The Good Press — Issue #6
Hello and welcome to another edition of The Good Press.
I hope that you find every issue of The Good Press to be worth your time.
This past weekend was Memorial Day weekend, a time meant to be a tribute to the memories of those we’ve lost to countless wars in our nation’s history.
Perhaps you’ve personally known military personnel who have lost their lives serving our country, and if so, I hope that this weekend was an opportunity to reflect on their lives and honor them in a way that feels meaningful to you.
Even if Memorial Day isn’t personal for you, I think we can all empathize with the feelings of losing people close to us. Nobody is immune to grief and loss.
I think the best way to honor those we’ve lost is to reflect on all the things that made them special to us, to celebrate their lives with fond memories. Grief and joy don’t have to be mutually exclusive. It’s ok to be somber one moment and joyful another, smiling from happy memories of those we love.
A few weeks ago, I wrote a tribute to my uncle in a piece about the music that has brought my close-knit family closer than ever. When he passed away, I remember being struck by the outpouring of love and support from so many.
Just Listen to the Music Play
A personal reflection on family bonds growing stronger and deeper through an appreciation of music across generations
As hard as the funeral proceedings were, there was also so much opportunity to smile and laugh and reminisce, as dozens and dozens of people recounted all the ways that my uncle had touched their lives, made them laugh, made them shake their heads and roll their eyes; he was just such a happy person.
A couple of days after we laid him to rest, my family gathered in my cousin’s backyard, about 10 of us all together. Till the wee hours of the morning we shared vivid memories of all the ways our lives were affected by my uncle, and there were more belly laughs than tears. I think it was a fitting tribute.
He was the type of guy who would’ve asked why we were all so gloomy, why we were all wearing so much black. He would’ve wanted more color, more laughing, more music, more joy. He would’ve loved that backyard gathering.
My father and uncle owned and operated a bagel café for over 20 years in White Plains, serving the local community their daily schmear and coffee. The bagel shop was sold three years ago, two years before my uncle’s passing, yet there were still so many customers who came to pay respects.
I have such vivid memories of that bagel store, which was part of my life since I was seven years old. In the beginning, my dad made the commute from Queens up to White Plains each morning, a trip I tagged along many times.
Even now, I still get nostalgic every time I take Exit 23N off the Hutchinson River Parkway, the slow, spiraling right turn that takes you to Mamaroneck Avenue in White Plains, a few miles down the road from the bagel shop.
I remember being in the passenger seat of my dad’s truck as a kid, the big extended cab truck that had room to haul all the bagel racks* in the back. It’d be about 4:45 am when we’d make those drives up to White Plains, I’d be asleep most of the ride, but I’d always wake up when I felt that slow, spiraling turn down the Exit 23N ramp, the surefire sign that we were minutes away.
*For the record, we were a boiled bagel establishment. If you put raw dough on racks in the oven, you won’t get a true bagel. You have to boil the dough before baking to get the soft inside and crispy outside. Never bake without boiling!
15 years before I’d ever had my first cup of coffee, I’d help my dad with the big self-service coffee containers at the front counter of the store. I had it down to a science, just as he taught me. He’d always remind the customers to order first so their food would be ready by the time they made their coffee.
In 2000, when I was 12, we moved from Queens to White Plains where my aunt, uncle, and cousins were already living. It made the commute easier, and it also led to my diet of way too many carbs that I’m still paying for today.
Now, 20 years later, my parents are in the process of putting the house up for sale. Helping them lug all the junk out of my room and into my car, I’ve had a flood of memories from the past two decades all coming back to me lately.
I wrote down some thoughts about moving forward to the next phase of our lives, to all the happy memories I have from the times we spent in that home.
I hope the next family that gets to live there gets to make a couple of decades of wonderful memories there. It’s a little surreal to me to think about the dwindling chances to take that slow, spiraling exit. It’s the end of an era.
Soon, my parents will be living in Florida, near my grandparents, and near over a dozen cousins from my mom’s side of the family. They’ve all made similar journeys retiring from Northeast winters to sunny Florida summers.
My mom’s side of the family is huge, especially compared to my dad’s side.
