2:14AM and all the sudden I’m wide awake. I don’t want to be. Normally in this situation, I pick up the 800-and-some-odd-page “Team of Rivals” book that I’m currently wrapped up in and I read a few pages about Abe Lincoln and crew before my eyes start to droop and… snooooooore. But right now Angie is asleep beside me, which means lights are not an option and I’m not committed to walking downstairs and couching it tonight. So I pick up my phone remembering that I downloaded an app to test out for this blog entry.
York County Libraries just partnered with Hoopla Digital to provide free access to audiobooks, e-books, music and movies for library card holders (you can read about it here: http://www.flipsidepa.com/region-yorkhanover/ci_27932685/york-county-libraries-partner-hoopla-offer-free-music). I decide to pull up the app and see how unimpressed I’d be when I can’t get the book I want. I already entered my library card number and created an account a couple days ago, which was pretty easy. I didn’t go much further than that.
After searching “Team of Rivals,” The cover shot popped up on the first result. That was cool, but you know the glitch in the matrix is right around the corner. I tap the image and it brings up a button that says, “Go to Bookshelf,” so I tap it. It sends me to another screen that has two buttons. I can either download the Kindle Book or read it in a browser. I tap “read in your browser” and I’ve got a beautiful layout where I can swipe to turn pages, search for any phrase, see the chapters and the cover art, higlight, take notes, define words by pressing them, change the scale of the font and pretty much everything else I can do in the Kindle app. What the Lincoln?!? This thing actually works. I easily find the place where I left off in the hardback.
So from what I can gather, I have the ability to “check out” 6 e-books/audiobooks/movies/albums at a time. I can keep them for up to two weeks and then extend that if needed, and I don’t have to pay a dime because York County Libraries hooked a fella up.
I pull up my reminders app and type, “CANCEL AUDIBLE SUBSCRIPTION TOMORROW” and go back to reading my newly acquired e-book… snooooooore. I’m dreaming about saving 15 bucks a month.
Sweet move, York County Libraries. I learned two things tonight… 1) Don’t take selfies in bed while fake reading your iPhone case. 2) An iPhone hurts much less than an 800-page book when you drop it on your face.
You gotta go to the Maryland Science Center in Baltimore. It’s the place where the kids beat on all the hands-on exhibits while we try to explain science stuff we learned 30 seconds too late for it to matter.
There’s a tug-of-war machine. The kids grab one side (the side with the leverage) and you grab the other. If you don’t let them win you look like a jerk.
There’s an exhibit that creates a whirlpool, but your kids won’t crank the thing hard enough for your standards. You’ll still be a little bitter about the tug-of-war loss, so you’ll grab the handle and let it rip until your forehead veins actually make contact with the device. When you stop and look around to see the awe in all the kids’ faces, you’re let down like the five-year-old girl standing by crying because you stole her turn.
Catch up with your kids at the electric circuit lab. There’s a 17-year-old nerd (not that there’s anything wrong with that) running the show and he’ll give you this speech about the days when Christmas lights went out after one bulb died. He wasn’t even stinking up diapers in those days, but he’ll preach parallel circuits to you and crickets while the kids bolt to the dinosaur dig.
You catch a glimpse of your ladyfriend while playing some hide-and-seek around some T-Rex bones and she’s just watching it all happen. The funny thing is she looks like she’s enjoying the show. And that’s when it hits you… This mess that seemed like a completely erratic afternoon was perfectly planned. She masterminded the whole thing and you just gotta take that in for a minute and let your mind be blown by the scientific magnitude of this little family experiment.
The planetarium show about black holes is on the agenda for 3:30. Your favorite lady has it timed so you and the kids learn the order of the planets in the space exhibit before entering the auditorium for the best seats in the house.
You’re a pawn in her game, but this is your moment. The planetarium is a 30-minute break in an easy chair. Check…mate. Family leverage is all about having the best queen on the board.
Put yourself in this scenario: Saturday. 6am. Coffee. Your goal is to get three things done this morning, but you woke up four hours too late to accomplish it.
When your board retreat starts at 9am, you’ve got two choices; be there, or be there and think about where you want to be. You choose option two.
It’s noon. You’re at your kids’ school. You run around the halls for an hour and a half helping the PTO get ready for a 2pm event.
It’s 1:30. Everybody is done their work and they’re waiting for people to show up. You’re sitting in a chair built for a first-grader and plugging away on an email.
Kids are running all over the place, but there’s only one kid in the hallway you’re in. He runs over, stands straight up and looks at you. He says, “What awe you doing?” You look at him silently. You’re still all heated up about your wasted day. You look back at your phone because, unlike that kid, you have stuff to do.
The kindergarten kid points at your phone. With a straight face, he asks, “What’s that?”
You stare up again – right into the kid’s eyes. He’s looking down the hall. When you look at him, he stares back at you. You let out one of those quick chest laughs that just happen. The kid shoots back the exact same laugh. A second passes and you both start dying laughing for no reason.
You get your butt out of the first-grader chair to find your kids.
Time doesn’t pass without the present – like it or not. There are plenty of opportunities to like it. A kindergartener can tell you that.
My favorite word is downright dirty. I’ve never heard it used lightly. In fact, I dare you to say it without a hard “R” and a bold gleam in your eye. Go ahead… “GRIT.”
Man, there are over a million words in the English language but they can’t… touch… “GRIT.” It’s short, it’s sharp and everybody knows what it feels like on the hands and in the heart. If you don’t know what grit is, you can forget all the other words you know because you might be breathing, but you ain’t livin’.
I have a favorite place too. It’s just as resilient and just as sharp. It gets beaten and battered, but it won’t stop getting up. People who know it best either resent it or revere it. You know what I’m talking about – 32 years a Yorker.
We grew up saying, “I don’t know what I want to do, but I know I don’t want to do it in York.” To this day I’m not sure why we said that… but I have a guess. We grew up in a town that forgot it had grit.
Grit isn’t easy. We all talk about how it would be nice if… and… how things should be… and… how they once were. When we’re done talking, we realize that we better keep talking or we’ll be expected to do something about it – so we talk. And that’s what Yorkers did – we talked.
A while ago a group of Yorkers stopped talking. They just shut up and went silent. They were downtown digging up grit.
Downtown is all grit. I’m talking about the kind that comes to the surface when people stop talking and get busy building what they can with what they have.
There are still plenty of folks who like to talk about how things should be… and what would be nice… and how things once were. They’ll keep talking. The folks downtown will keep working.
A while from now, the talkers might walk downtown – they might not. If they do, our quiet friends will wash the grit off their hands and greet them with a gleam in their eye. They’ll just say, “Welcome back.”
A relatively wise old man once told me that every ten seconds you take to explain something, you lose 10% of your audience. Since one in ten of you is about to bail, here’s what to expect out of me:
1. unapologetically optimistic thoughts about York – my hometown.
2. stuff about townies – my family and friends
3. zero complaining
Come back sometime. Only two things can happen – you’ll like it or you’ll have a go-to blog to bash. We all win either way.