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I can’t help but look back and be disappointed

Posted in Family, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 26, 2020 by macmystery

Two years ago last night, I, along with my kids, spent the night in my new-to-me house for the first time.

That, in and of itself, was quite an accomplishment. It was already almost two months after we closed, which was also delayed. Both bathrooms were torn out at the time of closing. Finally, by Aug, 24, there was one functioning, finished bathroom.

The delay in being able to move into the house played a part in the decision not to file for custody of Dylan and Ella. That was a tough decision then and I still go back and forth about what was the best thing to do.’ (I’ve since filed for custody.)

I had closed early in July. I had hoped Linda and I might “rough it” in the house on the first night. But circumstance had other ideas, and I didn’t see her until after midnight in what would be a pretty crappy week before a really crappy week, which I now know was even crappier than I was aware at the time.

Despite the circumstances at the time, I was hopeful. I finally felt like I was going in the right direction and there were good things ahead. I was in love, I was hopeful, I was optimistic. And a couple months later it all came crashing down.

And I tried hard to save it and thought we had, for a while at least. But a couple of bone-headed weeks for me were the last straws for Linda another couple months later and that was it. Though, to be fair, I believe now it simply wouldn’t have mattered. I think she intended to do what she did for a while and I just served it up for her.

And I’ve been in a hole ever since.

I’m well. My kids are well, happy and thriving, actually. I’ve taken a second job editing a weekly newspaper and I love it despite the stress.

But if I told you I was doing more than surviving, … getting by, … I’d be lying.

I penned a Facebook message two years ago tonight (Aug. 25, 2018) thanking my dad and Linda and friends who had helped me get to where I was after the hole I was in a couple years before.

You can’t tell the people you care about that you love them too often. You should do it at every opportunity. You never know when you won’t get another chance.

I must have read that note 15 times today. But I couldn’t share it. Though I still mean every word in that note, I can’t put it out there.

Looking back at that day and that note, it’s hard not to be disappointed at how things turned out. And I haven’t been able to just get over it.

I know all of this sounds cryptic. But I just needed to get it out. It’s for me, not you.

Despite the disappointment and all the other emotions I’m dealing with on a daily basis, I want to repeat the sentiment of what I wrote that day.

I want to thank my father, William McCombs, without whom I would be lost. Without fail, he has always been there for me. Everything I know about being a man, I learned from him.

Despite how things went and where they are now, I am grateful to Linda. More than I can express.

And I’m grateful to Dawn and Bryan and Ken and Fran and Erin and even Mike, though I’d be lying if I said that relationship wasn’t strained, as well.

At some point, I’ll get out of the hole. It’ll happen. I know it will. But until then, I’ll be here at the house, getting by.

Back in the game

Posted in Family, Journalism with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 10, 2019 by macmystery

My first issue as editor of The Island News.

I posted something akin to this on Facebook a little more than a week ago, I guess, but I’m just getting around to posting it here.

The name of my blog is Raising Two Americans, a reference to my two kids. The subhead of sorts initially read “Tackling life as a husband, a father and a journalist.”

Funny thing is that in the almost 10 years since I started, everything about those headers has been shaken up.

I am not a husband. My wife informed me almost 5 years ago that she was no longer interested in being married. Of course, that’s no longer mentioned on the masthead above this post.

I am still a father, of course. How good of one I am, some people may call into question. But nonetheless, my children reside with their mother.

And, practically, I ceased being a journalist on Feb. 22, 2016 when I was laid off at my McClatchy newspaper. Though, in spirit, I have remained a journalist, even if I was not being paid as such.

(Working or not, I will gladly embrace the Donald Trump title “enemy of the people.” Opposing Trump is a badge of honor I will wear proudly until the day I leave this life.)

Currently, the top of the page reads “and former journalist.” It’s safe to say that’s no longer accurate.

I am now the editor of The Island News, a weekly newspaper that covers northern Beaufort County in South Carolina.

