It does not exactly have the same ring as the classic line from William Shakespeare’s play, “The Life and Death of Julius Caesar” warning Julius Caesar of his impending doom; “Beware the ides of March.” I don’t have a soothsayer to remind me, I don’t need one, because I know the Ides of November – the middle of November – is a tough part of the calendar for me, it always has been.
Last Sunday was my birthday, I rolled over one more year, and I feel great. My birthday was a great time. W treated me to the Bears vs. Lions at Soldier Field. We had a great time. We took the train – the ‘8:15 into the city’ (“Takin’ Care of Business” – Bachman-Turner-Overdrive). Actually, it was the 8:53 and we arrived without fanfare just before ten. W read his book for English class and I read a book, too. Drums, Girls, and Dangerous Pie by Jordan Sonnenblick was just beginning to get good when we pulled into the train station. We caught the express bus to the stadium and we were inside watching the teams warm up before eleven. It was W’s first professional game. Even though he’s seen countless high school football games and a couple of Division III College games, the NFL experience is something to experience. It was my first time at Soldier Field for anything. I was impressed. I grew up on games inside in the Astrodome in Houston. They don’t play pro games there anymore, and I have heard they are thinking of tearing it down. Sad. The stadium is right along the Lake Michigan shoreline, America’s great inland sea. It was an absolutely beautiful day – clear skies, cool and sunny. The temperatures stayed in the forties and we were comfortable the entire day. It was Veterans Day weekend and the game was one of the games the NFL selected to be “Salute to Service” games where the league recognizes America’s soldiers, sailors, marines, and airmen. American military and national pride was prominently on display.
Then the game began. I am kinda neutral on the Bears, and W is too. O is the real Bears fan, but she was at home. The Bears scored in the first three minutes and in retrospect, that was their highlight. It was a good game and it came down to the wire, sort of. In my last post, I ranted about poor fan behavior at football games and leaving before the end of the game. I vowed to stay to the end and I was not disappointed. The Lions scored a touchdown with a bit more than two minutes left in the game to lead 21-13. At that point, fans began to leave. W looked at me and smiled – he had heard me shouting (ranting) at the fans at the game last Friday night – and he just shook his head. The Bears switched quarterbacks and drove the ball down to the field to score a touchdown and come within two points with less than a minute to go. The two point conversion failed and the game ended moments later with the Bears coming up short 21-19. It was a good first game for W.
We caught the bus and rode back to the train station for the ride home. I struck up a conversation with a guy on the bus. It turned out it his sister is a teacher at my school and he went to high school with one of the few male teachers we have in my school building. It’s a small world. It was dark when the train pulled out of the station and I quickly fell asleep. It was a nice nap. I asked W if I had snored and he shook his head signaling that I had been silent. We were home before six with dinner. It was a good day.
Monday, the next day, was Veterans Day. I was off, no school for me, but my kids had school. They always do. For some reason, my school district believes we should have it off, but I disagree. I attended the Veterans Day ceremony at O’s school. It was a nice ceremony, it always is. Seeing the elementary students thanking the veterans attending – mostly grandparents, uncles, and a few parents for their service or current service to the military.
I always think of my dad on Veterans Day. I follow the American Battle Monuments Commission on Facebook; it operates the American military cemeteries, which are overseas. I noticed they had posted a picture of re-enlistment ceremony at the Marine Memorial in Belleau Wood. In addition to November 10 being my birthday, it is also the birthday of the United States Marine Corps, their 238th. My dad served in the Marines and he was always proud that I shared the birthday with the Marines. I passed it on to my step-mom in Mississippi to share the memory. I showed it to O and pointed to the tree line where we had spread my dad’s cremains three years before.
The middle of November is tough, not because of my birthday or Veterans Day, because it is the time in the year when the weather cools, starts to resemble winter, and the days shorten. Sunday November Tenth was exactly ten hours long; today – on Saturday, six days later we have nine hours and forty-seven minutes of daylight. That makes it kind a dreary. Monday afternoon it snowed, coating the lawn and the bushes but sparing the street, the driveway, and the sidewalk. Tuesday was sunny, but I was not. I stayed home from school and saw the doctor. I took in a morning and afternoon nap and was in bed by ten. Wednesday was the last day of parent-teacher conferences. We had a day and a half of conferences the previous week and another half day of conferences scheduled after school Wednesday evening. Conference time is always interesting and it makes for a long day. Thursday was a cold frosty morning and I watched the sunrise on my way to school. My route takes me along a forest preserve with a stand of trees and a prairie. I could see the sun through the trees and shadows it gave me the energy I needed to make it through the day. I could hear the strains of John Denver strumming and singing “Sunshine on My Shoulders” in my head – it made me smile. Friday was over and gone before I knew it. It was a busy day beginning with the fall school-wide student recognition breakfast. Friday’s classes went quickly and the sunset before I could blink.
At dinner Friday night, we planned the weekend, talking about what we needed to do and what we wanted to do – they are always a different list. We discussed yard cleanup and a few chores around the house. We talked about Thanksgiving Break – my kids have a week before their break begins and they have the entire week off. I have to teach the Monday and Tuesday before Thanksgiving. We talked about the weekend weather and how it was going to be stormy, especially Sunday.
It’s Saturday morning and it’s dreary, again. It feels like November. There is a mist in the air, it’s not quite rain, and it’s certainly not dry, just damp. W is at wrestling, I am writing, Ivy is looking out the window, growling, B and O are still sleeping, and the leaves are still there, just wet and getting wetter. The leaves will have to wait until next weekend before I get outside and finish the cleanup. Until then, I will work on MOVEMBER and growing my MO – my moustache is growing in and looking, well like a moustache – and ALL my other jobs – husband, father, teacher, and dog-owner and the others.
Dreary or not, it’s gonna be a great day. I’ll find a way to get the most out of the nine hours and forty-seven minutes of daylight I have and Make the Day Count. November is the reminder that December is coming and so is the end of the year. Beware the ideas of November is the reminder I have to focus on what’s left of November and keep Making it Count. Making the Days Count, one day at a time, one-half at a time.
How is your MO? What are doing in the last half of MOVEMBER to make it count?