Virgina–
“The word family tended to be a more comprehensive term in Virginia than in Massachusetts. Virginians addressed relatives of all sorts as “coz” or “cousin” in expressions that were heavy with affective meaning; but the term “brother” was used more loosely as a salutation for friends, neighbors, political allies, and even business acquaintances. It is interesting to observe that an extended kin-term tended to be more intimate than the language of a nuclear relationship. The reverse tended to be the case in Massachusetts.”
Fully understanding that this idea of family did not extend to slaves, there is a lot to be said for this concept of family. It’s an idea we can update for the current day. The broader the definition of family, the happier your may be. We are all connected in this life. The people in our immediate nuclear family may or may not be the people we really want around us.
Here is my post “People Have A Right To Define Family Anyway They Wish.” This is a signature post of this blog.
(Blogger’s note—This is a post I ran in 2007. I’m giving it another go today.)
Below is where and when in life that I’ve felt at ease and like I was fitting in with the world around me.
You’ll have your own list of where you fit in. Everybody has a place where they feel they are meant to be.
1. When I’m alone.
2. When I’m with my wife.
3. When I’m alone in a crowd. Such as sitting by myself at a restaurant reading a book or taking a walk along the ocean in Galveston.
4. When I’m reading. A good book to read is Winesburg, Ohio by Sherwood Anderson.
5. When I used to go to the racetrack. A racetrack is a place of such apathy that it would be hard not to fit in. I would go to River Downs in Cincinnati. I don’t go to Sam Houston in Houston.
6. When I’m riding some form of mass transportation. A bus or an airplane. I’m just one of the people leaving one place and headed to some other place. I like airports.
When I was in college, I took a number of long Greyhound Bus trips to see friends. Cincinnati to Reno was my longest trip. That was a long ride, but it was fun. I remember I was reading a history of Hawaii on that ride. I can’t recall the specific title.
The bus in the picture says it is going to Atlantic City. I got off a Greyhound bus once in Atlantic City and some people were having a fist fight in the bus station.
Though honestly, I’m not sure I could ride the Greyhound Bus anymore.
7. At the punk rock club. Those days are past as well.
8. When I’m talking to a waitress or a clerk at a store and no more is expected from me than courtesy. I’m good at courtesy.
9. When I’m with the few people in life I’ve come to know well enough and like enough to feel at ease with. It happens with different people for different reasons.
That about covers it.
Where ever you fit in, it’s okay. The person you are is (most likely at least) okay.
Longterm relationships, with friends or with family, give context to life, and, by offering a measure of permanence, provide a sense that death can be, if not stopped, at least resisted.
It appears that President-elect Barack Obama is going to select Senator Hillary Clinton as Secretary of State. Without forgetting that political relationships are about using people, there is a lot to be said for moving ahead after a hard fight and hard feelings.
Given this reconciliation between Mr. Obama and Mrs. Clinton , it is a good time to think about who in our lives we can move ahead with, past bad times, to a better relationship.
When we are in our graves, how will our anger and our grudges serve us?
(Blogger’s note–This is a post I made last year. I’ll be running a few repeat posts this week as part of my Thanksgiving blogging break.)
Thanksgiving is coming up. It’s a day we are supposed to spend with family, eating a large meal and watching football. If that’s what you do, good for you. You’ll get no argument here. (Despite my dislike of football and the concussions and long-term disability suffered by football players.)
However, for many, Thanksgiving is a different holiday than the popular image of the day.
Some spend the day with friends instead of family. Some are alone.
Maybe you don’t like your family or maybe your schedule or budget does not allow travel to where your family lives. Maybe you’re alone at this point in life.
Whatever Thanksgiving is for you, it’s your choice or your circumstance. Many popular notions and conceptions are as unrealistic as the menu above. How many people are serving pumpkin bread in the shape of a pumpkin? Or mashed turnips?
Each year my wife goes to see her family in Chicago for Thanksgiving. For scheduling reasons, I’m unable to go with her to Chicago or to my parents home in Cincinnati. Most years I’m fortunate enough to get an offer from a co-worker here in Houston for Thanksgiving dinner. I politely decline.
Instead, I drive down to Galveston and have a day at the ocean. I eat at some seafood house. It’s always packed and I’m always the only person there alone. I survive just fine. People are too busy stuffing themselves to notice I’m alone.
One year I did not go to Galveston. Instead, I went to the House Of Pies on Kirby Drive in Houston. I had just purchased all three volumes of Robert Remini’s life of Andrew Jackson. I had a lot of reading to do. I sat in that restaurant for maybe three hours reading about President Jackson. It was a wonderful day.
In the House Of Pies that day were gay couples and folks of all types. There were all sorts of people in, I’d wager, all sorts of personal situations.
All good relationships between people have value.
All people have value.
Whatever Thanksgiving brings your way, make the best of it. Life is not like what is shown on TV commercials and TV shows. Life is what it is. Have a very good Thanksgiving.
Hello blog readers. I had a plan for what I wanted to post today, but life got in the way and I’ll not have the time to do what I wanted. (Below–The sun rises and sets and time passes by.)
