#30DaysOfThanks . . .

Twitter is abuzz with three things these days: 1) Politics 2) Sports 3) People being "thankful." The infamous "hashtag" gets a polite overhaul as people cite one thing they are thankful for each day for 30 straight days. I try to keep my politics to myself (he says with an attempted straight face). I can't stand sports. I'm too distracted to spread my appreciation over 30 days while ensuring one thing per day and no repeats so - inspired (as per general) by my friend Katie Grover - I decided to get all 30 things over with at once.

1) My Daughter. It is sorta' trite to be publicly thankful for your kids but, in my case, being a father has forced me to be humble, patient, caring, kind, and good at counting by 2s, 3s, 5s, and 10s. I don't know that I'm the best father in the world but I know I'm the best man I can be in this world because I am a father.

2) Family. I'm not an easy person to love. I deeply resent the effort people put in to it, frankly. But I have a mother and father who have always put in the work, endured my push back, celebrated my growths, and encouraged me more than I deserve. They humble me and I hope to be a fraction of the Parent (big P) they show it is possible to be. My two brothers are also great men who have done their best to love me and have, in the meantime, found women who love them.

3) Board Games. Every spend an hour or two over a kitchen table with a piece of cardboard and some plastic pieces laid between you and a friend, or two, or six? Did you add some food and beverage? If so - you know exactly what I am talking about. People. Challenge. Friendly competition. Laughter. Connect4!

4) Old Friends. I miss you all. I'm coming for you. I appreciate all your thoughts, prayers, love, and support. Always have. Always will.

5) Judaism. Thousands of years of people being put upon, enslaved, tortured, killed, generally resented, and chastised. All for having an unwavering faith in G-d, a strong commitment to their community, and a willingness to accept their roles and responsibilities to the community. Also - for having an amazingly beautiful culture over which the religion is laid and has evolved. Shalom.

6) Mix "Tapes". I've got 11,375 songs on iTunes and a dud ain't one. If I have NOT made one of the 74 mixes I've put together in the last few months for you - drop me a note. I'll rectify that immediately.

7) New Friends. There is a wonderful moment in a life crisis where you realize that you are not alone and you have wonderful people all around you that support you, make you laugh, challenge you, and, if you play your cards just right, give you hugs, kisses, and affections to buoy you. I appreciate that crap out of people lately. Just don't bother to "love" me (you've been collectively warned (smile))!

8) Literacy. I am currently reading nine books NOT including the Torah. I have seven more books in the active "to read" pile and 30 or 40 more books that I want to get through. Can you imagine not being able to read? To not be able to escape in to pages and the adventures of other people? That would suck. You'd have to get cable or a case of bourbon to make it through.

9) Boobs. I'm not going to tell you why - you either get it or you don't. Either way - good for you!

10) Music. Specifically Adele, The Civil Wars, Freelance Whales, Philip Glass, and "Nightswimming" by R.E.M. lately. I listen to music at least three or four hours a day and I can not imagine not having music to get me through the days and the evenings. I am even playing my flute and singing to myself in the shower and car again. I apologize if you ever overhear either.

11) Mental Health Professionals. This will shock you all but I'm in counseling and I could NOT be happier (this time). I have been on and off shrink couches most of my life and this is the first time I don't take it as a chore or a negative. I may even make progress one of these days. If not - please come visit me at Batshitcrazy Acres and be gentle with your touch. The electroshock can be hard on the skin.

12) Work. I love to work. Always have, always will. I like the pressure of earning (and providing true value for) a paycheck and I like being around people who are smart, engaged, inspired, and diligent. It doesn't hurt that I truly enjoy my colleagues but, at its core, I spend 55 - 60 hours a week doing something I truly love with fun people and that opportunity makes me a better thinker and person. What's not to be thankful for?

13) Hummus and Cheez-Its. You gotta' eat so at least let it be stuff you love, right?

14) Sleep. The best chance we get, daily, to slip away from whatever is right or wrong and just shut it all down. On a GOOD night, we dream. On a GREAT night, those dreams are positive and encouraging.

15) KMUW-FM. I love my public radio station and the people who work there are all fantastic. Truly. I don't have cable. I don't get the newspaper. I spend very little time on "news" websites and Twitter is not exactly the world's best place for staying up to speed on the world around you so I listen to KMUW often and with great intent.

16) Penny Loafers. In a world full of shoes, I'm thankful for my eight pair of penny loafers and the fact that so few Kansans wear them that I can somehow be "unique" in one of the most common ways to cover your feet in the world today. To clarify - I have one penny (not even a set) across my sixteen penny loafers. On the left shoe of my cordovan leather soles. It was the first penny I found on the streets of DC when I moved there for my internship and graduate school.

