Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Friends and Connections: Aw Nuts

Indulge me for a minute or two.

Just a quick story about a little thing. Now, in the grand scheme of is nothing. Just a moment passing between two friends. But to me it is more. A life lesson, a split-second that comes out of the air and makes you realize you have a connection to another human being that cannot be defined by a simple word.

If you have read my blogs with any consistency, there are a few characters who pop up from time to time. The drum-mamma is one of them. We used to be family, until one of us decided not to be. We still are family in every way that matters. A morning ritual of checking in via IM, text or phone call, is shoehorned between work schedules and family life. At one point during a mid-morning IM conversation, I casually mention I am eating pistachio nuts and drinking a glass of iced tea. "So am I" she writes back. "Are you freakin' kidding me?" "No."

So there you go. How do you explain two friends about 35 miles apart both deciding to have a pistachio nut and iced tea break at 10:30 in the morning. It's just a witchy bitchy thing we have going. It's also a moment which had us both laughing as we were typing every known acronym we knew, for nearly peeing in your pants.

Lesson for the day. Each 24 hours is made of single moments. They may not all be earth-shattering, but each one is unique.

Enjoy as many as you can.


Monday, May 28, 2012

Road Trip: The Weather Strikes Back

Back from the overnight road trip. Karma may be a bitch, but Mother Nature is even a bigger one.

The ride to my second assault on Danville was uneventful. The choice of hotel proved to be a good one and we anticipated a fun night of food, friends and music. Well, two out of three ain't bad. An outdoor event is always a bit iffy and last night, just at the time the show was scheduled to looked like the world was about to end.

We actually arrived to hear the second half of the last song during soundcheck. Hell, that sounds great. Ten minutes later the band was covering up anything which couldn't be removed easily. We grabbed some food and sat on the outdoor deck under table umbrellas. As the rain began slowly at first, we all continued to sit there, a little wet,  but hey it's only water. It was nice to catch up with the band and a few people I had met on my first trip down. The skies continued to grow more threatening and as the guy sitting next to be pulled up doplar radar on this phone (don't you just love technology), it was plain to see what was predicted to be scattered T-Storms was now a full-fledged weather front.

As the skies opened, the thunder and lightning which had been in the distance were now right over us. Might be the time to bring this party inside the bar.  Which is what we did, and is where we continued to talk, laugh and raise a few glasses. What can you do? The show wasn't gonna happen.  Later we heard on the news that a town not too far away received 3.5" of rain in 45 minutes. That is not good.

All in all, it was a night out, a chance to reconnect, and a road trip. Thanks to Hybrid Ice for almost kicking ass the whole night. Rick, Bob, Jason, Rusty and Chris... maybe Lock Haven in July. Can you say rain check?

I'll just say....Road Trip.


Saturday, May 26, 2012

Yum Yum, Eat 'Em Up: Maybe Not

Disclaimer: This post is not for the squeamish, easily offended or those about to eat a meal. I'm giving fair warning, don't go bitching later on about how repulsive, ghoulish and distasteful this is.  Blah, to the hand.

Here we go. Hold on, it's gonna be a bumpy ride.
I read this post yesterday and as an observer and writer...there is no way in hell I can let this go without a comment or three.

Tokyo Transsexual Cooks and Serves His Own Genitals at Public “Ham Cybele” Banquet, Police Shrug, “It’s Not Illegal”

So right off the bat, which is more disturbing?  The Act, or the fact that the police say cannibalism apparently is...ok with them. Let's start with the Act. So this guy has assorted appendages removed and he takes them home and puts them in the freezer. eeew factor #1.

He then decided to tweet an offer to cook his "leftovers" for a price of about $1250. I guess tweetville freaked a bit, so instead he organized a banquet where he served up a few meals of his delicacy to diners who paid around $250 for the chance to mangia on the meat. eeew factor #2.

However, it seems the entree was a bit disappointing. Apparently texture and taste were the issues. Really? Not the actual consumption? The story gave info on who the diners were and their reasons for indulging. Gotta wonder about how many had "buyers remorse."