So please allow just a few random thoughts.
I wonder sometimes if the ease of keeping up with old friends via e-mail and Facebook makes it less likely we will try hard to make new friends. A new person seems a much less sure bet when the old people seem always near.
A dispute here in Harris County, Texas, where Houston is located, is about why Hispanic turnout was relatively low on Election Day. The best information I’ve seen on the subject can be found in this blog post at Para Justicia y Libertad.
New leadership seems needed for Harris County Hispanics. The old leadership has made little progress over the years. Also, the Harris County Democratic Party is not willing to do what’s needed to gain more minority voters beyond those most easy to get to the polls. The party has an idea of the voters it is willing to try and win. What it’s not willing to do is address questions of social justice when it can rely on, with mixed success, traffic congestion and hurricane preparedness as standard campaign issues.
I think you can find this type of situation in big cities across the nation.
I read a few days ago that the unsettled frontier democracy we associate today with Andrew Jackson, was always doomed to fall to the more middle-class and settled frontier vision of Henry Clay. We know that Jackson won the White House while Clay tried many times but failed. Yet you often never know until long after the heated battles of the day are over, as to who has really won the issues at the core of the fight.
Sorry for the absence of links. I’m on the fly today. Thanks for reading the blog and please visit often.
Who will serve in President-elect Barack Obama’s cabinet? There are many articles out on this subject. Here is a link to one such article. You can read it though it is the kind of thing that’s out of date almost as soon as printed.
One name not on any of these lists is former Senator, Presidential candidate, and Vice Presidential nominee John Edwards of North Carolina. He is not on the list, despite the good work he could have done on the issues of poverty that have been his focus, because he cheated on his wife.
Mr. Edwards cheated on his wife as she suffered from cancer and while he was seeking the Democratic nomination for President. I’m glad Mr. Edwards is not on these cabinet lists because cheating on your spouse is wrong. What if he had won the nomination and all this stuff had come out?
My wife is the best person in the world. I’d sooner swallow thumb tacks than cheat on her.
There is a mean-spirited initiative on the ballot in California that would prohibit gay folks from getting married.
There is concern that increased minority turnout in California for the Obama campaign will help advocates of this obnoxious ban.
Come on everybody–Life is brief and brutal. Let folks have the life and the relationships that they want to have in the short time we have on this Earth.
We all know Senator Obama would not vote for this ban in the privacy of the voting booth.
Discrimination of all kinds is wrong. There was a time when the most important personal relationships of black folks could be torn apart without consequence. Why would anybody want to come between people who just want to have a life together?
As Planet Mercury Is More Interesting Than We Knew, Maybe The Same Holds True For People In Our Lives
A NASA probe says the planet Mercury is more lively than people imagine.
It’s more than just a dusty black and white place. That’s been the image of Mercury over the years. Now we know that there is blue stuff (Above) on Mercury and that it was once a volcanic hotbed—
“Astronomers used to dismiss Mercury, the planet closest to the sun, as mere “dead rock,” little more than a target for cosmic collisions that shaped it, said MIT planetary scientist Maria Zuber. “Now, it’s looking a lot more interesting,” said Zuber, who has experiments on the Messenger probe. “It’s an awful lot of volcanic material.” New images of filled-in craters — one the size of the Baltimore-Washington area and filled in with more than a mile deep of cooled lava — show that 3.8 to 4 billion years ago, Mercury was more of a volcanic hotspot than the moon ever was, Zuber said. But it isn’t just filled-in craters. Using special cameras, the probe showed what one scientist called “the mysterious dark blue material.” It was all over the planet. That led Arizona State University geologist Mark Robinson to speculate that the mineral is important but still unknown stuff ejected from Mercury’s large core in the.”
Maybe as we learn that Mercury is more than we imagined, there are people in our lives that we need to reconsider. People may have previously unknown talents or insights that we have simply missed over the years.
Think about somebody you know and give them a new look.
I think everybody merits a bailout of some kind. People merit a bailout by the mere fact of existence in a tough world.
I don’t mean a financial bailout like we are seeing on Wall Street right now–though if you want to lend somebody in need a few dollars that would be fine—but just as a general matter. Everybody in life needs a break.
A bailout need not imply anybody has done something wrong. It might simply suggest that for whatever reason, things are not going as well as they could and somebody needs help.
I’m not saying that bad behavior should go unpunished. Or even unremarked. I’m not calling for an amnesty. ( Though if you are in a forgiving mood, you might want to consider an amnesty for somebody in your life you feel has done you wrong.)
A bailout could be emotional in the sense of reaching out to a person having a hard time. It could be about money. It could be helping a stranger in distress. It might involve forgiving somebody. It’s up to you to define. The kind of bailout I am talking about does not require an act of Congress.
The Wall Street Bailout is lousy. I think people both for and against the bailout feel it is regrettable we have come to this point.
But this does not mean that the larger concept of a bailout is bad. Use the idea of a bailout that we hear about in the news today as a starting point to a good act in your own life and in the lives of others.
We all need a bailout of some kind.