Sunday, September 27, 2020

Trip to Italy

 Dear Barry, 

     You missed a great trip! Matilda and Kenny joined me on another work trip, this time to Italy. We visited Verona with its Roman Arena and Romeo and Juliet's houses. We visited Padua with its 13th Century Basilica and university that dates back to 1222. But the best part by far was our days in Venice. That place is amazing! Especially when there are few tourists due to an ongoing pandemic. I've never been to a city where every portion is beautiful. I can say that it is truly the most beautiful city that I've been.The fact that it is entirely pedestrianised(other than via water) is all the more appealing. Even the grocery store was in an old converted theater! 

The thing is, though, it got me thinking. Why is it all these beautiful places have such sordid pasts? Our hotel was only a few blocks from the Ghetto Nuovo. This was the world's first ghetto where Jewish residents were forced to live(and locked in at night!). It's like visiting Savannah with its slave market. Another beautiful city with blood on its hands. 

Does this mar its beauty or enhance our understanding of the multifaceted nature of human history? After all, Venice was supposedly built by refugees to escape being raped and pillaged themselves and then it turns around and becomes the oppressor.  For that matter, is there any city in this world, or people, that haven't when afforded power, taken advantage of it at the expense of another? And can history be viewed from one act or the play in it's entirety?I don't know. That's why I'm writing you. You always have such thoughtful and knowledgeable answers that I cannot wait to hear back to see what you think. 

I'll just keep exposing Matilda to all the good(and some of the bad) this world has to offer and hopefully teach her that while there certainly is and has been dark moments, the brightness will always shine through. 


I've attached some pictures of our travels.













Until next time,


Danny



Thursday, September 17, 2020

Belgium-WW1 victim or perpetrator of slavery?

 Dear Barry,

  I am writing to you today from a bath in Belgium. Or a tubby as my family calls them these days. I don't know if I told you before I headed over to Germany, but part of my job requires monthly trips to Belgium and quarterly trips to Italy. Last month was great because Matilda and Kendra were able to join me. This time not so much. I'm over here by myself and it's a bit annoying. Have you ever had the experience where you enjoy so much the company of someone that when you're not with them, normally enjoyable experiences are less so? 

I know you have. I remember talking with you about Lauren and exactly this. So you know how it is. I'm here in an upgraded hotel suite with an en-suite hot tub, good food, and Belgium Trappist beers and I miss my girls. 

Okay, enough whining, that wasn't why I am writing to you. I was just writing to say I wish you could be over here and discuss with me all of the intricacies of world history. Belgium, the hapless victim of WWI and II, has a horrific history of its own that we seemingly (or conveniently) forget. The more I travel and experience in this world, the more I realize that this false dichotomy of good and bad or good and evil, is really just a way to make us feel ___. I don't know exactly to be honest. 

And that's why I wish you were here to talk to. I'd make the bold assertion that there's been no truly good or bad country and you'd slowly tilt your head, genuinely think of all the possible answers and then answer with an truly astute answer of the man who once with a 4th grader winning the Middle School geography championship. Or just a great listener and better thinker. Either way, I cannot wait to hear what you think about Europe.


Until next time,


Danny

Saturday, September 12, 2020

Next Year

 Dear Barry, 

  I was thinking the other day about how I miss our talks about music. More specifically, I miss my ability to bounce my opinions off you on the quality of whatever music I was currently listening to. Usually I'd be wrapped up with a song that I thought was particularly poignant and you'd kindly explain to me the formulaic nature of the beat and lyrics that evoked the same response as a Nicholas Sparks' novel with as much substance. 

  Case in point, there's this song I've been into for a while now, and I'd really like you're opinion on whether I'm onto something or if it's just a piece of ear candy that'll leave me with lasting nourishment. 




So there it is. I'll await your response but until I hear from you, I'll keep enjoying it especially as I think it could be 2020's anthem. So many races, events, trips, even marriages and political normalcy were put on hold indefinitely with this vague next year

Next year is such a conniving little beast too. Not too far away, it can easily wrap you up in the security of the almost without giving you anything tangible in return. Far too often, I've seen others(and been a victim myself) fall prey to next year's false promises. It becomes so easy to say, next year will be when I [blank} which gives you the comfort of near action with the satisfaction of having a plan while doing nothing and often getting nothing in return. 

Don't get sucked in! While it's good to have some future plans, we so often lose sight of all the little miracles of each and every day. As I type this, Matilda is sleeping in the other room. I can tell you, there's no easier way to stay in the moment than watching that little tasmanian devil sleep. I know you're pretty good at staying in the moment so I'm preaching to the choir, but I feel that if I write it down it'll be more easy to act on it every day. 

Next year hopefully will be much better for so many people, but I am not planning on waiting and plan to continue to seek out joy in each of these last few months of 2020. 


Hope you can too.


Until next time,


Danny

Friday, August 14, 2020

Fond Memory

 Dear Barry, 

  I was just thinking the other day about the time you went winter hiking with me. A normally 8 mile hike turned into 16 as we had to hike 4 miles just to get to the trail head because the access road was closed due to snow. 

