Another 25 Things about Me that You Might Not Know

Last week I stumbled upon a post of mine from 2014 entitled “25 (More) Things about Me that You Might Not Know.”  I gave it – and the original post from the year before – a fresh read, and decided that this blog needs another post on the same topic.  After all, a lot (or not much at all, depending on your outlook) has happened since 2014.  Oh, one more thing: I’m keeping politics out of it!

Another 25 Things about Me:

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2016: A Year to (Not) Remember

It has been four years since I made a year-in-review post such as the one you’ve just started reading.  But 2016 has been an interesting year.  I was promoted twice, took a few day trips, and bought a car.  On the other hand, my mom passed away, as did countless artists and celebrities, all of them before their time.  Additionally, my general stress level seemed to increase tenfold.  There have been times, during these last two months in particular, when it seemed as if 2016 would never end.

2016 highlights and lowlights

What a year it’s been!

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Onward and Upward: Four Years of Blogging

November has, thus far, been rife with disappointment.  On a personal level, I have slowly been making peace with my mother’s passing, less than two months ago, while weathering a relationship break-up that felt like a sucker punch.  Regarding the former, it took several weeks to even register the fact that my mom was gone.  As for the latter, I’ve been trying to assess what I must have done wrong, but am slowly coming to the conclusion that I will never know for sure.  All I can say is that I haven’t been sleeping well.

On the world stage – and for the second occurrence in my lifetime – the better candidate for the United States Presidency won the popular vote but lost the election.  And the other day, I logged onto social media to learn that one of my favorite mood poets, Leonard Cohen, had passed away at age 82.

At times like these, I tend towards the melancholy.  I spent much of yesterday doing some archiving and came across a few blog posts from 2013.  I realized that it was Election Day, 2012, when I moved to Mexico City and established gringopotpourri.com.  My blog has changed a lot over the years.  For one thing, the writing is better now than it was then.  Darker, perhaps, but also better.  The regionality of the content has also shifted from being mostly Mexico-focused to being largely Tennessee-focused.

To “celebrate” my blog’s four-year anniversary, I thought I’d share a few of my favorite posts for you, along with comments on how those posts either came to be or how they hold up today.  And as always: Thanks for reading!

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End of Days: Election 2016

trump-v-clinton

The 2016 U.S. presidential election is just one day away and it has come down to a knock-down, drag-out between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump.  One candidate is intelligent and experienced, but also corrupt and incapable of relating to the working class.  The other candidate is a liar, a braggart, a failed businessman, a racist, and a sexual predator.

Good times.

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Remembering My Mother

Ann M. Skinner, 70, passed away Monday, September 19, 2016.  Ann was born and raised in Chicago, IL, graduating from Maryville Academy and attended the Moser Secretary College.  She raised her family in Plainfield, IL where she was very active with her children’s schools and the community.  She and her family moved to Memphis in 2004.  Ann spent most of her career in the secretarial field, however, the last 15 years she spent as a telephone operator with Target Stores which she retired from in 2011.  After retiring she then relocated to Morristown with her husband.

She was preceded in death by her parents, Stanley and Alice Poterala.

Ann leaves her husband of 47 years, Greg Skinner; son, Scott Skinner; daughter, Shari Riley; granddaughter, Taryn Riley; sisters, Barbara Hanas and Jackie Nogle; and extended family members of various cousins, nieces, and nephews.

A Celebration of Life Service will be held at 2 p.m., Saturday, Sept. 24 at Mayes Mortuary with the Rev. Gordon Smith officiating.

In lieu of flowers the family asks for memorials to be made to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, 1311 Mamaroneck Ave., White Plains, NY 10605 or www.LLS.org.

_________________________________________

My mother’s funeral was yesterday.  The facts are summarized in the obituary clipping above that featured in Wednesday’s Citizen-Tribune; the paragraphs below are from my eulogy to her:

moms-service-1

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Where I Come From – Part Two

Last June, I published a blog entry that was near and dear to my heart.  In it, I wrote about my paternal family tree.  I first told of my grandfather, a WWII sailor, Middle East adventurer, Paraguayan coffee plantation owner, and Prohibition-era beat cop who fathered eight children with three different women.  I then blogged about my grandmother, an incredible cook who outlived three husbands and had a closet filled with identical-looking blue house dresses.  Finally, I introduced Loyal Readers to my father, a decent man and Army vet with an encyclopedic knowledge of baseball and a functional case of obsessive-compulsive disorder, the latter of which is simultaneously annoying and endearing.