It pays but won’t pay the bills. It’s not a full-time gig. I’m still employed at Randel’s Lawnmowers Equipment Sales and Service to make ends meet. But it’s a nice bump.

And I’m back in the game.

The Island News is a typical small-town weekly. At the small end of the small-town spectrum.

There are a lot of community event pictures and rewritten press releases. But the new owners have goals of something bigger — filling the void left when the local paper, The Beaufort Gazette, basically abandoned its hometown.

And there is a lot of potential. But there is little staff.

Also, I’ll admit I like the job. Almost too much. While I needed a break after getting laid off, I will admit I may not have realized how much I missed the grind. It was time to get back.

Given the landscape, I’ll never get back into newspapers. Not in the big sense. But this job gives me the opportunity to play a constructive role in the community I have chosen to make my own.

And maybe one day, it’ll be more than a part-time gig.

But right now, it’s a positive. And given the way 2019 has gone for me personally, I needed it. It’s given me a little hope I have been lacking.

And a reason to change “former journalist” back to “journalist.”

Rakim, minus Eric B., of course, but not all by himself

Posted in Journalism, Music with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 26, 2018 by macmystery

https://www.npr.org/templates/event/embeddedVideo.php?storyId=622595890&mediaId=622597776

While procrastinating late Monday night, as I so often do when I have a viable writing topic, I found myself listening to music.

It’s not an uncommon activity in my life. A large percentage of my disposable income (and a lot that should have never been disposable) has been spent on music, not to mention my time, both disposable and indisposable, as well. Concerts, records, tapes, CDs, road trips.

But I’ll admit that over the last few years of my marriage, which LEGALLY ended in 2016, aside from time spent in the car, music had all but disappeared from my life. And maybe that should have been a sign. But that’s another story for another day.

Anyway, as I said, I was listening to music, something I do again, typically late at night. A strange mix … Dierks Bentley, the Cowboy Junkies, Henry Mancini, Metallica and Dave Brubeck. (I’ll admit, there was 10 minutes of George Carlin mixed in there, as well.)

I was listening to this strange mix as I put off writing something more substantial than my Facebook post from earlier Monday evening about former two-time National League Most Valuable Player and longtime Atlanta Braves standout Dale Murphy. Ironically, I’m still going to write that post, but it’ll be another day now, at least.

That’s because, while perusing Facebook, I came upon the New York Times story (How an Affair Between a Reporter and a Security Aide Has Rattled Washington Media) about the relationship between its reporter Ali Watkins and a man who handled security for many years for the Senate Intelligence Committee.

So, of course I was going to write about that. Being a former journalist — being a former journalist is like being a former Marine … there’s no such thing — the story presents some interesting and frustrating dilemmas during a time when the press is badly needed, as well as badly maligned.

And then Rakim happened.

Someone I know from high school, a lifetime ago, had shared the latest installment of National Public Radio’s Tiny Desk Concert. Featured for June 25, 2018 was Rakim, initially, at least, of Eric B. & Rakim fame.

I’ll admit it. Aside from straight up classical music, the least represented major genre in my music collection is rap. Or hip-hop, if you will. Old school Run D.M.C., some Sir Mix-A-Lot, Eminem, Kendrick Lamar … but not much else. A lot of it doesn’t interest me. A lot of it I respect but simply don’t enjoy.

I have read a lot about Rakim. But I haven’t listened a lot to Rakim.

But I did Monday night.

And I was treated to 9 minutes and 37 seconds of brilliance that maybe I wasn’t in the right frame of mind for 30 years ago, when Eric B. and Rakim were on top of their game. Kind of the same way I have a different appreciation for jazz now than I did as a young man.

And in a lot of ways, comparatively, Rakim’s style is jazz, at least vocally. His lyrics and voice are his instrument, and while aggressive, he is not necessarily loud and not in a hurry. Much as Willie Nelson brought jazz phrasing and guitar to his otherwise solid country gold lyrics, Rakim in some ways does the same thing.

