Monday, November 30, 2009

WTF? :-( OMG! :-) CUL8R...

It's amazing what's happened to the English language in the past ten years.

It's become shortened, hyphenated, and now truncated into its own semaphore language reminiscent of the Morse Code that the radio operator on the Titanic used to contact other ships after she hit the iceberg.

And we all know how well that ended.

I think it's endemic of what's happened to our society. We live in an increasingly faster, busier world. The nuclear family has been atomized (ya like that pun??)...

Mom doesn't stay at home anymore. She can't.

She's gotta work...so she can pay for daycare.

There's soccer clinics, fat camps, spring break, and the new 110" TV for the bathroom that she's gotta pay for.

Dad's working his ass off as well. He's paying for the two Escalades, the second and third mortgages, and his daily Starbucks visit, which is more than all three mortgages and the car payments combined.

Those Double-Mocha-Latte-Frappucino-Espresso-Ass-Kickers are expensive, eh?

Anyway, I was introduced to the world of texting by Becky earlier in the year and quickly got on board. I loved being able to mother-fucker some client of mine in their lobby without them knowing it. Especially if he made me sit for an hour waiting for him. It was our own secret language that gave me freedom to be a dick, but in a cool passive-aggressive way.

Soon, texting became the preferred method of communication. I started to miss the good old days. You know, where you could talk passively on the phone while doing eighty-five through a school zone, oblivious to the flashing yellow lights and crossing guards?

We need all this technology, don't we? It allows us to multi-task and get everything done during the day so we can spend more time with the family. Right? I mean, that was the goal when we walked into the Verizon store and ended up with six lines, e-mail, texting, video downloads, and unlimited access to Napster...except only on Tuesdays and every other January.

So we then give our kids cell phones so they can stay in touch with us; so we can have an idea of their whereabouts. You text your kid and ask him "Where r u?" and he texts you back...

From inside his locked bedroom.






*

The Dash

"The dates of birth and death that appear on a tombstone do not matter as much as the dash between those dates. The life that a person lived."

Wow. I love that statement...






*

If Only Roger Ebert Could Be a Life Coach.

I've got a buddy who I've been going to the movies with for years. We're those big summer tentpole kind of moviegoers. We love the franchise flix, ya know, the "Star Wars" and "Indiana Jones" movies that are loud, action-packed and ultimately, very unfulfilling.

For more than twenty years now he drives me crazy when we leave the theater. On the ride back home or over coffee we'll ask each other what we thought of the movie.

"I think," he'll always say, "that it would have been better if they would have........."

Fill in the blank.

He will then go on and say that "Star Wars, Episode One" would have been way cooler if they would have had a WWII Sherman tank blow away a few Germans during the climactic space battle.

Or "Lawrence of Arabia" would have been more realistic if he had black hair and wore a really cool hat.

Or "Spider-Man" would have been more believable if Peter Parker lived in Moline, Illinois instead of New York City.

Which leaves me with a WTF? look on my face as he describes something so ridiculous that I can't believe that we just watched the same movie. In the same theater. At the same time.

My point is that his critiques always seem to deride the film for something that was extrinsic to the story. In other words, he hated the story not for what it was but for something he wanted it to be.


I think we do that with people or relationships as well. Movies should be judged for what you see on the screen and nothing more. Don't judge it on hidden subtexts, what the novel had and the film version doesn't, or...you get the idea.

If you want a certain film to have, say bigger explosions, or more bouncing boobs, that's not the filmmaker's problem. It's a problem relating to your expectations.

People are the same way. Aren't friendships and dating all about expectations? What you think that person may be about? Do we sometimes, unfairly, judge someone for what you think they are rather than what they truly are?

It's not fair to them, is it?

We base our judgements on people partly by what they tell us about themselves. If they say they are loyal, obedient and trustworthy don't we believe them? It's then up to them to follow through with those qualities.

If they do, great.

If they don't you either realize it and re-assess that person as a friend or blindly keep listening to them tell you how loyal they are as one arm goes around your shoulder in a loving embrace while the other hand buries the knife between your ribs.

Nonetheless, we sometimes want people to be what they aren't, can't be, or refuse to be. That's why so many marriages end in divorce. People come in with unreasonable expectations, they don't know their significant other very well, or worse yet, hope to change what they don't like.

I've heard that many times from friends.

I thought I could change him...