My favorite memory of that trip was when you showed up at my apartment with jeans, a canvas jacket, cotton mittens and Sorrel snow boots. Luckily, I was able to get you some gear that I had( a little big for me and a little small for you but still fit(ish)). Totally unprepared for 16 miles of often post-holing through thigh deep snow and kicking steps into steep icy inclines in zero degree temps. 

Despite your total lack of preparation equipment and physically(you also mentioned that you hadn't hiked for over two years and was only doing martial arts for exercise) you managed, not only to keep up but also, to keep a positive perspective. Even when we ran out of water(or in reality our Nalgene bottle froze closed), totally bonked on the descent and fell through the ice as we crossed a river. 

If I were by myself, I would have been miserable for probably 12 of those 16 miles, but with you, it was just a fun day out in the Whites. I look forward to next time we can hike together. 

Speaking of being ill-prepared, I have a trail race in Saarbrucken in 2 weeks which is 58 kilometres long. I haven't run 58 kilometres over the course of a week in quite some time so to attempt to do that in 6 or 7 hours is going to be quite interesting. But I will pretend like you're running beside me and hopefully it'll be fun.


Until next time,


Danny

Wednesday, August 12, 2020

Live on Forever

Well hello there!


It has been a long time and a lot has happened in the interim. And while there has been a lot of good things that has happened in that time(hey Europe and upcoming baby!) there have been some seriously messed up things too. All I can say about that is be kind to others, recognize your own cognitive biases and privilege, and wear a GD face mask.


Moving along. I recently read an article about how Virginia Woolf kept her deceased brother alive by writing letters as if he was. To the point that one of her friends was fooled for years. I don't expect to be writing To the Lighthouse any time soon but I thought even this lowly blog could take that premise to keep a dear friend of mine alive and run with it.


As many of you know my long-time friend Barry passed away back in January, most likely due to undiagnosed COVID-19. I have been feeling so sad how I couldn't find a way to eulogize or memorialize him in any meaningful way-not even being able to attend his memorial service. So rather than eulogize him, I'm going to keep him alive by writing every blog post from now on to him as if it was a letter I will be sending. Living in Germany makes this trick of the mind easier as I wouldn't be seeing him anyway. 

For those of you not wanting to take part in this trickery, I recommend you help memorialize him instead by donating to a Go Fund Me account set up to get him a memorial bench. The current GFM account is set up for a bench on the West Coast, but it'd be awesome if we could raise enough money to get him multiple benches throughout the country in all the places his presence impacted. I can envision an annual Barry pilgrimage occurring. 


Okay that's it for now. 


Remember to be kind.


Until next time,


Danny



Tuesday, October 8, 2019

Well We Are Off!

In a week from today, Kenny, Tilda and I will be leaving South Carolina. Most likely for good. I took a position over in Germany and we will be there 3-5 years. After that we are going to try to make our way back up to New England.

South Carolina has been great in so many ways. Despite the crushing claustrophobia of close- minded condescension caused by Southern Self-righteousness and shade, I really am glad we were able to experience a vastly different part of the country. Top of the list of good elements was how close it was to my brother, Andrew, who I was able to see in the last three years far more than since I was in high school. I will probably miss that the most.
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Second most will surely be all the odd-ball competitions I was able to compete in. While my running times have  increased and belly ballooned, my knack for eating and drinking while moving has only improved. Here's a quick run down of some of the more unique competitions, I was able to compete in:

Beer Mile-1st overall(no chance of that placing in New England so I'll take it;))- Drink a beer, run 1/4 mile repeat x 4. 
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Quarry Crusher-ATL- 1st overall. Run down a quarry and turn around and run back up.

Stein Holding Competition - 2nd overall. My most recent competition. Hold a liter of beer with elbow extended, shoulder at 90 degrees for as long as you can. Longest one wins. I didn't but got a free beer and beer stein.

Beer-Lay- 2nd overall x2(both times crossing finish line first but losing after age-grading). Drink a beer, run 2 miles, repeat x 4
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Krispie Kreme Challenge- 1st overall x 2. Run 1 1/2 miles, eat one dozen donuts, run 1 1/2 miles. This race paid for itself with a year of weekly dozen donuts!
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Hairy Bison Trail Race- Never placed. This could be a direct correlation with having neither donuts or beer involved in it, or it could be the fact that the course is unmarked and Wrong-Way Ferreira is involved, but it is an amazingly fun(and funny) race put on by the good people of Harbison Trail Runners.

In addition to these competitions, I tried my hand in stand up paddleboard, kayak and rock climbing competitions, with middling success in them all. Throw in a few traditional road races, and excursions in a national park within 30 minutes of me, and that was time spent in the South.

Image may contain: tree, outdoor, nature and waterDefinitely a fun time.
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All of this in compounded  by suckering(err getting) married at the Outer Banks, having a beautiful daughter, and more trips and adventures than can be listed and this time here has been wonderful. I will be sure to update you all on where our next adventures lead us:)
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Until next time,

Danny



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