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Sunday, 27 September 2009

Dream Catcher

It’s another Sunday at the Yacht and Club here in Asuncion, Paraguay. The tables are yet again filled with flurries of people moving every which way. New foods and kids walking around with out a care in the world. When they see me it is always an entertaining reaction. Almost a look of, “ Um…you don’t belong here.” Or maybe its more of a, “ Geez, you’re bigger than my dad!” I get that one back home so I can easily identify the look. As my iTunes blast out my favorite music and I feel the movement around me while focusing on the task at hand, writing for your pleasure and my release. (iTunes time out, Hall & Oates- baby come back) I find it a bit harder to write this entry than normal. Honestly I have been avoiding it since last week. I have had the topic and general body composed for the most part in my thoughts.

The only task was to put thoughts imported from my erratic mind to cleanliness of a blog. Trust me, you don’t want to see what it looks like in my head. Stuttering is a habit from childhood that surfaces from time to time due to the nature of my thought processing. “Marcus! Your mouth can’t catch up with your brain!...slow down.” Something I heard for years from my mother and my best friend Gabe never lets me forget. I do have to admit it is funny to see a grown man stutter, stop, and laugh at himself. I’m off track, an example of the thoughts racing to get out of my head. Dreams are a huge part of our lives. Well, maybe they do not have an effect on the outcome of situations on a daily basis. But they play a part. We could have a discussion on dreams that could go on forever. What they mean, how they happen, if they mean something. You pick the topic and we could elaborate as far as you would like.

I love dreams. Maybe because they can differ so much form one to the other. Sometimes my dreams are vivid like I am really there. Sometimes my dreams are not, and when I wake up I can barely remember what the dream was about. Others, are as if I am there watching myself or others but I am not actually apart of the story unfolding. I am just a spectator there for the proceedings like watching a movie happen in front of you. As if you are on the set but there are no second takes. I remember I class discussion once in college while in attendance at McNeese State University. My first college after leaving my home at the time Anchorage, Alaska. The topic was actually about the different realms of sleep and what happens in them. Levels of consciousness, how aware you are of your surroundings etc. This led us to the topic of dreams, and what kind of dreams people have. Even a huge discussion about what people do in their dreams leading me to find out that not everyone has the same type of dreams.

See for the most part in my dreams I do what I choose, I control what happens and where I go or what I do. It started when I was a kid say 7 or 8 years old. I went to a friends house and for some reason we watched FRIDAY THE 13TH . Well I knew it was a scary movie from the box it was encased in. What I did not think it that when it was no longer daytime (when we watched the movie) that the scenes from the movie would seem much more real increasing the fear factor through the roof. The first question you have is what were 7-8 year olds doing watching that movie. In defense of our adult supervision we were supposed to be watching something else but when we were no longer being watched felt as if we were BIG KIDS. Needless to say by nightfall I realized I was not quite ready to be a big kid, or watch BIG KID movies! The scenes of Freddy and the terror he reaped in your dreams had me terrified! For many nights it was hard for me to sleep, and when I did he was there to let me know I had better not watch his movies any more. It began to affect my sleeping and one night my mother came to me asking what was wrong as I prepared for bed. Unable to take it any more I spilled the beans, telling my mother about my movie escapade and what it was doing to my dreams. As calm as ever my mother filled me in what would to do.

Her wise words, “ Its YOUR dream Marcus. YOU control what happens and what does not. So when you see him or feel afraid, just laugh take control of what is happening.” I thought that she was nuts are you for real!? Mom apparently had not watched the movie because controlling dreams was kind of Freddy’s whole thing!! Either way, she was my mom and they always seemed to know what was best. As I prepared for bed that night I sat there for a couple hours afraid to go to sleep and giving myself a pep talk of what to do, and how to do it when I came face to face with my villain. Well, as I knew it would my dream came. I encountered my nightmare bully, did as my mother said and realized I was not afraid any more. I laughed in his face, felt no fear, and even bullied him! It was an empowering moment for young Marcus. Developing into a new game I played with myself anytime I had a dream that I enjoyed I would plan what to do if was put in the same situation. Entertaining to say the least. It is something that I do even today

(iTunes time out John Legend- Everybody knows)

But last week I had a dream during one of my wonderful day naps that I take in between practices, and lifting to keep my body fresh. Unfortunately my body feels fresh right now but not due to naps but to the fact that I have a groin injury that has me sidelined and grounded like a Plane with a bad engine. It is quite irritating. During this particular dream I found myself with someone very close to me. We were located in a small restaurant in the backside away from people. The room was lit up pretty well and in this dream I was actually watching the proceedings happen. It was a pretty happy scene full of laughs and giggles, Inside jokes and nerdy laughs. When I think back the lights seemed bright but the room itself almost foggy a bit, like a scene was about to change in a movie, or a page was being turned in a book as a story was being read to you as a child. And so change came taking myself and my dream sidekick to a huge gathering. It is amazing how dreams can change. We now were located in the coziness of a family gathering in an apartment that had a the smell of an elderly person and I was not watching myself, now I was 1st person point of view. I saw close friends and people that I did not recognize but in my dream I was very acquainted with.