17) Honesty. I am a blunt person with no hesitations to share opinions (solicited or otherwise). I rarely hold back and I don't sugar coat stuff but I have been less than honest about a lot of "little" things for a long time. I'm not a LIAR in any way but I've stretched the truth a lot about how I'm doing and what is going and the last 90 - 120 days or so have been all honesty, all the time. This is jarring to some especially as relates to how I am doing (rarely do you get a simple "well" when you ask) but - people have been very accommodating and I appreciate that.

18) Confidence. My parents raised me right. I know too many people who don't believe in themselves, their talent, their intelligence, their appearance, or their whatever. I have never had these hang ups. Sure there are times I'm not 100% "on" but - I'm at least PRESENT 100% of the time and that is saying something.

19) Netflix on the Roku. I don't have cable. My Roku makes that just fine. I've consumed EASILY 1,000 hours of Roku time in the last year. And I'm FINE with that.

20) Sidewalks. I have gained a LOT of weight in the last year (things I am NOT thankful for is another list for another time). But I'm aware of it. I own it. And - best part - I am doing something about it. WALKING. Miles at a time, ideally. I walk on my own, with my friend Juliann, with other friends or with random strangers who happen to walk at the same time, in the same place, and at the same pace. Honk if you see me, people!

21) The Hours. DVD, book, and score. DVD is easy and if you've not seen it - for shame! You will cry and cry and cry. Or that is just me. The book is actual work but WORTH it. Great read. The score is fantastic and makes me super happy and puts a tingle in my dingle too (you've been warned).

22) Joy. Let me be very direct and clear about this . . . Joy is an amazing woman. She's smart, funny, caring, dynamic, talented, and exciting. We did not make it as a husband and wife. There's been hurt feelings, poor decisions, and spilled milk. I would be a fool, liar, and disingenuous man if I didn't give her FULL credit for changing the way I viewed the world, saw my life playing out, engaged with people and relationships, and how I continue to feel about love, shared lives, and what it means to be "present." I might not even be alive today and I'm certainly not a father and professional today without her. I am thankful for every minute Joy and I have shared. Even the shitty ones. And there have been LOTS of those these last few years.

23) Werewolf. Thanks to Denise Bruce and her art gallery home full of her crew of smart, funny, cynical, welcoming friends (including moderator extraordinaire Nick Jungman) and delicious food and beverage, my life is forever changed for I have played Werewolf. It may be the most fun I've had criticizing, questioning and otherwise harassing

24) Hebrew. Want to feel challenged in this life? Try to learn a new language at the age of 36. One that reads from right to left, that has no connection with the very comfortable Romance languages and that uses characters and symbols you're not familiar with all while making your tongue dizzy. And you will be THANKFUL that you have the ability to be so challenged and by your own choice.

25) Crayons. I own 2.450 of them. That's a real number. I have them in my desk, in my laptop bag, in my car, in my apartment, at the house, and I give them as gifts so they might be where I go. Give me a fresh 24 box, a piece of paper, and three minutes of peace and quiet and I'm better for it.

26) Tea. Iced. Hot. Luke warm. Splenda-enriched. Straight up. In a mug. In a foam cup. Flavored. Green, white, black, red. Whatever you got - pour it. I'll take it! And LIKE it.

27) My Little Apartment. 400 square feet of peace, tranquility, drafts, out-of-code heating units, and a space that is fantastically "mine." With exception to the 50% of the time Ava is with me, this is the first time I've ever lived alone in my entire life. I see why you people enjoy it so much. I'm thankful for the time alone.

28) The Warren Theatre. $10 and two free hours is all you need to escape this world. It'll be $30 more if you want any food or beverage on your adventure. On the "must see" list for the coming months are A Late Quartet, Les Miserables, Hyde Park on Hudson, Rise of the Guardians (I'm a dad, leave me alone), and Holy Motors (because random, random movies make me happy (see Beasts of the Southern Wild (a beautiful movie that I enjoyed very much))).

29) Tattoos. Not for me (obviously) but for all you nut jobs out there that love anything enough to get it permanently inked in to your flesh. The world needs more things that are permanent (and or removable only with lasers).

30) Etsy. I spend WAY too much time on Etsy. It reminds me how much creativity there is in the world and how beauty/art is in the eye of the beholder. Also that "hipsters" are super, super annoying and gaining ground on the rest of us.

There you have it. 30 things I am thankful for. No fluff, no additives, no parabens. Hope you find some time this month (daily or all at once) to focus on what you are thankful for.