On Sundays I reflect.
I didn’t drink alcohol this week. I rarely do these days and my life is better that way.
I haven’t written this blog as much in recent weeks, so this could be a long one.
Ram Dass said “If you think you’re enlightened go spend a week with your family.”
I know I’m not enlightened even if other people might think that I am. I just spent a week with my family to prove it.
I’m writing this from the Memphis airport awaiting my flight home. My brother is delayed and watching football while his wife is on a call in her native Portuguese. The terminal is empty and we have an entire gate to ourselves. We’re all wearing masks by mandate which I’m certain was not only a point of contention at my family’s gathering but also likely some of yours.
Before writing about the last few days I’ll do my best to recall the beginning of the week back home in the mountains.
I was scatter brained. We’re expanding Bat Country Studios and renovations have been crawling along with many moving parts and people. I made a few things on the torch but not much. I spent time worrying about making it four or five days without weed on my upcoming trip. I packed and shipped cups and sweaters and calendars, as fresh inventory came in at the same rate for which I scheduled photo shoots and uploaded new products to the website.
A cop rides around on a bicycle in the vacant terminal. My brother and his wife boarded their plane and I made my way across the nostalgic Memphis airport to terminal C.
Memphis is a unique part of my life. Reckoner is on repeat, but not the original Radiohead recording. The Maribou State Remix might be the only song I’ve listened to this week since it popped up on my Discover Weekly. I typically listen to music from the time I wake up until I go to sleep. This week with my family I was more present than I have been for most of the year. I hardly used my phone.
Memphis is a city of music. I was born there. My mother is from there and my father moved there for a job. He told me this weekend if he hadn’t gotten that job he would have moved home to his parents in Chicago without work in his field as a Rabbi. As it turns out he was also the last remaining option from his graduating class if the temple in Memphis was going to get an assistant Rabbi that year. Despite their differences idealogically my father took the job and moved to Memphis where he knew one person (a rabbinic colleague of his).
My parents met there and I came to be, before we moved to Chicago when I was two years old. I remember annual visits to my grandfathers house in Memphis at Christmas and Summertime. That was the same humble house my mother and her siblings were raised in. I can assure you my grandfather changed nothing in the house over the 50+ years he lived there, down to the pastel pink bathtub in the bathroom that 10+ people would share for a week at a time.
The house was too small for the group of us which must have been why it always felt so confrontational, a stark contrast to my fathers side of the family in chicago which are a much more easy going bunch.
On Christmas Day the entire town of Memphis would come over to my grandfather’s house, or so it felt. My father the Rabbi would fly us in that day as to avoid stockings and Santa because to him it did not align with his Jewish practice. For my also Jewish Mother’s side of the family Christmas was a cultural celebration, though certainly an act of assimilation in a place that was not historically as accepting as I perceived Chicago to be.
I always come back to a specific fact I learned as a child, which contextualized a lot of things for me as a Northerner growing up in Chicago. My uncle Louis was in high school during the first year of bussing and integrated schools. Louis is younger than my mom, and I think she told me at her school (K-12) growing up there were only one or two black students when she attended. It was completely mind blowing for me to comprehend as a child how recently the Civil Rights Movement was. Without my experiences visiting the South regularly as a child, I would not have any kind of contextualization or understanding of the history of this country.
If you ever have the chance to visit the National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis I consider it to be one of the most important places I have ever visited.
My Mother’s Father was a legendary human being. Born into poverty in Memphis and sharing a bed with his brother’s growing up he got himself through law school and became a lawyer around age 21 before joining the army becoming a captain and liberating a concentration camp at the end of World War 2. Then he came back casually and returned to practicing law. He was a corporate attorney who was a champion of civil rights and known throughout the community as a good and honest man. He was also one of the most terrifying human beings I have ever encountered. He never lost an argument, and he did not always have the nicest way of engaging with his family when things did not go exactly as he wanted them to.
His values shaped me. They shaped all of us Glazers. My Mother’s relatives are all shaped by Herbert they make sure to tell me. When his brother died he raised his nephew as his own son and when a stranger needed the shirt off his back he gave it.
So after flying from Vail to Chicago where my father picked me up we drove a few hours South to a roadside hotel. The next morning we put in six more hours to get to Memphis crossing a bridge from Arkansas over the Mississippi River into the heart of the city which which was built East from the Mississippi River and downtown.
I had to make a pitstop at Porky’s for a BBQ sandwich before arriving at my cousin’s house. My father had to use the restroom so he went inside while I drove through for pickup, mentioning it was his first time setting foot in the inherently non kosher establishment. For context and to understand what kind of a person my father is, every decision he makes in life takes into consideration how it will affect his community as a leader and a person setting a moral example. There is a Jewish commandment to “not place a stumbling block before the blind” which my father interprets as not giving a person a reason to believe you are doing something immoral even if you are not. Keeping Kosher is a set of Jewish distant restrictions prohibiting pork among other things. My father wouldn’t go into a BBQ Pig restaurant my entire life as to not have somebody misinterpret his being seen there as also him eating a pork sandwich (even if he was just using the bathroom and not eating any pork). This way of leading by example would prevent tempting a congregant from rationalizing breaking the laws of Kosher because “the Rabbi did it so I can too.”
