Giving Thanks

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Yesterday morning – Thanksgiving 2013 – I decided to kick off a new personal tradition; listing 10 things – in no particular order – that I was eternally thankful for experiencing this past year. I took to my Facebook wall and decorated my musings with a few pics to accent each selection. Once I was done, I looked back and realized I had the makings of a decent Blog post – which is why I find myself here, a day later – looking to spruce up The Ed Zone with a new post.

If you didn’t see these posts yesterday, don’t let the calendar date fool you. I carry these thankful thoughts all year long. And, as I mentioned at the top of this post – I’m planning on making this an annual event… so it should prove pretty cool to look back years later and see just where my head and heart was at each Thanksgiving.

I wish I had thought of this earlier but then again, I wish someone had invented the Internet earlier too. (DAMN YOU AL GORE!!!) I had soooooo much to say waaaaaaay back in my teens and now those thoughts are lost for all time. Lucky you. 😉

So without further adieu, here are the Top Ten Things I Am Thankful for in 2013.

10.   Discovering Breaking Bad

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I FINALLY took the plunge this Summer – watching my first episode in mid-August, with the feeling that I would work my way through and catch up to the end of the series by the time the final season hit DVD and Streaming. Instead – I devoured it… eventually catching up to real time; making the wait for the next week’s episode (the 4th to last) unbearable. But – that made watching the finale live with the rest of you such a great communal experience.

I first noticed writer/creator Vince Gilligan when he wrote some of the most inventive and playful episodes of The X-Files. The foundation he laid there turned into a magnificent towering work of art. I’m so thankful I didn’t pass this one by.

What he did here will inspire so many future writers and we, the grateful audience, can only benefit.

9.   Boston Strong

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Boston Strong was coined in the wake of the horrific Marathon bombings and while it became a regional rallying cry… it was the stories of selfless heroism that rose in the chaotic days that followed, that gave the phrase such indelible meaning.

From the amazing strength displayed by Carlos Arredondo – a man I’ve never met; yet one of those guys you’d love to break bread with and hear his stories and toast to his great heart and spirit… to someone a little closer to home – my friend Gary’s companion, Peter (pictured above – another man I’ve never met but salute all the same) – who I caught on the CBS News comforting and assisting displaced marathon runners in the immediate wake of the tragedy… all of these stories define Boston Strong.

“Good samaritans in the neighborhood brought out blankets, coffee, orange juice and food. They offered their homes to anyone that needed to use the restroom,” blogged Boston Marathon runner Ali Hatfield, who was displaced when her hotel was evacuated following the bombings on Boylston Street Monday. “It was one of those moments when you say to yourself, ‘people are good‘.”

8.   The Incredible World Shrinking Internet

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Early this past Summer, I took to my Facebook wall to sing the praises of something called Sharknado – a SyFy channel original flick that was still in production and had yet to really hit the public lexicon. I came across the title while taking a little break at work. A coworker and I decided to Google “The 25 Best SyFy Channel Movies Based on Title Alone“. Sharknado was slotted in near Ghost Shark and Mansquito… and the second I saw those two terrors smashed together (like the world’s worst Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup) I just knew I had to take to my wall and sing its praises.

And what did I get for all of my soapboxing? Well, as it turns out – ’tis a small world after all as a friend of mine, Suzanne – works at USA Network – a stone’s throw (or elevator ride) away from SyFy. She followed my Sharknado musings for weeks and when Ian Ziering stopped by their office building to autograph some swag, she swooped into action and scored me this amazing signed one-sheet plus an official limited edition Sharknado T-Shirt.

Now, who do I know that knows someone at Paramount? I’ve got some scripts to sell. Better get started pimping ‘The Wolf of Wall Street’, stat.

7.   Mumford & Sons

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Mumford & Sons has officially and inexplicably become my muse. I always have certain songs in mind when writing my scripts, so while working on The Monkeybar Mafia I wanted to kick things off with “Letting the Cables Sleep‘ by Bush – which would have capped Ryan’s opening layoff scene. It’s a somber piece that would have eased the audience (and Ryan) into the state of arrested development we find him in when the story starts proper.

Then – while pulling into the Home Depot parking lot one hot July afternoon – a few months before Monkeybar began production, I heard “The Cave” by Mumford & Sons and it just encapsulated everything about that play. It spoke of someone being pushed down for so long (whether by external forces or his own doing) and being urged to break free and find his true self. So, that song became Monkeybar’s unofficial anthem.

For the followup, The Lost World – “I Will Wait” was the hopeful tune I capped the story with. While I may not be the world’s most spiritual dude – I did want to gift Hannah with a little hope after putting her through such an emotional ringer.

And when I started writing my latest play Lost and Found‘Lover of the Light‘ was on heavy rotation… figuring in big time to the beginning of this show – when my main characters Holden and Carly find themselves completely lost and adrift and looking for a glimmer of light in their life.

So – if you want me to stop writing these things, you’re gonna’ have to hack my iTunes account.

6.   Someone (my friend Sarah, specifically) FINALLY gave me a slice of apple pie.*

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*And that’s why the rest of you should be thankful for this too. The fate of your world hung in the balance. All I ask is one apple pie a year and you can all rest easy.

5.   I was called Coach for the first time in my entire life. 

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And while it took forever for me to realize that every time those kids started a sentence with “Hey Coach” they were speaking to me… in the end, co-coaching Colin and his teammates for 8 straight weeks – alongside my good friend Todd (who coached his son as well) – is one of the highlights of my life.

Which is why I am so happy to report that Todd and I are a mere week away from tossing on the whistles once again.

4.   My Minions

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I can’t do anything about slowing their growth. Can’t freeze time. Can’t slow it. Can’t travel back. BUT I CAN ENJOY EVERY SINGLE MOMENT I HAVE WITH THEM!!! So, I’m thankful I hear that message loud and clear.

3.   I Found The Lost World

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When I started this year, The Lost World was a script collecting virtual dust in my MacBook. I had proposed it for production in 2012 and it got shot down. I was deflated. Depressed. I thought that was my only chance.

And then, through a series of happy coincidences late last winter – an opportunity presented itself – even if it meant a WHOLE TON of work staging this thing almost completely independently (in that, we did not have the backing of an established theater group.)

In 2 & 1/2 short months, a whole bunch of great people (most I had just met) came together to put on a show. And while I woke almost every morning with one thought in my head (“Why DID I think I could ever do this? I’ve got to cancel the show!!!”) – by the end of each day, my confidence was strengthened and I would lower my head to the pillow with the same mantra played on repeat (“You can do anything you set your mind to.“)

On November 1, 2013 – the curtain opened – proving that whenever you get those silly thoughts that seek to steer you off course, you’ve got to kick them to the curb.

You CAN do anything you set your mind to!!!

2.   Batkid
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Stories like this remind me there are amazing heroes in this world!!!
1.   The Right Phrase at the Right Time
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A friend gifted me with this compliment recently. “…you have a bright, youthful energy around you and that will take you far.”

Every time I say some foolish little thing out here on the web… or pose for some silly selfie… or sign up for another Dad’s Dance… or rock a cotton candy beehive hairdo… I’ll think back upon that statement.

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I’m thankful that at the age of 41 – I feel more energetic and youthful than I did at 21. I know this feeling won’t last forever… but I’m thankful to have a life that has seen these days.

And above it all, I’m thankful to have a life chock-full of some amazing friends and family (all of you) for whom I can share all my goofy little whims with.

So – to all of you – I wish you a very Happy Thanksgiving!!!