Don’t give up on people

November 15, 2014

As I sit in the palatial global headquarters of the Chronicles, in the second floor penthouse of Casa de McCullough, overlooking  my neighbor walking his dog; I’m all clean and moisturized following my Saturday night bath, my Olivia Pope wine goblet full with a generous amount of the grape, I’m thinking back on the week that was.

It was a week that didn’t start well, but fortunately, it didn’t end badly.

I’m not going to get into the specifics, but I do want to touch on one thing that got under my skin over the past seven days. I witnessed what happens when a system that is supposed to help gives up on someone.Help

Someone expresses they have a problem, and the people who bloviate and bluster about being there to help, waste very little time casting the person aside for them to find help on their own.

We shouldn’t give up on people, especially if we’re placed in a position to offer so-called ‘guidance.’

If it’s your job to help, then help.

Several years ago, a well-seasoned office mate once said to me that it’s hard to lend a hand, when both hands are covering your ass. Such was the case this past week.

Of course, it’s in my DNA to seek a silver lining, and as I reflect on the past seven days, the bright spot is that I learned that there’s no shame in needing help, and there’s even less shame in asking for it.

I also learned that I have the capacity to help, and I bet you do to.

Help someone because in doing so, you just might help yourself!


November 11, 2014

It’s been a while since I’ve written anything about the world’s greatest musical duo, so I think I’m overdue. This is less a post about music, but more about friendship. In this case, it’s about a friendship that has lasted more than 40 years.

I came across a very nice photo snapped by Eliot Lewis. Eliot is the keyboard player in the Hall and Oates band. Every now and then, Eliot takes pictures during live shows from his post behind the keyboards.

This is an image of a couple of guys who have not only been friends for decades, but successful business partners – a pretty impressive feat.

Thank you Eliot Lewis

I’ve got friends. I’ve got good friends. But I don’t have friends who I’ve known and worked with for 40 years (I know – 40 years ago I was 10, but just go with me on this one!).

Who knows what the secret to this enduring partnership and friendship is. They’ve both gone on record as saying one of secrets to their success as a duo is building in enough Room to Breathe between the two of them.

Over the years, both have dropped solo albums (remember when new music was released and not dropped?) and other projects. In fact, at 68 years of age, Daryl has just opened a new supper club.

But, in my view, at the core of it all is the creative bond and friendship these guys have shared since they were college kids.

As a fan, it’s great to see and hear that these guys still make beautiful music together.

As a man in the middle ages, it’s inspiring to see a couple of guys several years north of 60 years of age still being productive, still looking great, still getting out there every night and – as the song goes – Do it For Love.

Fool’s Paradise

November 8, 2014

There’s a commercial for a popular cleaning product that features an older women who says that before using this wonderful cleaning tool she was living in a fool’s paradise for thinking that her home was truly clean.

I had never heard that expression before. In fact, I thought a fool’s paradise was located down the street from the Gangsta’s Paradise immortalized in song some two decades ago.

Intrigued (as I often am by trivial things), I went to Webster’s to find out exactly what is a fool’s paradise, and here’s what I learned:

Fool’s Paradise – A state of deceptive happiness, based on illusions or delusions

That’s pretty deep.

By now you might be asking why am I rambling on about this. Well, I’ll tell you.

A couple of days ago I was having a chat with someone pretty close to me who was carrying the weight of the world on their pretty formidable shoulders.

I attempted to provide some wise counsel along the lines of encouraging this person to refrain from worrying about things out of one’s control, and it was then that I said that I must be living in a fool’s paradise by believing that there is bliss to be found when we stop fretting over things that we can’t control.



Maybe I am deceptively happy. Maybe I am living in a mythical world of unicorns and rainbows. Perhaps I am blinded by illusions and misled by delusions.

Maybe I’m a fool.

Or maybe I’m just at a point in my life where I can clearly see that this life is way too short to worry about things outside of my control, things I can’t do nothing about (Double negatives are so effective in punctuating a points)!

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t spend my day walking around like a Don’t Worry Be Happy singing Bobby McFerrin.

I’ve got stuff – a lot of stuff. In fact, last night we…well, I’ll save that for another post.

I just try to channel my energies toward dealing with the stuff that is within my control. I don’t have much room for that other stuff here in my fool’s paradise.