So we made way to my cousin’s house who assumed the role of host when we finally sold my grandfather’s old house a few years back.y cousin lived in Nashville for the last few years and just moved back to Memphis. I arrived to a variety of attitudes towards vaccines and masks and the virus, which culminated in some tension. Certain family members did not attend because of the feelings of others on the subject. Certain family members did not attend due to being immunocompromised and not wanting to risk their lives with Omicron surging.
After getting past my own frustrations with the situation we ate and caught up and played games with the kids. I don’t see my Mother’s family nearly as much these days, as other obligations and circumstances have prevented me from attending their gatherings. I also live a lot further than the rest of the family mostly still located around Tennessee if not in Memphis.
We’ve boarded the plane and I thought I hit the jackpot. I was alone in a pair of seats until the last moment when they brought an obviously nervous young unaccompanied minor. Fortunately a woman across the aisle with her own daughter offered her iPhone for the unaccompanied minor to watch something while we fly.
In the car on the way to the airport I had a argument with my Mother who suggests that more than 50% of the population would act in their perception of the greater good. I argued that I think less than 50% of the population would act against their own self interest for the greater good.
They say you can measure this (at least certain sample populations) by whether or not a person returns the shopping cart at the grocery or leaves it in the way and drives off. This would prove me wrong as it appears more people return their carts than those that leave them in empty parking spaces or the middle of the road. There is no punishment if you don’t return the cart. It isn’t illegal to leave it and someone working for the store will eventually reel it in. There is also no reward for returning the shopping cart besides knowing it was the right thing to do.
While I’m so self consumed in this essay and listening to Reckoner on repeat now for a few hours in a row after only Christmas Carols for the last few days, this woman across the aisle offered her sole source of distraction on this flight to the child visiting her divorced parent hundreds of miles away. My mother would talk to this kid the entire flight making the time go by for both of them and offering a free counseling session (she is a social worker that works mostly with kids) that might even include games like tic tac toe.
These essays are my introspections, and my way of processing much of my experience. I need them as a meditation while I simultaneously enjoy sharing a personal side to this “corporate entity” that is Drinking Vessels.
I saw two friends from my childhood this week. One of them is a successful musician, traveling the world and pursuing her passion. We had a brief hour to catch up after family gatherings. The other friend is Nicky.
My Mother worked with Nicky’s father, and subsequently looked after Nicky and his sister when they were young. She was like their cool older cousin even though they weren’t related Nicky tells me. When I was in high school and at one of the lowest points of my life, my mom asked Nicky to take me out to play pool once when we were in Memphis so I could get some space from the family. He’s almost 15 years older than me and works as a coder for a mega software company. We shot the shit and some billiards and got to know each other around 15 years ago making me now around the age that Nicky was at the time he met me.
Nicky picked me up at the hotel another night after family stuff that must have been Christmas Eve because almost everything was closed. I got in the car and we laughed that even if nothing was open we could drive around and talk but then we passed Huey’s and I saw lights on. We went in and I figured what the fuck I’ll have a beer. I asked about the local options before settling on an IPA and the waitress carded me. No problem except that I forgot my wallet in the hotel as we had just planned to have tea in the lobby before realizing they didn’t have teabags. Nicky got a Corona and I had a cup of Tea at Huey’s on Christmas Eve. We talked for a few hours about life and reminisced about when he let me live in his rent locked apartment 14 years ago on my road trip to find myself in the Mission of San Francisco where he still lives today.
And on Christmas Day some extended family and friends came by my cousin’s house where her daughters put on an adorable production of their own rendition of Christmas Songs with dances and a fully choreographed performance. And my brother introduced his amazing wife Pri to our Mother’s family for the first time, unable to do so besides virtually for the last few years due to the pandemic. And we ate cousin Bryan’s famous smoked ribs. And the kids still believe in Santa, and they got presents, and they experienced joy.
And I wish that joy upon everyone else; the pure experience of enjoyment. And I recognize that opportunity is there for everyone in the same way.
A lot of my life is spent in the exploration of duality. My Composition Notebook theme is black and white. One of my favorite poems of all time is Fire & Ice by Jack Frost.
Some say the world will end in fire
Others say in Ice …
And the kid next to me is watching Tom and Jerry thankfully because I’m just not sure I have the emotional capacity to be there for this kid I don’t know while I process my own shit from the last week or month or lifetime but I was just able to hold her tray table up as she struggled to fasten it and it made me feel like not a complete self absorbed asshole.
It’s been a nonstop year, and the past few days were some of the few on which I was able to turn off the daily distractions. My life is about to be nonstop from now until March when I plan to take some time for myself. Until then I’ll be preparing for Glass Vegas as well as the Fourth Annual Vail Cup Collectors Club both in February 2022. I’ll make time to snowboard once I get back, and other than that I’ll entirely focused on the studio renovations and preparations required for those two events.
I heard Vail got dumped on while I was gone so I anticipate being on my board in no time.
And I’m looking forward to focusing more time on the torch next year, and still wrapping up a few projects before this year ends.
I think that’s enough rambling for now, and I appreciate you tuning in. I wish you all a relaxing next week and a happy new year.
Thanks for tuning in,
Leave a comment
Comments will be approved before showing up.