I figured she loved me enough to stop doing...

And on it goes.

Most of us aren't too deep; it's usually right there on the surface. Don't make it any more difficult than it is. And for God's sake, make sure you ask the right questions.

After all, when you meet a new "friend" or date someone for the first few weeks, aren't most of the questions like a job interview?

If they're not, you're doing something wrong.

It really is okay if life is like "Star Wars." Just don't expect "Citizen Kane" instead.

Or more bouncing boobs.











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Sunday, November 29, 2009

Love is a Many Splintered Thing...

I was talking to one of my young son's friends recently and it seems this little guy has his first real crush. Ya know, one of those from-afar romances that isn't really a romance? He is head-over-heels, triple-two alarm in love with this sweet young thing and she, of course, has no idea that he occupies the same space as she does.

He asked my advice, and of course being the old man who has no personal stake in the whole situation, told him to go for it.

Nothing ventured, nothing gained.

He really wants to know what love is, and asked me point-blank what I thought it was.

Wow.

Ask your own parents kid cuz I got no fuckin' clue.

I attempted a half-ass answer and blathered on about biology and twitterpation and god knows what else. It's a little scary and I haven't felt this much anxiety in talking with a kid since I had the "talk" with Alex a half-dozen Christmases ago regarding the truth about the fat man in the red suit.

So, two hours and a few dozen Chipotle BBQ buffalo wings later, we both had a better grasp on what love might be...

Ya ready for my take on it?

Well, here it goes anyway:

Let's go back to when we were nothing more than glorified monkeys. Little Og was bending over getting a drink at a stream, her backside exposed. Oomp was walking by, looking for something to hunt and sees her butt up in the air. Instinctively, he walks over to Og and starts to hump her. That was the first step towards something called "love."

I think, to a large degree, "love" is a biological ruse. The elation you feel when you see your girlfriend walk into a room is nothing more than nature's way of kick-starting your sex drive so we can carry on the species.

It's a simple equation: No fucking equals no human race.

But, and try to complicate matters for a fourteen year old's simple view of the world, it doesn't merely end there.

Monogamy is unnatural. The idea of spending your life with only one person and giving them all your attention goes against the laws of nature, and Vegas odds. Men are no different than lions or grizzly bears. We're meant to spread our seed far and wide, impregnating as many females as possible to ensure our own selfish bloodline, right? It's a matter of simple Darwinian science that we see everywhere else in the Animal Kingdom.

If you're willing to defy the Laws of Nature for a woman then you're already halfway there.

It seems that most of us, like Catholics or pigeons, try to mate for life. And here's where I started to make some real ground with this kid.

Love is that phenomenon that brings out the very best in our species. When we become selfless and try to defy those laws of nature we are truly human. Not a primate, an evolved monkey or even a creature of God. We are unique among primates (well, except maybe for bonobos) in that we care for our mate's continued survival and moreso, their well-being.

Let's get past the biological ruse that "love" makes us feel. The rapid heart rate, the emotional rollercoaster, and the flushing of the face are all biological triggers to get us to mate. Yet we look past that, and protect our mate's feelings as important to us as our own.

We pair off and become an active part in that person's life.

We talked more and more about how to treat a lady. Both my son and his buddy were schooled in Romance 101 that day. The basics? Holding doors open for them; buying flowers or candy is paramount when dating someone; calling just to say hello; holding them above their peer group and not being afraid to take some shit from their buddies...

After exhausting most of the afternoon, I think I learned something as well.

Love is grand.

And reinforced something in me that makes all the difference in the world: We are apes, and our DNA is almost 100% the same as a gorilla's or chimpanzee's. Yeah, many of us do bail after mating and never call that girl again, but when we do meet the right one we care about her survival more than our very own. And that's what separates us from every other animal on the planet.

That's love, and we've come a long way from Oomp's creekside humping session.

Well, at least most of us have.

We left the restaurant stuffed on wings and conversation. I smiled and did an imaginary fist pump as I felt I truly enlightened my son's friend. The wise old man giving a young cub the wisdom to tackle his high school years with confidence and understanding.

As we got into my car he pulled his door shut and said, "But Mr. Lumley, what do women really want?"



Oh, shit.