As for the police...they report there is no law against cannibalism in Japan. Well that fact is certainly good to know before I book my summer vacation. Do you need to wait until someone dies or can you just whack off someone's pinky toe for a snack. I think we might need some clarification on this point.

Also, as a getting it correct point, although the headline calls this person a transsexual, it seems asexual is more the appropriate term. This post is not meant to comment negatively on his decision for the operation...only on his choice of disposal method.

If you are interested in the full story...complete with pre and post cooking pictures, eeew factor #3, click on the headline for the link

For everyone else...what are you having for lunch today?

Start the grill.


Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Dad's Journey: Another Day, Another Issue

Leaving the nursing home last night, I cried for the first time as I drove home. It was not a good visit with my Dad.

What awaits us today is anybody's guess.  I believe he is in his third week at this facility, exactly how long I can't remember. Along with my father's deterioration, my mind has also declined. Focus is increasingly difficult and forgetfulness is a new best friend. They hang out with my other two new acquaintances: exhaustion and irritability.

With each day, Dad is more depressed. With each day, he withers away a little more. With each day, I see him losing the fight. It now seems everyday there is a new condition to deal with.  A blood clot, a urinary tract infection, erratic bodily functions, wild swings of blood pressure...and of course the disease.

Last night he seemed like a stoke victim, could not stay awake and could barely speak. Whether it was a physical problem or something caused by new meds, must be determined. Living a long time does not make dying any easier.

As I sat with him, I could remember it wasn't so long ago when this wonderful man who can no longer understand the up or down position on the bed remote, could move with the agility of a man twenty years younger. Now, all I think about is how many more days, weeks or months he must endure this existence.

Today will be the first day I dread going to see him.

Love you Pops.


Saturday, May 19, 2012

Remember What Memorial Day Is All About

It's that time of the year again. This weekend and next, all over the country, Veteran's will be outside supermarkets, at bridges and in other assorted places looking for donations in exchange for a red paper poppy.

The story of the poppy is something like this. In Belgium during World War I, in the midst of the war ravaged battlefields, wild poppies grew. Their bright red color served as a reminder of the blood shed in the fight for freedom. The poppy has since become a symbol of all the human sacrifice by the men and women in uniform.

The poppies that are distributed today are made by hospitalized veterans and they receive a small stipend for their work. For some, this is the only supplemental income they receive. All funds taken in by the sale of the poppies are used exclusively for the therapeutic and financial benefit of veterans.

Each day we lose more and more men and women from the generation who fought in World War II. Those that are left grow more tired every day.  As we get closer to Memorial Day Weekend, please take a poppy from one of these brave veterans and give a donation.

And when the veteran looks at you and says thanks...please look back at him, straight in the eye and say "No, Thank You."


Thursday, May 17, 2012

Random Thoughts from A Scattered Brain

There's a lot of shit going on in my life at the moment. Some of it good, some...not so much. Over the past several weeks, it has been hard to focus on many things...especially a single subject to write about.

So, today...gonna do something a little different.

Random Thoughts. There are a bunch of things bouncing around my brain (apparently there is a lot of empty space for this to occur) and I think a sentence or two might be an easier way for me to go today.

Hang on, it might be a bumpy ride.

Things I have noticed at my Dad's nursing home:

  1. The heavy duty plastic dinnerware cups are opaque. They sometimes pour coffee into them and give you a teabag along with you think it is hot water. Have you ever tasted a mixture of coffee and tea? It is vile. 
  2. They will give you small cups of whipped fake butter but no bread or anything else you would want to use it with. They also give you coffee or tea, with no milk or sugar.
  3. No matter how wonderful the staff is, or how great the care sucks that someone you love needs to be there.
Bamboozle I am going to miss Bamboozle this weekend.  Having a vested interest in one of the bands playing "Something About January," I can't even begin to tell you how pissed I am about that. Such is life, sometimes things just don't work out.  I fully expect SAJ to kick ass on Saturday night. To the drum-mamma and the rest of the bands' mamma' retreat, no surrender. Show them what jersey girls are all about.