It was a splendid time full of laughs and more jokes. Almost like a recap of the last night’s proceedings that you do after a great night out. Sit around, laugh, and talk about the memories you made with those close to you and feel really blessed to have those people in your life. After a joke was made I looked down at my plate realizing that I was finished and proceeded to take my dishes to the kitchen. As I did so I walked past a small coffee table and out of the corner of my eye saw a woman sitting there. I did not make her out at first and as I approached the sink and replayed what had just happened I realized it was my grandmother. A feeling of shame and disrespect came over me. How could I walk past my grandmother and not stop to acknowledge her? After all, in dreams and real life I had not spoken to her in some time so I already felt bad for that. As I scrubbed the food off my plate I knew as I put my plate down I would return back to her and fix my show of disrespect. Then something happened as I turned to do so.

Turning to my right about to dry my hands on a towel hanging from the refrigerator door I saw my grandfather Osmond. I was frozen for a second and taken back to the degree of losing my breath. Even now I feel a shortness of breathe describing it for you. My grandfather plays a huge part in my life. The lessons he taught me through his words and his actions are vivid with me. Memories of situations with him are like still photos with deep seeds in my heart and soul. He was a policeman back in Kingston, Jamaica and a great man. I think my most vivid memory is of him teaching me to tie my shoes or eating fish eyes in front of a young Marcus. His visits to see us while living in Germany, and his stories he would tell of my antics running through clothes racks at department stores. His and my mother’s favorite was probably a 4 year old Marcus saying to a U.S. Army soldier at a bus stop, “Hey…hey boy!” Well that or an episode of break dancing. But I will leave that story to my mother. Well needless to say it should have been great to see him. But the thing is the only place I have seen him the last times I saw him was in a dream. Since he passed away back in 2006.

As I turned to him it was a feeling that was one of surprise and immediately came into understanding. I knew that I was in a dream and I felt blessed to actually see him. After all the last time I did was right before I made my trip to leave en route to Denmark and my first team playing overseas. He passed away and I actually did not know until a close cousin of mine told me. Everyone was quite distraught at the loss of our family icon and knowing I was away on a road trip of games they thought it best to wait and tell me. It killed me to think that as my grandfather was passing away taking his last breaths I was busy in my own world playing a game. Putting a ball into a hoop and spending time with people that after the season I would never speak to. I reached out my arms as I made my way across the tiled floor in the darkly lit kitchen and watch my grandfather do the same as we embraced. The feeling was so real from the smell of his old spice after-shave to his stubbly face brushing against my cheek. His smell, clothes, and hair all fit that of a weekend with Grandpa in North Port, FL on one of our summer trips. I can still remember arriving after a long trip driving across highways from Fort Hood, TX and running up the driveway passing his grapefruit trees and garden ready for him to answer the door and the smell of his house.

As we embraced It was a feeling of, “Enjoy this now because this is as real as it will get.” I knew it was the closest to seeing him I would come until it was time to see him again. We never know when that time card will be punched do we? I spoke out in a low muffled tone with my face in his jacket, “I miss you Grandpa.” In his strong Jamaican accent and low tone he replied, “I know my son…I know.” This is much harder to write than I thought. I have had to stop and compose myself a few times already……………. I told him, “I love you.” As he said the same and began to recite a scripture that he always told my mother when she was growing up and did the same to my brothers and I. But as he did I realized even more that this was not real. In the middle of the verse he stopped having trouble remembering it seemed. “Honor thy mother and they father…..” halting in the middle a feeling of sadness ran over me and at the second it was almost a signal to me that this dream was about to end. I closed my eyes, and felt a single tear roll down my face.

(iTunes Time out, Anthony Hamilton- Fine again)

I sunk my head down further into his jacket and finished the verse for him. “Honor thy mother and thy father…….” Chiming in, “AND THEY DAYS WILL BE LONG UPON THE EARTH.” He squeezed me trying to match the grasp I had on him and at one point, he began to let go until he realized that I was not. I held him for a while longer. Let go and wiped the saturation from my cheek. We exchanged I love you’s and I looked him over one last time. Taking it all in for a moment snapping an image of his old body and his features. As I turned to walk away I woke up from the dream. I was back in my hotel where I had rested my head in between games our team had and no longer in the presence of family, friends, or my grandfather. As I sat there taking it all in I pulled out my Mac book and let loose a detailed email to someone close to me describing what happened. As I did so I felt myself starting to break down.