But that is just half of the story.

Lincoln Museum 5

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Top Ten Life Lessons for My Younger Self

16th Street Mall 13

Roughly half of my blog posts these past few months have been top ten lists.  Alas, here is one more.

I woke up this morning* at the not-so-ripe age of 41, and to a plethora of Facebook greetings from friends near and far.  Social media has its ups and downs, but I must confess: it always makes me smile to receive birthday greetings via Instant Message, Tweet, or Wall Tag.

*Written one week ago but not published until 5/21 because of computer problems.  Meh.

FB birthday greetings notwithstanding, this hasn’t been much of a birthday.  Efforts by coworkers to invite me over for a night of card playing and beer drinking failed, through no fault of their own.  And I have been feeling under the weather ever since I awoke this morning to the fetid aroma of dog farts.  “What is wrong with me?” I thought, and then the answer dawned on me: I’m 41.  Holy crap.

Where does the time go?  It seems like only yesterday that I moved from Chicago to Los Angeles, driving cross-country with my friend Chuck and stopping off in Denver, Las Vegas, and the Grand Canyon en route.  But that life-changing relocation happened in 2000!  Likewise, I can hardly believe it’s been six years since I climbed Mount Kilimanjaro, Africa’s highest peak and the tallest free-standing mountain in the world.  For that matter, I can barely fathom that it’s already been two years since I moved to Tennessee from Mexico City with my tail between my legs.

I never really “got it” whenever I’d meet someone who entered a depression upon turning 30 and still being childless or single.  But my first day of my 41st trip around the sun has been something of an eye-opener.  I am tired, and I have seldom felt less certain about my place in the world than I do at this moment.  If this is just, as the saying goes, the first year of the rest of my life, then I should relish it.  But can someone pass the back pills first?  😉

Here, with a hearty dose of humor packed between the dollops of honesty, are the top ten life lessons for my younger self:

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A Concentration of Holocaust Horrors

Sachsenhausen 67

The winner of this year’s Academy Award for Best Foreign Film was the Hungarian drama Son of Saul.  In the movie, a concentration camp inmate receives special treatment from the Nazi guards because he assists with post-execution clean-up.  To be more specific, he separates the corpses from their gold fillings, eyeglasses, and wedding rings.

I haven’t seen the film so I cannot say for certain which camp the story was set in, but the premise seems in line with tales I’ve been told at all three “death camps” that I have had the opportunity to visit.  In 2000, I toured Auschwitz-Birkenau, in southern Poland.  In 2009, I visited Dachau, in Bavaria.  Finally, in 2012, I explored Sachsenhausen, in the former East Germany.  Three different places, three sobering experiences.

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The Three-Ring (Electoral) Circus of 2016

logos

It is the last day of January as I write this, and in just over nine months, Americans will be able to breathe a collective sigh of relief.  I am referring, of course, to the fact that the three-ring electoral circus of 2016 will finally be over.

The race kicked off almost a year ago with just one candidate for each party: Ted Cruz for the Republicans and Hillary Clinton for the Democrats.  The early bird gets the worm, as the saying goes, and both Cruz and Clinton have remained at or near the top of the polls ever since announcing their respective candidacies.  Soon afterwards, however, the doors to the clown car opened up and ever more campaign rivals emerged.  Some had more political experience than others, a few even managed to not come across as batshit crazy (at least not for a little while), but in general, the who’s who of candidates is a veritable potpourri of cray.

The 2016 Iowa Caucus is tomorrow, so let’s review, tongue firmly in cheek:

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Giving Thanks – 2015

Thanksgiving 2015-2

If you are thinking that the bird in the photo above can’t possibly be turkey, you are right.  That’s a Cornish game hen – succulent English chicken stuffed with savory long grain and wild rice.  This is Thanksgiving with the ‘rents, estilo-Casa del Gringo.

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