Happy Thanksgiving

This Thanksgiving morning I’m tempted to get political and say that I’m thankful above all else for things like the fact that a majority of Americans still think of Sarah Palin as being unfit to serve as President, and that former U.S. House majority leader Tom DeLay was found guilty yesterday of money laundering. But, I’m trying to think less about politics today, and the swirling gyre of retardation that is the Tea Party, and focus instead on friends and family. I probably don’t say it here as often as I should, but I’m incredibly thankful for both. Without my family, I wouldn’t be here. And, without my friends, I wouldn’t be the person that am today… Sure, I might be a better, more successful and more productive version of myself without them, but I wouldn’t be the person that I am today. So, before I get started with this post, I’d just like to note that I’m incredibly thankful for everyone that I’m related to, from my grandmother in Kentucky, to my daughter, who is now in the other room, looking at our enormous turkey through the little glass porthole in the oven. There have been some bad times, and we’ve lost some people over the years, but, all in all, I’d say that we’ve been really fortunate as a family. As far as I know, all of us that are alive at the moment, are healthy, happy, employed and have roofs over our heads, which is quite an accomplishment in today’s world. As for friends, the same, for the most part, goes for them. A few are temporarily without partners or between jobs, but, as far as I know, the people in my friendship network (“tribe” sounded too new age) are doing pretty well, and I’m thankful for that. But, what I want to write about today are a few of the less obvious things that I’m thankful for – things that I don’t think I’ve ever shared with you before.

I’m thankful that my friends Dan and Matt, when they’d graduated from college, moved to Ann Arbor to live with me. If they hadn’t, I might never have had the misdirected encouragement I needed to start a band. And, if the three of us hadn’t formed a band, I probably wouldn’t have ever ventured into Ypsilanti, where I met my wife, Linette. There are others that played a role as well, like Ward Tomich, who booked us to play at Cross Street Station that fateful night. Without al of these folks, I’d likely be living in the forest today, sucking nutrients from moss-covered rocks.

I’m thankful for the car crash that my dad had in the late 60’s, which almost tore his arm from his body. If it hadn’t happened, my dad surely would shipped off to fight in Vietnam, with the other men that he’d been training with. Of the dozen or so men in his group, only two returned alive. I cannot imagine growing up without a father.

I’m thankful that my mother encouraged my father to apply for job at AT&T after he was released from the Navy. (He worked at the Portsmouth Naval Hospital after recovering from his accident.) He’d been working highway construction jobs when she talked him into applying for a position at a remote audio relay station of some kind near Monticello, Kentucky. He got that job, flipping switches and listening in on people’s private phone calls, and the rest is history. He steadily climbed up through the ranks, ending his career at the company headquarters in New Jersey – probably one of the few people without a college degree to do so. If this hadn’t happened, I would likely still be in the same small town in Kentucky today, instead of in the worldly sophisticated metropolis of Ypsilanti, Michigan.

While my parents never graduated from college, they did both attend classes as they could, which wasn’t easy with full-time jobs and two kids to raise. I remember pretty clearly my mom studying Spanish late at night at the kitchen table. And I remember them proof-reading class assignments for one another. It made an impression on me, and I’m forever thankful for it. It’ll probably make my mom cry to hear it, but I’m also thankful that they stopped taking me to church at a young age.

I’m thankful that my parents valued education enough to settle our family in a decent school district, instead of closer to where my father was going to be working. My dad, most days, left for work at 5:00 AM to catch the bus, and didn’t return until 7:00 PM or so at night. He did that for over a dozen years straight, and, because of that, I got to attend a great public school, where I met people like Dan and Matt – the guys I mentioned above who moved to Ann Arbor to make noise, drink $1 pitchers of beer, and publish zines with me.

Speaking of sacrifice, I’m also thankful that my distant relatives made the decision to come to America when they did. They did so without knowing if they’d ever see their homelands again. They left everything they knew in England, Sweden, Scotland, and Poland, in order to make a better life for their families. And, it’s because of their sacrifices that I’m here today, not having to work in the fields from sun up to sun down as they did.

Oh, and I’m thankful that, of all the mental illnesses in the world, I got OCD, which kind of has its up-side.

OK, there’a whole lot more I’d like to say, but that’ll have to be it for now, as the buzzer on the oven is ringing.

Happy holidays.

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  1. Aardvark
    Posted November 25, 2010 at 9:51 pm | Permalink

    And remember, after all those good times on Thanksgiving, with friends and family, doing things together, or just talking……

    Then comes “Black Friday” where corporations want nothing more than for the population to go into a buying orgy. Don’t you know, they tell us, buying things makes us happy!