I finished the email and went to the bathroom feeling overcome with emotion. Dropping my face into my hands and pressing my back against a wall with the door closed I felt the tears cloud my vision and push them selves from the wells of my eyes. It was so real! But I knew it was a dream! But I felt like I was trying to be told something. Maybe about my grandmother? Something else? I didn’t know what to think, only that I knew I missed my grandfather more than I could explain. As I composed myself wiping tears from my hands and forearms I looked down at my left bicep where a tear had dropped. I stared for a minute, at the tribute to my grandfather that lies on the inside of my arm. “OSMOND- Loved, Lost, Remembered” tattooed. Forever keeping his memory alive with each eye that rest on it. Feeling a sudden calmness I returned to my Mac book and iChat. In reply to my email about my dream I wrote, “I don’t know the last time I cried…but I know now. And what my next blog is about.

R.I.P. Osmond Stewart LOVES, LOST REMEMBERED. In & out of our dreams


Sunday, 13 September 2009

Video from a Summer trip in South Florida


La Misma Cosa Diferente Luga

Around these parts it means “Same thing, different place”, well that's what google translator told me at least. The story of my life I guess. Since grade school and the beginning of sports for all athletes that is a phrase all too familiar. Different cities, states, and in my case countries that we go visit to play in hostile environments against teams we have never seen or heard of for that much. Our only goal being a victory at all costs. Losing is not an option now nor has it ever been. Athletes, excuse me COMPETITORS do not live by any other creed.

Today though I sit in the restaurant of the Yacht Club and Hotel here in Asuncion, Paraguay the capital of my current country of visitation on my third trip to South America in the last year and a half. A great meal of the norm; rice, chicken and vegetables have me full. Ice cream for dessert. A treat for the healthy eating throughout the week has me counting the crunches it will take to work off the hot fudge dripping from the bowl and the mixture of chocolate, and coffee flavored deliciousness that lay before me. Looking out the window sipping water to neutralize the sweetness from dessert and holding an iphone in the other hand typing rapidly on AIM instant messenger, I glance out the window and feel an aura of relaxation take over me.

(ITunes timeout, Fabolous- “Last time” ft. Trey Songz)

It so easy to get caught up in the mix of our daily interactions. Oh trust me I know, my days are blurred. They seem the same and leave me sometimes forgetting the day, date, and last night I realized I did not know what month it was for a second while chatting on a lifeline for survival known as iChat. Daily routine? Wake up; vitamins, protein shake, walk across the street from our condo to the hotel and restaurant our team arranged for us to eat all our meals at, breakfast, practice, lunch, rest, practice, dinner, ichat/Facebook/Twitter/Skype/ Literally that’s it, we play games on the weekends and some other parts are thrown in from day to day of course but you get the gist.
Something about today is different though. The clouds outside mixed with the blue skies in a type of blend that seems sculpted by hand almost takes my breathe away. How can inside this restaurant there is such a frenzy. Sunday brunch is quite an episode in this high-class hotel that looks out on the River of Paraguay. Children run amidst the tables and parents seem care free as they take in coffees, snacks and over priced meals made to look better than they are simply for the class of guests that frequent the hotel with a stream of steady business. Not one person here knows who I am. I could sit here all day and until I stand up and people see that I am six foot eight, not a soul would notice me.

(ITunes timeout, Jay-z “Blueprint 3)

The water outside is so calm; the voices inside erupt like firecrackers from all regions of the huge ballroom turned into a buffet on Sundays. The sky is powder blue like a can of paint was splashed. The man made beach on the rear of the hotel on the river is tattered with footprints that seem to almost be in a type of order. Across the river lay Argentina. Less than fifty feet away from that side of the river you can see shacks that are inhabited. Integrated into the rough shrubs and forestry. Every day I look at it and wonder how on this side of the river can lie Yacht Clubs, Golf Courses, tennis clubs, Mercedes Benz trucks, BMW Coupes, and high class living?

I toss the thought aside, the same thing happens in my own country so who am I to question that? It has been only a month and a half but it seems so much longer than that. A month and a half of being away from family, bad Internet, practices, bruises and bumps. It has been some 43 days of driving to practices, cold gyms, twitter updates, and road trips with internet that ends up being better than in my apartment! There are a lot of things that cause issues for you us and make us want to complain. But today I do not want to do that. Seeing a father at the table across from me teach his kids to count in a different language. Watching boats float by pulling a passenger on water skis. Eyeing the son of a friend walk past me giggling out of control. Reading instant messages on my iPhone that remind me that back home across open water, and over countries all too foreign to me than the word itself that I am loved, I just feel thankful.

Thankful that my legs have been able carry me from a crib as a baby to four continents as a man using the game that I love as my vessel. Each day I wake up healthy. I am granted the ability to walk, let alone play the game I love that allows me to support myself. My family is healthy and I live a life full of planes, trains, and automobiles that most would envy. The experiences that I have gained as well as the sights my eyes have seen will last me a lifetime. And they won’t be stopping any time soon. As I sit with my now melted ice cream and my battery on my iPhone dead I crack a smile realizing two things. I need to go back to my apartment, and I truly am blessed and should never forget that.

*Basketball update: We are currently 2nd place in our league at 12-3 with all three losses coming to the 1st place team.
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