*

Jagermeister Meisterjager




When Alex was born I lost whatever gene I had that allowed me to go out late, consume a shitload of alcohol, and wake up the next day in a detoxified state. I've been drinking iced tea for the better part of fourteen years. Not Long Island Iced Teas, but plain-old Lipton, homemade boring tea. With lots of sugar.


Lately though that daddy gene has become somewhat recessive and I've been finding myself making up for lost time. Kind of like Robert De Niro in that awful wake-up-and-smell-the-Oscars movie "Awakenings."


I've been burning the candle at both ends for the past few months and the results have been somewhat mixed. However, I'm leaning towards the "Fuck, Yeah!" side of it all. Now, I'd never tell my fifteen year old son that drinking is a good thing...there's a downside to the whole milieu. Ya know, DUIs, death, waking up next to a girl that you never would have if you were sober, dropping this month's car payment on a few rounds...the big dangers.


But the upside has been positive for me. I've rekindled a lot of friendships, look forward to our Tuesday night get-togethers, and have learned a whole new vocabulary. Phrases like "Red-Headed Slut," or "Washington Apples" have become a part of my vernacular. My bartender knows me by first name, my cats' names, and my dog's age and weight.


What's been the real downside? Hmmm...


I can't remember. A few too many jager bombs have dulled the senses...


*

Explore. Dream. Discover.

I saw Mark Twain's final resting place a few years ago in Elmira, New York. For such a literary giant he's buried in a very unassuming grave. I expected some marble edifice the likes of Grant's tomb, the Taj Mahal, or a big Wal Mart store. But the man had a Midwestern sensibility that belied any pretension like that.

I loved Huckleberry Finn when I was a kid, but most of his stuff grew cold to me as I got older.

One of his more famous quotes that I remember was that "Golf was a nice walk, ruined."

I saw another quote on Facebook tonight that is attributed to him. I'll poach it and assume it is a Twain quote. But if it's not, who cares...I love it anyway.Check Spelling

This is for my Toxic Love Support Group posse; heed this bard's words.

"Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover."
 

Sounds like a Little River Band tune, but only cooler.

Right?





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Saturday, November 28, 2009

Look closely at this picture...





What do you see? Come on, look really close...

It's right there in front of you.

Do you see it?

Of course not.

Because you can't see the intangible.

I see six people, two guys and four ladies. One of them lives in Virginia; one of them just moved to Michigan from North Carolina; one is former military; one has transplanted herself to our state capitol; one told me she has now changed last names for the third time in her life and one has been unemployed in this rust-belt economy for the better part of a year.

Look at their faces; smiling and enjoying some holiday cheer at a birthday party we were all invited to for a lady we barely know. For a few hours, all the family problems, job issues, and whatever common angsts we share were parked outside along with our various SUVs, mini-vans and family trucksters.

Erin, the birthday girl, summed up to me the basic kinship that Northeast Ohio people share. We're salt-of-the-earth with a BS radar the size of the Hubble Telescope and the ability to see the best in others, without too much pretension.

After a few hours, and the heaven-sent cheap beers and shots that the Elks Club provides, the group meandered to a local bar. We sat and (tried) to talk over the Peaveys that the band was using. My ears were ringing, and we joked that we're not kids anymore. One of us said that she would enjoy the music a little more if it just wasn't so damn loud.

We're getting older.

But our kinship goes back to childhood.

Now, we're just forty-somethings talking to former classmates; looking forward to tomorrow and barely discussing the halcyon days at Elyria High.

Drinking a beer and enjoying the music; one overwrought, ear-piercing decibel at a time...





*

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

The Grateful Not-Dead

Well, another year is quickly jumping into the record books and it's been a hell of a ride. I don't think I've ever had such a crazy, topsy-turvy year like 2009. I've gotta look back and put it all into perspective.

But not today.

I think a little objectivity comes with removal. Kind of like the 1982 Oscars..."Gandhi" seemed like a good choice then, but looking back...WTF?

"E.T." should have won hands down.

And 1989? "Driving Miss Daisy?" Really? In my world it was "Field of Dreams" all the way.

Oh well.

So I'm not gonna give '09 any serious consideration until at least Arbor Day of next year.

However, I can partake of tomorrow's holiday without planting my tongue firmly in my cheek and put perspective into what I'm truly thankful for.

I have a fantastic kid. I'm truly lucky to have someone as good as him in my life. All I can say is that I'm a better person for having Alex near me; he exudes such radiance and gives me a reason to get out of bed when the chips seem to be stacked against me. I've said he's lucky to have me as his father, but it's much more of a gift to have him in my life.