It’s evident with the live band, rather than a DJ, backing him in the small NPR studio. The musicians are tight and work infectious grooves through three songs, allowing Rakim’s lyrics to shine as his instrument.

I was impressed. I had a moment, really. Usually, though, it’s when I hear something new that blows me away. I am admittedly not used to, at this point in my life, hearing songs more than two decades old, performed by the original artists, that pique my interest so completely.

My son, Dylan, possibly in the wrong place at the wrong time, can attest. He walked in the room in a moment of boredom after his computer crashed, expecting to wander in and wander out.

Instead he was detained by me and forced to surrender 9:37 of his evening, too, to sit and watch this Tiny Desk Concert. Not surprisingly, to me, he found himself, like I did, enjoying the video, foot tapping and hands popping.

The final two songs of Rakim’s three-song set, were “Paid In Full” and “Know The Ledge,” … classics and songs I will now seek out. But they followed “King’s Paradise,” a song released a few days ago and featured in Season 2 of Marvel’s Luke Cage on Netflix.

“King’s Paradise” is Rakim’s first new release in a decade. Suddenly, seemingly, I’m hoping it’s not his last.

R.I.P. Maj. Dick Winters, American hero

Posted in Books, History, Movies, TV, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 13, 2011 by macmystery

I first learned of Dick Winters’ death from a Facebook post by my friend Chris Otto of the York Daily-Record. He linked to a story Monday night from a Pennsylvania TV station reporting the World War II veteran’s death a week before. Here’s the Washington Post obit.

Winters became widely known, thanks to the Stephen Ambrose book and HBO miniseries “Band of Brothers,” which followed the E company, second battalion (Easy Company), of the U.S. Army’s 101st Airborne Infantry from their formation through the Normandy invasion and on through Germany’s surrender.

As a history major, I found the book interesting, but honestly, the miniseries, produced by Steven Spielberg and Tom Hanks, is where I, and I’m guessing millions of other Americans, truly came to know about Winters. It’s hands down the best television I’ve ever seen.

The book, culled from interviews with surviving members of Easy Company, is historically accurate, and the miniseries follows the trend of the past 15 years where filmmakers, instead of glorifying war, have tried to accurately portray the horror and savagery of conflict and illustrate the sacrifices of those who risked or lost their lives.

Winters wasn’t originally in command of Easy Company. But just like in so many other situations in the group’s story, Winters took the reins and led by example when he was called to. He was concerned about each and every one of his men. And his men respected him for it and loved him in return.

According to the Washington Post, late in the war, one of Mr. Winters’s soldiers, Floyd Talbert, wrote a letter to the officer from a hospital in Indiana expressing gratitude for his loyalty and leadership.

“You are loved and will never be forgotten by any soldier that ever served under you,” Talbert wrote to Winters in 1945. “I would follow you into hell.”

We’ve reached a point in our history where the people who risked their lives and served their country are dying off and leaving us at an ever-increasing rate. Soon, what little first-hand knowledge we have of the great sacrifice the men like those of Easy Company made to, not only preserve our freedom, but to defeat the powers of evil, will have gone away.

I’m saddened by Winters’ passing, but I’m thankful he served. He lived to the age of 92 before losing his battle with Parkinson’s Disease. News of his death, more than a week ago, was kept quiet at his request. He didn’t seek glory. He exhibited class, even in death.

Thank you, Dick Winters. Though you may not have chosen the label, there’s no denying you are a hero.

WTF has Obama done so far?

Posted in Politics with tags , , on November 2, 2010 by macmystery

President Barrack Obama

So, what the $@&% has Barack Obama done so far as president?

A friend of mine posted this on Facebook and I thought I’d pass it along.

whatthefuckhasobamadonesofar.com

If you don’t like it, so be it.