Selling Insurance

Not much of a “ring” to insurance salesman. Writer is more romantic and sounds better. The latter doesn’t always deliver and leave you flush with ka-ching—or with any cash at all, for that matter.

The fall has been a blur. Readying a house for sale and then closing on the domicile that was your home for half of your life is a big change. So is acclimating to a new town. Of course that’s just part of the story. I also decided in August to become a volleyball ref, followed by enrolling in an online course designed to prepare me to pass the state exam leading to getting licensed to sell insurance. Yes, the cares of this world have been right there in my face each and every day for the past three months. Sorry if I haven’t returned an email or your phone call.

Can I be totally honest here? There were many mornings during the past three months when I just wanted to stay in bed, rather than get up and turn off the alarm clock when it went off at 4:00 am so I could shoehorn studying into what was my usual get-out-of-bed and brew some coffee period of the morning before shuffling of to work time. But as they say, sometimes perseverance pays off.

Driving into Westbrook yesterday prior to my scheduled Maine Life, Accident & Health Producers exam set for 8:00 a.m., I tried to steer my mind clear of any craters of negativity or sinkholes filled with anxiety. WMPG playing some vintage John Coltrane kept me focused on the road and task looming ahead.

Whole life, or term?

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Life Isn’t a Movie

If you’re a sucker for what some consider a better time in America, especially viewed through the lens of nostalgia, then arguably, there may not be a better movie at this time of year than It’s A Wonderful Life. The final 8 minutes could be one of the best holiday segments of any movie ever made.

But life lived in the real world rarely follows the tried and true formula of a Hollywood script. As much as we adore George Bailey and root for him each and every year when we watch the movie, yet again, people these days are rarely that concerned about others in their own families—let alone someone from their hometown—like the people gathered at the Bailey residence in Bedford Falls.

It’s easy this time of year to become wishful, longing for a time that we might consider better than the America we’re living in today. That was surely part of the appeal of Donald Trump’s slogan, “Make America Great Again,” even if it’s looking more and more like it will be nothing but empty words for most. Continue reading

People and Corporations

We hear a lot of lip service paid to cracking back on corporations. People generally seem to dislike corporations—except when they’re supplying a paycheck, or often, cheap, substandard products manufactured offshore, by exploited workers.

Corporations have more rights now than ever before. In fact, the Supreme Court has broadened the concept of “corporate personhood” considerably over the past decade.

Candidates for president say the darndest things.

Candidates for president say the darndest things.

Mitt Romney, when running for president in 2012, actually came out and said explicitly, “corporations are people.” Justice John Paul Stevens would disagree, as he did in his dissent in the Citizens United case:

[C]orporations have no consciences, no beliefs, no feelings, no thoughts, no desires. Corporations . . . and their “personhood” often serve as a useful legal fiction. But they are not themselves members of “We the People” by whom and for whom our Constitution was established. Continue reading

Learning About Tides

I doubt most people pay any attention to tides, both low and high. Until about three weeks ago, I rarely consulted a daily tide calendar. Perhaps if you dig clams, or work along the waterfront, tides are old hat to you.

A mere three years ago, Mary schooled me about the Maine Tide & Everyday Calendar (probably available at one of Maine’s finer local bookstores). She started keeping one in her RAV4, in order to know when some of the various local tidal bodies of water would be experiencing high tide, so we could do some open water swims to prepare for that summer’s OOB triathlon.

Spending your life lived away from the coast save for an occasional beach outing renders you unprepared for that day when you wake up a mere stone’s throw from a picturesque cove, a tidal one at that.

Love my cove at high tide.

Love my cove at high tide.

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Not Quite As Dark

It’s been awhile since I felt excitement coming home after work. No, I’m not sick of my wife of 34 years, and I have no intention of parting ways.

Actually, for the past several years, I’m usually the one who has been working at home, or coming home long before Mary arrives from her job, or evening workout with SheJAMS.

I adore the cat we added to our home slightly more than a year ago. Lucy is always happy to see me, whenever I return.

This time of year, when I’ve put away my umpiring gear (and volleyball referee’s whistle), as well as hung up the road bike for the season, the approach of darkness has elicited something akin to that claustrophobic feeling that makes breathing difficult.

We are now in week two in our new house. As we unpack the assorted boxes and crates and begin rearranging things into something that feels like home again, returning home after work elicits anticipation and a thrill as I head towards our place by the cove.

Yes, December is the darkest month, but this year, it doesn’t seem as bleak as years past. A new town and a new place to call “home” has a lot to do with that.

The Sweater

I’ve written about the place where I grew up. Various arcs incorporated baseball, my personal recollections about the town from an earlier time—as well as creating my own take on Moxie.

I once contemplated updating the history of the place, post-Plummer. I’m glad I didn’t bother breaking that rock, fashioning it into a story; the scenario of a significant investment of time and research without much of a return seems likely for that kind of project—people no longer seem to appreciate the necessary effort required to dredge up the past, and get at what’s behind the façade of the place where they reside.

After 26 years of living across the river from the place where I was born and put down my initial roots, just moving one community to the east feels just about right to me—actually, somewhat overdue. If my writing emanates from place (which I think it does), then my new home proffers up all kinds of new opportunities and material to mine.  I’m looking forward to learning more about a place I’ve observed as an outsider and semi-regular visitor.

But it is the holiday season. A period each year-end that delivers a personal mix of sentimentality, sadness, and even anger thinking back on Christmases past. Despite Perry Como’s musical refrain that there’s “no place like home for the holidays,” I’m apt to demur. Continue reading

New Rhythms

After 26 years, living somewhere else means learning new routines and local mores.

Our first weekend was a successful one. The house is starting to feel like our own. Miss Mary has the kitchen set-up and we’re working on the rest of the living (and storage) space.

It obviously doesn’t take much to make me happy. A visit to public works and picking up my brand new recycling bin was Monday’s highlight. Trash and recycling pick-up are still Thursdays for us, too, just like in Durham.

Nothing says "welcome to town" like a brand new recycling container.

Nothing says “welcome to town” like a brand new recycling container.