One of the greatest storytellers of our age has left us. It’s amazing to think that our time basking in the rays of greatness has left us, but that’s wrong; that’s incorrect; that’s a disservice.

It’s also more complicated than that.

No one would blame you for saying that the world is a little bit darker today without someone once they’ve left us. When you think about the magnitude of character, the body of work, the incredible talent that had been offered to the world and then wrenched so violently and suddenly from it, yeah, there’s a gaping hole, a massive wound. The world is in fact darker as a result of their departure.

But that is not to say there is no sun. That is not to say that all light has vanished, and we are plunged into eternal night. There is the point where we do a disservice.

Anthony Bourdain was found dead Friday of an apparent suicide. I felt a deep sadness when I was told of it. Then I felt anger. Then I felt selfish. Why? Fuck, this is complicated. It leads down so many roads. What is selfish, and what is truly selfless, and is there any crossover that could possibly be allowed? I can think of no better word than “complicated.”

So, I want to explore this for a moment. A person comes into the world and gives freely of themselves that which they can offer, whatever their talents may be. Anthony evolved from a chef to a conduit for the world. His writing was amazing. He was a complex man, plagued by demons all his life, but through his battles with them, he found tranquility and he found that this world is remarkable. He gave us his incredible viewpoints through prose I can only describe as vivid, poetic, beautiful.

But through his passing, we are robbed of any more of his thoughts. We are no longer able to understand the world through his lens. Is it bad to feel selfish for that? I’m instantly now drawn to one of my other favorite writers, who also took his own life: Ernest Hemingway. Another complex man (though, arguably, a man of less redeeming qualities than Anthony), when I think of him, I don’t feel angry for him taking himself from us early. I accept his body of work as complete, because that’s the only way I’ve known it.

Is that it though? Is that why this bothers me? I knew Anthony as a living person but never knew Ernest as one? Why should such a thing matter? A man is a man, and he is nothing more. We should be lucky to have him and what he offers us, right?

Like I said, it’s complicated. There is no cut-and-dry. We spend our time in the sun, and we must use that time wisely. I believe we should use that time wondering and trying to understand what makes it so bright and why it makes us feel so warm.

Basically, I think the lives of others, like Anthony’s, boils down to this: what do you take away from their life, their opinions?

I was watching CNN’s remembrance special, and Don Lemon hit on a number of fantastic viewpoints. (Really, this is the importance of multiple opinions on any given subject; you just might find something you missed.) “It came to him naturally. He was just curious. Isn’t that what makes a good journalist?” That’s when I understood what I would take away from Anthony’s tragedy: his curiosity.

Working where I do, I am in a remarkable, fortunate position to learn so much about the world by encountering so many different kinds of people coming together to achieve the same goal of flight. But I don’t ask enough questions. I’m a writer who fails at learning, and that is far too remarkable in the wrong direction. We should be inquisitive about our world, and what makes are world are its inhabitants. They all have a self, and they all have a story.

Why don’t I ask more about those stories?

If I take nothing else away from Anthony’s life, it’s this: How to write with emotion and sense of scene and how to explore the world. Fuck, this hurts so much, but if I learn nothing, if I utilize nothing, if I squander all his expertise, then his loss is truly a void: Empty space. If we take nothing from one another, we stagnate, and they are invalidated, which is such a sad, horrible existence. It does a disservice to everyone.

Curiosity is what I will take from Anthony’s wonderful life. That is how I will choose to honor him. What do you do to honor a life cut short?

-The Retail Explorer

For My Best Friend

Holly in the Snow

It’s been posted about a few times already, but I wanted to say a few words about a good dog.

Last night, I lost my best friend, my partner-in-crime, my shadow. For 12 years, she was my constant companion, always beside me, always waiting for me. I feel so incredibly fortunate to have known this dog. Holly was the best, and I can’t be convinced otherwise. Yeah, she could be a pill sometimes, barked at EVERY NOISE SHE THOUGHT SHE HEARD, and once ate through her cone of shame and licked her outer suture open, but she was the sweetest, smartest, most fun dog I’ve ever known.

She shook hands, gave high fives, balanced treats on her nose, crawled, and spoke with a loud, ringing voice. She even taught herself how to play dead. Over the past couple of years, she began to lose a step or two, but her spirit never faltered. She was always my little bear, and never changed from that amazing girl. She never met a pool or a tennis ball she didn’t like. And squeaky toys were meant to be ripped apart to attack the damn squeaker within.

She was my roadtripper. From Lubbock to Fort Worth to Corpus Christi, she was awesome in the backseat and longed to feel the breeze in her face. She endured numerous moves, and while I knew this one would be her last, I didn’t expect our time to end so soon, but she had done her duty. She made sure I was safe and settled and that everything would be alright, that we would be alright without her. I made sure to tell her every day that I loved her and give her good head and rump scratches.

As pet owners, we prepare ourselves for this eventuality. We know it’s coming some day (and I knew this was coming for her as well), but it’s never easy, and it never gets any easier. Letting go of family is the hardest thing you’ll ever do in life. Today seems harder than yesterday, and who knows how tomorrow will be. All I know is it will feel lessened without her presence.

I will forever cherish coming home Wednesday evening after work to see her eager, happy face waiting for me at the back door, watching me get out of my car and come inside. That was what she did when she wasn’t with me; she waited for me and was always there for me. She was amazing, remarkable, and unforgettable. I will never forget all the good times we shared.

There will be no one more summer for us, no one last countdown into the pool, but she has eternity for that. Kristen said it best: She’ll be barking at everyone who comes close to the gates of heaven, not to ward them away but to let everyone know a new friend has come to play ball with her.

I’m grateful she never was seriously sick or had any major health issues. She lost some hearing but could still hear a squeaker a mile away and retained the vision of a hawk. I’m also grateful that age can no longer restrain her from the things she loved doing most in her time with me.

I know this is long (and I’m sure more memories will come back to me throughout the days to come), but I could sing her praises all day. Above all, she was a good girl, and I don’t think there’s any higher praise for a dog than that.

I’ll miss you, Holly Bear. Thank you for being my friend.

Holly “Bear” Moore
1.2.06 – 4.11.18

John Mahoney 1940-2018

This one hurts. I loved his work. Especially Frasier. He was brilliant as retired-cop Martin Crane. He was the heart and soul to that show, the anchor that kept every other character grounded. His blue-collar cop was the perfect foil for his son, the white-collared Dr. Frasier Crane, noted radio psychiatrist. And that role is the one for which he will be most fondly remembered.

Always sweet and genuine, his performances felt real, no matter which shoes he wore. Both the screen and the stage are lessened as a result of his passing. He had a smile that could warm you just from the thought of it. Seriously. Think about his smile right now. If you don’t feel a little happier, you’ve got a screw loose.

Marty was always my favorite character on Frasier, behind, of course, Eddie, but he and Marty were pretty much a package deal anyway. He will live on, forever, in my warmest memories, thinking about two of the greatest sitcoms ever and how he made them better. I’m sure Duke’s got a cold one waiting for ya, Marty.

-The Retail Explorer