The New York Rangers: Seriously, I can't take another run for the Cup like 1994. I was soooo much younger then. I can no longer deal with each series going seven games, overtimes, icings and piss-poor play. Suck it up and crush the damn Devils.

The New Car. Except for the lack of a sunroof, I could not be happier. Driving it, there are times when I just want to keep going. If there isn't another blog post soon...maybe that's just what happened.  

Road trip anyone?


Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Hold Still Honey...That's A Great Shot

This reality thing is out of control.

Apparently there is nothing in this world that should not be documented for the purpose of social media. Case in point: A British woman on vacation at a South African Safari Park, was mauled by two her husband continued to take pictures. There are just so many directions to go with this one.

Now as a writer, I have the need to observe things around me. And, on more than one occasion I have been accused of being a cold-hearted... well you get my drift.  But I don't think even I could keep taking pictures while the person I love (I assume he loves his wife...but then again) is on the ground while two...not one, but two wild cats are deciding which parts of her body to have for lunch.

Click here for the story

Ok, I'll admit I might click a frame or two, but this poor woman had to wait for a guide from the park to pull off the second cheetah and then...a group of tourists helped out as well. Hubby kept snapping away. Later he said he thought the cats were "playing." Have you never seen a housecat play with a mouse before killing it?

Wouldn't you have loved to be a fly on the wall of her hospital room later that day? Now that would be a video worthy of youtube.



Monday, May 14, 2012

Rangers-Devils: It's Gonna Get Painful

And here we go again.

Tonight begins another round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Only now it gets personal. Rangers-Devils, best of seven...winner goes to the Stanley Cup finals. Can you say "1994?" I can...I remember it well.

We lived in Queens NY at the time, across the river from Manhattan. Each round of the playoffs became more intense as the team attempted to extinguish the chants of 1940 (the last time the Rangers won the Cup) from the rafters of road arenas. Richter, Leetch, Graves and of course, the Captain. Each knew what was expected from him...and they all delivered.

As a would have been more pleasant to be eaten alive by a pack of wolves. How many game sevens, how many icings in the last minute of play and how many freakin' overtimes can a fan be expected to survive.  But we did, and the champagne that night in June, was flavored with tears of joy and the taste of victory.

A new team with new heroes takes to the ice tonight. As a Ranger fan from the 70's, this Jersey girl has no allegiance to the team from her home state. Personally, I would love to crush the Devils in 4. Realistically, I'm expecting the large knot in my stomach to be a permanent fixture for at least 6 games. All you can ask for is a well-played game, no chippiness, no injuries and good officiating. Oh yeah...and a Ranger win of course.

The agony begins at 8 PM. Anyone hear the howling of wolves in the distance?

Go Rangers.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

It's A Small World After All

At what point in your life does the world become small again?

When we are born, the world is a very small place. As we grow older, our world expands. Our daily lives move from just your home, to going to school, to vacations with your family, to trips on your own as you become an adult. Then there is the moment in time when your world starts to shrink. That moment occurs sometime after you become a senior citizen.

The change does not happen overnight. At first, it is only the big things which go by the wayside.  The exhausting foreign vacations are replaced by domestic trips by car. When those become too strenuous, an overnight trip to somewhere close by is the replacement. Eventually, even that becomes too difficult and a big day out entails going grocery shopping and perhaps a trip to Wal-Mart.

When my father retired around 25 years ago, my mother still had a few years until her retirement could kick in. As soon as it did, they began a 3 month cross-country adventure. My family was always big on road trips and my father was a master of planning them. In the years before GPS or the internet, this man would figure out before we left home, where we would be on a Sunday morning, so my mother would be able to drag us to Sunday mass.

In the years after their See-the-USA trip, they returned to their beloved New Orleans many times, as well as the place where we spent so many of our youthful summers...Florida.  Eventually New Orleans became too long of a drive and they spent more time in another favorite spot, Charleston SC.  Several years ago even that trip was too long.  Their last trips consisted of two nights every month in Atlantic City. Still, not a bad feat for a couple in their 80's.