    But also, the day after Thanksgiving is Buy Nothing Day, where loads of people will shun the call to buy more and more and more. For more on Buy Nothing Day visit http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Buy_Nothing_. Also, lots of Buy Nothing Day videos on YouTube like this one… http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JfKLlUeZ4eY&feature=fvw

  2. John 1503
    Posted November 26, 2010 at 3:02 am | Permalink

    I am thankful that my father brought a cheap condom with him on his first date with my mother. Its failure gave me life.

  3. Edward
    Posted November 26, 2010 at 9:03 am | Permalink

    To shop on black friday is to show support for the New Black Panther Party an its (2) members.

  4. Oliva
    Posted November 26, 2010 at 9:11 am | Permalink

    Lovely post, Mark. Thanks for it and for the steady and enormous energy you give to making our town, and the beating hearts within it, better and better. Happy Thanksgiving to all of you.

  5. Posted November 26, 2010 at 12:46 pm | Permalink

    It’s a very lovely post, thanks! I am certainly thankful for social media, where I’ve met many important people in my life–my husband (back in ’99) and many many other friends…heck, I met you and Peter Larson and Oliva (who I hope to meet in person one day!)

    I’m also thankful for my parents, even though I know that neither of their lives turned out as they wanted them to and neither is terribly happy. Their sacrifices made it possible for ME to be happy! And I’m kinda thankful for my illnesses…they are controllable with medication and the ADA covers everything else. :)

  6. Posted November 26, 2010 at 12:57 pm | Permalink

    I’m just thankful and grateful. I also love Ypsilanti. It’s home.

  7. Peter Larson
    Posted November 26, 2010 at 1:06 pm | Permalink

    I am thankful that mark wears leather shoes.

    Outside of that, I am thankful for mark Maynard who, despite having few social skills is adept at bringing people together.

  8. Kim
    Posted November 26, 2010 at 4:28 pm | Permalink

    I am thankful for alcohol, without which I would have never spoken to a single soul that I didn’t already know by the age of 14.

  9. Imatuckytoo
    Posted November 26, 2010 at 5:04 pm | Permalink

    And I’m thankful that we had Mark and Rebeccah and made life so much better. And that Mark had the good sense to marry Linette and then have Clementine, and then life was better yet!
    And to all of you blog readers that know Mark in whatever fashion you do, I’ll take this brief moment to say that I am thankful to have been his mother for the past 42 years and that I actually understand most of what he says and does, and yes, I’m very proud of him.

  10. Posted November 26, 2010 at 9:15 pm | Permalink

    OMG, Mrs. Maynard, that is the sweetest thing ever! :)

  11. Ale Roka
    Posted November 27, 2010 at 12:29 am | Permalink

    I’m thankful Mark has a mother who “actually understand most of what he says” which is more than many of us can say about our mothers and more than Mark can likely say about anyone else in the world.

    And, okay, I’m thankful for Mark and his combination of humor, intelligence and despairing panic that prods us readers to think and laugh about things we’d otherwise likely gloss over.

    Finally, I’m thankful for all those folks who leave comments and nudge the thinking and laughing along. I don’t comment often, but I do read yours and routinely smile, grimace and moan. I try not to laugh or moan too loudly, though, because, when I do, the nurse ups my Diazepam.

  12. TTR
    Posted November 27, 2010 at 10:34 am | Permalink

    I am thankful for Smallpox, without which the Native Americans would have likely wiped us out.

  13. DanR.
    Posted November 27, 2010 at 9:39 pm | Permalink

    And I am thankful to have left New Jersey behind to head off to uncharted Michigan in 1990, to live with Mark and Matt. I am thankful to have wasted good pickle buckets on Yeti Load songs and good vinyl on Skink records. I am thankful to have started to hang out more with Mark in high school. Two things come to mind: trying to make tie-dye shirts in my basement instead of sitting around saying we were bored (Mark’s idea – wish I still had that shirt); listening to music (Jimi Hendrix, Public Enemy, Redd Kross, etc.) in Mark’s basement bedroom surrounded by bags of hair, posters of Malcom X, smashed Michael Jackson records and vials of fingernails.

    Hi Mrs. Maynard!!

  14. dragon
    Posted November 27, 2010 at 11:30 pm | Permalink

    Fucking wishbones. How do they work?

  15. imatuckytoo
    Posted November 28, 2010 at 11:40 am | Permalink

    I said I understand MOST, not ALL!!
    Happy Holidays to you and your wife and daughters.

  16. imatuckytoo
    Posted November 28, 2010 at 11:41 am | Permalink


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