My grandpa is the youngest of eight siblings, 20 years younger than his oldest sister. Over many, many years, they all got married, had children, grandchildren, and some already have great-grandchildren these days.
For over 60 summers and counting, our big family has all gathered for a family reunion weekend, originally in the Catskills, now in the Poconos. Some years we’ve had over 80 family members attend, from the 80- and 90-year-old first-generation folks to infants and toddlers, and every age in between.
Usually, we’d gather in the first or second weekend of June. Due to the ongoing pandemic, this year will be the first year that we won’t attend a big in-person family reunion since the tradition started all those years ago.
Instead, one cousin had the idea for all of us to record our favorite memories to create a giant video collage to share with each other, to keep the spirit of the family reunion going this summer. I can’t wait to see the final cut.
Hopefully, in June of 2021, we’ll all be together again in the resort in the Poconos, sharing laughs, catching up with each other, winning Bingo games like we always do, to the chagrin of the other guests. I can’t wait for that.
Between my parents leaving White Plains, the final tether tying us to the city we lived in and worked in for so long, and the family reunion going virtual for hopefully just one summer, it’s given me a lot to reminisce about. So many happy memories over the years, so many things to reflect on and smile about.
It makes me wonder what memories we’ll build over the next 20 or 30 years.
I know that I want a beautiful ring for my partner, for us to get married and start a family of our own to bring to the family reunion weekend.
I want our future children to visit my parents, her parents, and hopefully, my grandparents as well. I want to see my brother awkwardly try to hold a baby.
I want to watch our future children grow up, watch them learn about the world, find interests and passions of their own, and follow their dreams.
The future may be unknown, but it’s rife with opportunity. I can’t wait to find out what comes next. I’m excited to build my future and make new memories.
Speaking of building things, my first recommendation today is Lego Masters, a television show that pits two-person teams of expert Lego brick builders against each other in a creative competition format, hosted by Will Arnett.
There were 10 episodes in this first American television version of Lego Masters, which you can watch on Fox on-demand, the Fox Now app, or Hulu, and it was a really delightful light-hearted watch throughout.
All of the builders on the show are unbelievable artists. As someone whose Lego creations always ended up extremely rectangular, it blows my mind how people can take regular Lego bricks and turn them into genuine works of art.
It was a fun, family-friendly watch for 10 episodes. Arnett seems to be having the time of his life hosting, and two Lego Brickmasters (yep, that’s a real job) judge the creations each week as teams compete to win a grand prize.
My other recommendation today is the KBO League, the Korean Baseball Organization league which I wrote about briefly back in Issue #3. There’s a 13-hour time difference so I’m not staying up late or waking up early to watch live, but it’s nice to be able to watch them at my leisure on-demand.
After a few weeks of catching four or five games a week on-demand on the ESPN app, I can say that the quality of baseball is pretty good, and the games have been entertaining even if I’m unfamiliar with most of the players. I enjoy watching/listening to them as background fodder for when I’m writing, too.
ESPN has done a really nice job with their remote broadcasts, often bringing in guests for an inning or two throughout the games, everyone from reporters to current and former KBO players to Korean baseball superfans.
It’s been nice to watch baseball in these interesting times we live in, and the KBO puts a good product out there on the field. It’s still a little strange seeing real games without a live crowd, but it’s a heck of a lot better than no games.
Last week’s issue was the longest one yet. Even six issues in, I’m not really sure what the best length is, but feel free to share your feedback and let me know if you have a preference. Most weeks I’ll probably switch it up depending on how many thoughts I have, whether any thoughts can be their own standalone piece on Medium to link to, etc. I don’t want it to be a screed.
I’m glad that my partner was so persistent in convincing me to get a new video game console. My brother raving about the baseball game put it over the top, but it’s a really great way to kill some time when you’re tired of being so productive. In all seriousness, I do think it’s important to be able to kind of turn your brain off sometimes and let yourself recharge with some easy fun.
I know it’s hard to see the weather get so nice and not have all the summer fun we’re used to having. Memorial Day weekend is usually the unofficial start of summer and outdoor activities. It makes you appreciate the little things like barbecues, picnics, pool parties, beach days, and bonfires.
Stay safe, and never let positive memories stray far from your mind.