Now the only trip planned for my dad is one in his wheelchair, as he is moved from his bed in the nursing home to his physical therapy session. Except for his brief daily outing to another room in the facility, his world consists of a bed, a chair and a tiny view of the world from the window. His world has once again become very small.

The one thing I hope, is while he sits in that chair or stares at the ceiling from his bed, that he remembers all those days, months and years when the world was as large as he wanted it to be. I hope he can still savor all those five-star meals he and my mother were lucky enough to enjoy. I hope he is still thinking about all those laughs my brother and I had, while he watched our world grow so much larger.

I just hope he can remember.

Love you Pops.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

My Dad's Journey: A Long Week Later

It's now been a week since my dad was transferred from the hospital to the sub-acute section of the rehab center/nursing home. He has settled into a routine of anxiety and depression. He is unhappy, uncomfortable and unfortunately for him...more lucid than he has been in a while.

Yesterday, he developed a blood clot in his leg. Apparently between his limited mobility and his medical condition, the blood clot situation will continue to be an ongoing concern. You think to yourself, "Is it wrong to hope that a blood clot will offer a quick end to his life?" As opposed to seeing him slowly and painfully slip away. Life is never black or white, but when dealing with illness and quality of life, the gray areas grow larger every day.

Just as there was one day in the hospital where he and I enjoyed a private time with a few smiles and a few short stories, I was lucky to have another since he has been in his new home. But that was several days ago. Since then, his mind has cleared and his speech improved, but this has caused him to be more depressed. Being aware of what is happening to your body is not necessarily a good thing.

Yesterday was my mom's birthday. Today mom & dad were married 64 years. That number is unfathomable to me. We got together at his bed today to celebrate the day.

Everyone in the room, including my father was acutely aware there would not be a 65th anniversary.

Life is not fair, we all know that. Why, when our bodies are the most fragile, are we saddled with the most pain and the loss of all dignity. Watching a man who six months ago could read a medical journal, work on countless Sudoku puzzles and tell you the ERA of every pitcher on his beloved St. Louis Cardinals...not be able to comprehend the up and down buttons to raise or lower the truly heartbreaking.

As the gray areas of the codes we live by, swirl around us...your hopes for the man you adore change with every visit.  You desperately want him to get better, you know that's not realistic.

So instead, you hope for comfort. For him and for me.

Love you Pops.


Sunday, May 6, 2012

When Nelson and Lynn were in Istanbul...

So began the conversation. Where it went from that point, I don't know...I stopped listening.

As someone who puts fingers to keyboard in an attempt to create some interesting prose from time to time, I find inspiration in the oddest of places. Yesterday, a very mundane conversation about the different alert sounds I use on my Iphone strayed off course, when "the uncle" spoke those seven words.

"When Nelson and Lynn were in Istanbul."  Now, I've met this couple... but that fact had nothing to do with my fascination with that sentence.  Instead my mind raced with the possibilities. The setting had to be something out of a black & white movie from the 1940s.  Who were Nelson and Lynn... and why were they in Istanbul? 

I could almost picture Nelson standing tall in a double breasted suit and a fedora. Lynn in a tailored suit, a large brooch on her lapel...and on her head, a cloche with a large flower.

Were they undercover agents set to infiltrate a Turkish smuggling ring? Or the hot couple from Hollywood about to film a movie? Or were they just a husband and wife from Long Island on vacation?

As a writer, the possibilities are endless, but the challenge is deciding which direction to take. Will I take this contest to the next level? No, I actually know the answer to who Nelson and Lynn are, and why they were in Istanbul. The point of this exercise is to demonstrate how easily the mind can influence the imagination.

So, who are Nelson and Lynn, and why were they in Istanbul?
Use your imagination.


Saturday, May 5, 2012

My Dad's Journey: A New Home

The next step of my dad's journey is complete. He has been moved from the hospital to a rehab center/nursing home. He now resides in the sub-acute section of the facility. It's a nice enough place, and after the second day, we are more than satisfied with the care he is receiving.

