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Through the wringer
Notes from a rough week, plus my weekly shareables: Tales from the headset, knuckle tattoos, and SHORESY is back!
A couple of weeks ago I mentioned here that my wife and I were going on vacation. It was refreshing to get away and we had some wonderful moments. We saw minor-league baseball games in five different cities. We got to hang out with my brother and sister-in-law and one of the grand-nephews. We stopped by Seagrove to indulge Alix’s love for pottery. We checked something off my personal North Carolina bucket list: the Vollis Simpson Whirligig Park in Wilson. It’s tremendous.
But the entire time we were on the trip, I had a hard time catching my breath. I’d have to stop two or three times if we were just walking down the block. It was really hot and humid the whole time we were gone, so I chalked it up to fatigue from the heat. But even after we got home and had a chance to sit still for a while, I was still feeling whipped. So I went to the doctor.
It turns out I had a case of atrial fibrillation. Basically, an irregular heartbeat. My normal resting heartbeat is about 60 beats a minute. When they did an EKG at the doctor’s office, it was 120.
A-fib, as the doctors call it, is very common and usually treatable with medication; my doctor had it himself a few years ago. I started taking the meds and my heart rate slowed almost immediately. But in the meantime a couple of other things had cropped up. I had developed a cough. And a headache was lurking deep in my skull.
After a couple of days of that, Alix wisely suggested I take a COVID test. And, yep, the bastard finally tracked me down.
Not only that, my mother-in-law tested positive, too. And a couple days later, Alix tested positive. Unlike in baseball, this is not an instance where you want to go 3-for-3. (Or maybe 4-for-4 … it’s possible I gave COVID to my buddy Joe Posnanski, who is scheduled to start his book tour next week. Please order a copy of his brilliant book WHY WE LOVE BASEBALL. Buying an author’s books is the best medicine.)
In this house, we’re all feeling better for now (I’m writing this Thursday night, in between naps). We’ve been blessed to overflowing with food and supplies and love from our friends—I’m writing a bit more about that in my Monday commentary for WFAE. We are very lucky to not be in need.
But I bet there is someone in your circle who IS in need—maybe a shut-in, or a struggling single parent, or just a lonely person who could use someone to talk to. You probably know exactly who they are. It would do them good to have you drop by with a pizza, or even just pick up the phone and call.
And the secret is, it will do you good, too.
Reminder: My upcoming book, DOGLAND, is now available for preorder! You can get to many of the major bookseller sites through the Simon & Schuster page. I also have a deal through my favorite bookstore, Park Road Books in Charlotte—if you preorder DOGLAND through them, I’ll sign and inscribe your copy (or copies!) however you like. Jump on that deal here:
10 things I wanted to share this week:
My long-ago Charlotte Observer colleague Gina Davidson has written a powerful memoir called BESSERS & THE ROLLING STONE that’s now available through Amazon. It’s about how Gina was called into action when her long-estranged father lay dying after an accident, and she had to assemble the shards of multiple broken families. Touching, raw, funny, and relatable to anyone whose family is anything but traditional.
My friend Michael Kruse is still the heavyweight champ of modern political writing; here’s his latest, on Chris Christie demanding accountability, but never quite applying that accountability to himself. (Politico)
The scariest story I read this week was Ronan Farrow’s piece on Elon Musk. It turns out this country has mortgaged much of its infrastructure, and its future, to a possibly ketamine-addled social-media troll. (New Yorker)
A Republican mom from Tennessee had a son at the Nashville school where a shooter killed six people in March. Now she’s fighting for gun reform. And learning how the world really works. (Washington Post)
DOG NEWS: From now until DOGLAND comes out (April 2024!), I’m devoting this slot to dog stories. This week: Not sure I agree with this, but worth a conversation: Are dog parks bad for dogs? (NYT)
SHORESY season 2 is coming! Sticks for everybody!
(If you haven’t seen it, here’s my ode from last summer.)
Loved Grace Raynor’s story on tales from the football coach’s headset, where profanity reigns and sometimes you interrupt an incoming flight. (The Athletic)
RIP two very different wrestling legends. Terry Funk (NYT obit) had a long and varied career, but I loved him best as the psycho bad guy who tried to smother Ric Flair with a plastic bag and always called Dusty Rhodes an “egg-sucking dog.” Windham Rotunda, best known as Bray Wyatt (Washington Post obit) was just 36. He brought a cinematic imagination to his characters and angles. A mesmerizing talker.
Something to play with: A knuckle tattoo generator.
I never knew I wanted to hear Al Green sing a Lou Reed song, but it turns out “Perfect Day” is the magical place where they meet. I have often said that if I could sing like one person in the history of music, it would be Al Green. He’s 77 now and I’ll be damned if he doesn’t sound as good as ever.
See y’all next week, everybody.