News, notes & opinions: January 2018

Back in the 2000s, I was in a smoky bar on New Year’s Eve. A new law had been passed, and at the stroke of midnight, smoking no longer would be allowed indoors.

Back in the 2000s, I was in a smoky bar on New Year’s Eve. A new law had been passed, and at the stroke of midnight, smoking no longer would be allowed indoors.

Everyone was taking advantage of the last few moments of freedom; even the nonsmokers. It was a disgusting scene, or it would have been if you could see anything through the smoke.

At that moment, I made up my mind.

“To start the new year, I am going to quit smoking,” I announced to congratulations, as we all ashed in the ashtray simultaneously.

Midnight came, and everyone kissed. And a tired bartender made the rounds and collected all of the ashtrays. He announced to anyone smoking that they needed to take it outside. This, I decided, did not include me, because I was no longer a smoker.

The celebration continued, and I thought to myself, be proud. Be proud you have resolved to make your life better and healthier. And I wouldn’t smell like smoke. So many good reasons, I told everyone.

“Hey, guess what?” a friend intervened. “The bar next door is still letting people smoke inside.”

“Let’s go,” I said.

The next day, I felt shame. I resolved not to make anymore New Year’s resolutions.

The idea that one specific day is any better than another to change your life is crazy. A new calendar isn’t a life hack. Basically, when you make a New Year’s resolution, you are deciding, at some point in the near future, you are going to make yourself feel terrible.

But that’s not to say there isn’t some merit to a resolution. It always is a positive thing to try to be a better you. So, instead of one big resolution to ring in the new year, I’ve resolved to do a bunch of small, attainable things. And I’m not going to wait until a new year begins.

So, I try little things, like when I build a Scoody-Doo-sized sandwich and I keep the refrigerator open for 30 minutes during construction. Now, I grab everything I need and close the door before the leftovers start to sweat.

When someone cuts me off on the highway, instead of assuming the other car is out to destroy me and responding with Punisher-like fury, I take a deep breath and let it go. And, of course, curse them forever under my breath like a normal person.

When there is a mess that I have made, I clean it up. When I owe someone an apology, I apologize.

When someone sends me a text to do something I have no interest in doing, instead of pretending I didn’t see the text for two weeks, I text them back right away. And I tell them no. And we remain friends.

Basically, I’ve waged war against my laziness with little steps that fly under lazy’s radar. I won’t say these have been life altering changes. But it’s nice to be a responsible adult.

—Dave Manley


Each year, the staff at About magazine makes a great selection for its “Person of the Year.”

This year is no exception, with Canton police officer LaMar Sharpe deserving of that recognition for his continued work in the city, particularly in the southeast end.

Sharpe serves as a role model throughout our community, particularly among youngsters, showing them a friendly face behind the uniform. He and a core group of supporters to his causes often contribute their own money for food or school supplies for kids and their families.

And, as do the other hundreds of men and women in Stark County who wear a police badge each day, Sharpe performs his job knowing its inherent dangers.

In a way, that could be the main criterion for “Person of the Year” status. Because, really, anyone who does a job we couldn’t or wouldn’t do—such as being the first one to rush to a scene where bullets are flying or flames are lapping the side of a building—qualifies as such a person in each of our daily lives.

You know what kind of jobs we’re talking about. Most involve some kind of bodily fluid or dirt and grime. The world is filled with people who work janitorial jobs and swab commodes and other nasty places; nurses and orderlies who clean bedpans, blood and barf; sanitation workers who handle our garbage. God bless them all.

And it’s not just the “gross” jobs that require that special someone. It takes a certain composition to work in the mental health field or with special needs kids or as a social worker in children’s services or as a mortician or at the bedside of someone dying in a hospice unit. Those people, with their dedication, care and compassion, qualify as “Persons of the Year” without question.

How about the people who don’t exploit their superior knowledge for personal gain? Maybe it’s a mechanic who says your car is fine after another business has said it needs hundreds of dollars of repairs. Or the appraiser who offers fair value for an item or who saves you from parting with grandma’s rare teacup for a buck at a yard sale. They would get our vote for “Person of the Year.”

If you see Officer Sharpe around town, congratulate him on this well-deserved award. Also take a moment to consider all of the people in our lives who do the dirty work or who use their expertise for the good of the community. They are “People of the Year” in their own right.

—Rich Desrosiers

About a month ago, Time Magazine started coming up with ideas for its popular “Person of the Year.” Familiar names were tossed around. Donald Trump. The #MeToo movement. Jeff Bezos. Kim Jong Un.

It got me to thinking: Who’s my Person of the Year? The person who has had the greatest influence on me in 2017.

That list is hard to narrow. Easily, it could be my wife, who has persuasive influence, if you will. It could be my son, who has adjusted better than I could have hoped as a college freshman.

My Person of the Year is my uncle, Craig Wise. He was diagnosed with Stage IV small-cell lung cancer that spread to his brain. His diagnosis was made in April after he spent about a week in the intensive care unit. Since that time, he chose to undergo chemotherapy and radiation. When the drugs and the radiation seemed to sap him of what little energy he had left, Craig didn’t just roll over.

He fought.

And he fought.

And he has kept fighting.

Doctors will tell you small-cell lung cancer that has spread to the brain is among the worst kind out there. It is aggressive, and it is fast. It is unrelenting.

And I supposed doctors are right. They have case studies on their side. They know his odds are long. Craig knows his odds are long.

However, there aren’t many people who have faced the illness he is facing with the kind of courage and grace Craig has.

Craig is as strong as he’s been since April. He recently started driving again.

But doctors have told him he’s dying.

Aren’t we all?

I don’t know how much time my uncle has left; none of us knows the answer to those questions. What I do know is I have spent most of my adult life learning from him.

I didn’t think I could learn much more.

Then this.

My Person of the Year isn’t someone most of you know. My uncle, who taught me how to golf and how to treat a lady on a date, is teaching me how to live now. And if that isn’t Person of the Year material, I don’t know what is.

—Todd Porter