The transfer went smooth. We were told what time he would leave the hospital, so my mother and I went to the rehab center to meet him there. After the endless paperwork and questions we were not nearly prepared for, we sat in his room for him to arrive.  When he did a few minutes later, he was nervous, scared and uncomfortable. The first few hours we were there, his mood did not change. We hoped, as we promised him tomorrow would be better...that it was going to be true.

Lucky for all of was. He seemed to like his nurse, and though he said he was not hungry...he asked me when they were bringing dinner.  For the first time since he was hospitalized, I watched as he fed himself. Very slowly and awkwardly...but he did it.

My mother had been there earlier in the day, followed by my brother & sister-in-law. Then the light of his life, his granddaughter and her husband arrived from out of town. To remind him of my parents'  several visits to Hawaii, they brought him a little hula dancer...a plastic toy that shakes her hips.

At first I was unsure of who brought him the toy. When he clarified that it was indeed my beautiful niece, I asked, "oh MC was here?"  "Yes," he said as the most beautiful smile came across his face. He was there in the moment, his mind clear and his vocal skills as good as they had been in months.

As an added treat, we were able to secure a little ice of his favorite things. He was tired, so I fed it to him and watched him savor each mouthful.

As we left, I felt better about not seeing him for the weekend. We leave him in the hands of the nursing staff and the rest of my family until Monday evening.

When the illness of a family member occurs so quickly, there are so many decisions to be made..and they need to be made quickly. Hopefully we have made the right ones. Comfort, security and good care are really all you hope for.

And a little ice cream at the end of the day.
Love you Pops.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Say It Ain't So Mo: Mariano Rivera ...ouch


I hate it when that's the first word that comes out of my mouth in the morning. But as I opened my eyes at 4:30 this morning, the local NY TV station began the newscast with the story of the greatest closer of all time, NY Yankee Mariano Rivera tearing his ACL. Fuck seemed to be the appropriate comment at the time.

Put a fork in him...done, at least for the season.

The first inkling of something wrong came through twitter from the Yankees. Mo was hurt shagging fly balls in the outfield during batting practice, something he has always done. A freak injury, catching his foot in the no-man's land where the outfield turf meets the warning track. The next tweet was more ominous. He had been carted off the field. Well that can't be good. Later they would say it was a twisted knee and an MRI in the morning. I saw the replay, the look of pain on his face did not look like a twisted knee. What it did look like was the end of his season. And it is...his career? Maybe.

Did I mention there has been a line of incredible thunderstorms going through? I take it as a sign that God is displeased by the injury to Mo. We, in the NY area have always assumed that God is a Yankee fan.

As I took the dog for a walk, the storm had died down and the rain stopped. That was, until I got to the halfway point of the's land.  Thunder, lightning and torrents of rain. And me & the dog.

Soaked does not even begin to describe the dog, and everything below my knees. My jeans, socks and walking shoes could not have been more wet if I pulled them out of a bathtub filled with water.

So now, is my day going to get better or just be one of those "the world is gonna piss on me today" days?
There is so much to get done today, I cannot even think about giving in to the bad karma.

No retreat, no surrender. For me and hopefully for Mo.


Thursday, May 3, 2012

Junior Seau: Another Sad Ending

You just never know what's going on in someone's mind. Sadly, that fact became evident again yesterday as we learned of the apparent suicide of  former NFL linebacker Junior Seau.

The words of San Diego Charger Coach Norv Tuner, who worked with Seau, stated the feelings we will hear from so many more friends, colleagues and family member in the days to come.

"I have no words to describe the passing of Junior Seau," Turner said. "It is a sad, sad day not only for me but for the whole sports community. . . . I can tell you no one had more character and true leadership ability than Junior. He brought passion to the game of football that was unmatched.

"His commitment to charitable causes in the community was inspiring. It was an honor to know him. My thoughts and prayers are with his family."

But in the end... we will never know where the dark thoughts began or why they would lead to his final decision.

Last year we had a suicide in our family. The effect is profound and long-lasting. There was a tweet this morning from @shanethevein which said "Killing yourself doesn't end the pain. It passes it on to others."

So very true.

To read about my personal experience with the death of my uncle, please read:
"The Word Which Changes Everything: Suicide" on Yahoo Voices.