If you agree, come on in – just be careful not to step in the unicorn dung.


Voting Patterns

November 4, 2014

I voted.

However since these pages aren’t about politics, I’m not going to tell you for whom.

On the way to the polling location, I thought back on all of the times I flexed my constitutional muscles at the polls. I turned 18 in 1982, and I cast my first vote in the race for Atlantic City Mayor between James Usry and Mike Matthews. To this day, I have mixed emotions about voting. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a hard fought right we enjoy as American citizens (especially those of my complexion), and I take it seriously. It’s just that looking back over all of the elections in which I voted, my reasons for choosing the candidates I did were all over the place – and they still are.

Didn't have these cool stickers in Jersey!

Didn’t have these cool stickers in Jersey!

My vote has gone to candidates I truly believe in and support (especially at the state level in the early and mid 90s), I (full disclosure) also voted for candidates who had a direct impact on my paycheck, and I  voted for candidates where I  – sadly – held my nose and selected between the lesser of two evils (and to quote Forrest Gump, that’s all I have to say about that!).

I voted as a resident in two states – well actually three if you count pulling the lever in New York as a Selective Service registered, Cold War, Ivan Drago concerned college kid during the 84 presidential campaign.  I have the fondest memories of working with candidates in my beloved home state of New Jersey (see that ‘paycheck’ reference in the previous paragraph).

The Flash is on tonight, and I have to see what Jimmy Spader is up to in last night’s episode of Blacklist that awaits on my DVR. There were years when I’d stay awake until the last vote was counted. This isn’t one of those years. I don’t plan on staying up to watch the results. In fact, I think I’ll wait and go old school and buy a paper in the morning to see who my next governor and senator will be.

It’s best that I end it here because my feet – crammed tightly into my patent leather Capezios – are sore from tap dancing around a topic I try to publicly avoid – because after all, do you really give a hoot about my political views? I hope not, because at this advanced stage of live and let live middle agedness I don’t intend to lose too much sleep over yours.

Happy Election Day!

Worn out

November 1, 2014

Remember all that talk about turning 50 a few months ago? All that welcome to the second halfblessed to still be in the game crap?

Well earlier this week I was quite alarmingly reminded just how old I am, or shall I say how young I’m not.

While suiting up to go make the donuts, I was in the mood to don one of my favorite ties – a very conservative (from a very conservative point in my career) red and blue striped number I picked up in the early 90s at Stern’s Department Store (defunct and sucked up by Macy’s) at Seaview Square Mall (shut down around 2000) in Ocean Township, NJ

Just like the hole in my heart!

Just like the hole in my heart!

Over the near quarter century I’ve had this tie, it has grown to become one of my favorites.

Sadly, as I was noosing up for a good day’s work, I noticed what I thought was a stain. Then, upon closer examination, I saw that the material was fraying. I’ve always been fond of a nice snug four in hand knot, and I suppose all those years of pulling and tugging (get your mind out of the gutter, please!) finally took their toll.

One of my favorite ties is officially worn out, and being blindsided by that fact first thing in the morning wasn’t pleasant.

But in the grand scheme of things, I suppose wearing out a tie is not as bad as wearing out a knee, a hip, an organ, a relationship, a career, or whatever else that is subject to the effects of aging (all of the above are holding up nicely, thank you).

I will not be defined by this worn out tie, nor will I let it stand as a metaphor for getting old!

I will keep eating right, work out often, moisturize daily, and strive for good karma – in addition to everything else my new friends say I should do as I age.

Besides, I still have a couple of my cool skinny leather ties from the mid-80s cryogenically stored in our basement

Smelling my youth

October 24, 2014

There are several smells that immediately take me back to my youth – and no, I’m not talking about the smell of frat puke (or other frat smells), or my wannabe mac daddy days bathing in Jovan musk oil.

I’m going way back to the single digits, back to the deep dark 70s, when I was a young, husky lad growing up on Drexel Avenue.

My grandmother lived with us, and she ran a pretty tight ship when it came to cleaning. Two of her go to cleaning products were Pine Sol and Comet cleanser (Yeah, I know, I don’t normally mention brand names in these pages especially since I ain’t getting a shekel’s worth of endorsement fees from either of these corporate giants, but just this once, for the sake of creative license, I’ll put my principles on the shelf!)

A while back at the kid’s school, I got a whiff of a familiar pine smelling product. So I asked the custodian (Because aren’t we all on speaking terms with our kid’s school custodian?) what he was using, and he showed me a commercial-size vessel of good ole Pine Sol.

Pine SolI was immediately propelled back to the days of my grandmother and her trusty mop bucket – old school galvanized steel, of course. Her mop wasn’t anything like the new-fangled plastic contraptions we have now. Nana had a well-worn rag mop – with a strong wooden handle that could have been used as a bo staff in the prison scene from Enter the Dragon.

I wasted no time picking up a bottle of Pine Sol, and it has been my go to cleaning product ever since.

(By the way, grandma’s cleaning genes must not have been invited to the DNA cocktail party that led to yours truly’s Cesarean entry into the world.  If I listed the top 10 things that make happy, mopping wouldn’t be one of them, but on a rare occasion I have been known to toss some suds around.)

I thought that would be it – no more memories of Nana’s fanatical cleaning proclivities, until one day at the 9 to (way past) 5, I stepped into the men’s room, and then I smelled it (no, not that). I smelled the oh so familiar chlorinated aroma of that magical cleaning concoction Comet Cleanser. Our loyal custodian had moved on to continue her appointed rounds. Undaunted (and clearly on the clock for too long and ready to go home), I walked around the office floor until I found – not our custodian – but her trusty cart of cleaning paraphernalia . With no one in view, I took a peek at the various tools of the cleaning trade, and there it was – not the powdered version of my young memories, but a high-tech liquified version.MLC Comet

Comet Cleanser was the enchanted dust Nana used in our bathroom – especially to keep clean certain areas stained by a young boy with poor aim. And if you’re keeping score, yes, in a feeble attempt to relive the days when I could get away with that bad aim, I went out and bought a can of Comet Cleanser.

As I said, housecleaning isn’t something that’s (in my Julie Andrews voice) one of my favorite things, so in the rare occasions when I do perform this chore, it’s fun to bask in the aroma and in one of the pleasant memories of young boy’s life.

Getting back to it

October 19, 2014
Where have I been?

Where have I been?

I can’t believe I’ve gone nearly three months without bending your ears. Excuses? That’s not really my thing, but if I were going to travel down that dog ate my homework road, I guess I would talk about my trusty notebook computer crapping out, or how much extra time I’ve been putting into making the donuts, or I could go on about a extra curricular or two I’ve been working on (Interesting how these factors played into my last unplanned hiatus!).

Again, I make no excuses and offer no apologies. Let’s just say that the Midlife Chronicles slid a notch or two down the list of my life’s priorities (yeah, I turn 50, start reading AARP magazine and here I am talking about life’s priorities!), but because I’ve missed our occasional chats, I’m going to hoist them back up to the top of that metaphorical to do list that I keep tucked away in that teeny thing I call a brain.

So here we go…

Or is it?

Or is it?

How could a blogger with a blog titled Midlife Chronicles ignore a decent Wall Street Journal piece on life in the middle ages? If you haven’t read this article, it’s worth checking out.

The Myth of the Midlife Crisis

It reinforces something I’ve been realizing the past 5 or 10 years that midlife ain’t so bad after all, or as the author says “…midlife upheavals are more fiction than fact.”

Looking back over the past 10 years, there really haven’t been any serious crisis to speak of (well, that lung thing, but I’m not going to count that).

The article also talks about the 5th and 6th decades of life as “time of re-evaluation and reassessment.” I like this way of thinking because – in my opinion – the middle ages are more about taking what we’ve learned and trying to making it work in the third and fourth quarters of this game of life.

Pick your poison…money, relationships, health. Midlife is a time to learn from the mistakes and missteps of our youth and armed with life’s hindsight, avoid those slip ups in the future.

Big digression…don’t you hate it when you log on to LinkedIn and you get bombarded with People You May Know recommendations from people in a field in which you no longer (or perhaps should have never) worked in?

Sorry, where was I? Oh yeah – midlife.

I’m enjoying my middle ages, and paraphrasing what I said five years ago when we began our little tête-à-têtes, I’m excited about reflecting on my life’s first half and looking ahead at the possibilities awaiting in the second.


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