I'm grateful to have air in my lungs. And more importantly being able to breathe that air under my own power.

This year has taught me that my friends are bedrock. Without them there's no context.

I love seeing bald eagles soar in free flight fifty feet over my head. At no other time do I feel as free or alive when I witness that...

What would the world be like without Bob Marley? Or Eric Clapton? I'm thankful for Ladysmith Black Mambazo. And vintage Dean Martin LPs, with or without the rest of the Rat Pack.

My dog Spencer is the best dog. Ever.

I miss Rox. Her death has made me grateful for our time together and how much I have taken the simple things for granted.

I love my i-Pod. 64 gigabytes of geek nirvana.

My car, a gray HHR "milk truck." It's not too sexy but it's taken Alex and I on two trips this year to Virginia. Our Made-in-America weekend escape pod.

And, yes, how could I talk about 2009 and not mention Becky? Even if our romance was a small blip in my life's time line I'm glad we got to experience so many new things together.

One of this year's highlights? The chance to show three boys and a bored wedding photographer a black bear sow with her tiny cub in a tree in Tennessee. I think Becky really enjoyed that moment; her eyes sure bugged out of her head...and for a brief moment I think she caught a glimpse into my world and what I see as pure, undefinable magic.

I look forward to next year. What's on the radar for '10?

Yellowstone.

Grand Tetons.

Bison up close and personal.

Hopefully a mountain lion or two.

Many, many more evenings with my friends.

And, to poach a little Shakespeare, the undiscovered country.

But for now, the cranberry sauce and turkey awaits.

And tomorrow, I'll be tryptophaning the light fantastic.




*

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Stop Coasting.

Ya know, for years I've been hearing that Cleveland lies on the "North Coast."

It's always on the radio, and jocks refer to the weather here on the North Coast, or the best deals to be found on the North Coast, and...well, you get the idea.

First of all, there's no coast to be found anywhere near Ohio. Miami has a coast, I guess Barbary has a coast, and Australia has lots of coastline.

We're on a lake. We have a shoreline. So does Buffalo. And Erie. And Toledo.

I guess "coast" is sexier. It makes us sound pretty cosmopolitan, like South Beach or the Mexican Riviera.

And I guess "North" is incorrect too. We're situated on the Southern shore of a large lake.

If you're gonna call us anything at least be geographically sound.

We're the "South Shore."

I know it's not as catchy but it's correct.

But I guess even North Coast is better than our old adage: "The Mistake on the Lake."

And, for what it's worth, the only way to properly use "coast" in relation to Cleveland is how the Browns and Indians handle their seasons.






*

Raising the Metaphorical Roof

Had lunch with a friend the other day and he related a metaphor to me that reeked of brilliance. Like most metaphors, anecdotes, similes, parables and other literary high-mindedness the brilliance was in its absolute simplicity.

Like most of my peer group, he is in his early 40s. And like most of us, is going through a renaissance of clarity. Lately, he's realized a few things about himself and is working hard to come to terms with that "self."

Try this one on:

We're all houses.

No "like" installed in there for a simile...

We, literally, are houses.

Some of us are built better, have a stronger foundation and can weather any type of storm.

Others are a house under construction. The plumbing's been installed but the drywall is sitting in a pile against one of the interior walls, waiting to be hung. I guess that reference would be about most pre-kindergarten kids learning to tie their shoes, say their ABC's and not pee their pants because they have to go real bad and teacher won't let them...

My friend is delving deep into this whole metaphor and really taking it to its absurd, yet ridiculous, conclusion.

He recently had an epiphany about himself that rocked his metaphorical foundation; thank god the cement used in his footer was especially thick. One of those long-hidden, deeply-suppressed realizations popped to the surface over our Perkins over-priced hamburgers and cold french fries.

He found his fatal flaw, the one thing that has derailed many of his adult relationships. Quoting that old adage that "99% done is still 100% undone," he said he feels like a house without a roof.

That kind of dwelling isn't very useful, is it?

He feels the same way.

Now that he has realized what it is, he's going to work hard on getting that roof built, trusses first.

I love the fact that he has found the power to realize this; and even more so that he's taking the time to deal with this, even at our advanced age.

My roof's on pretty tight, I think. I just enjoy raising it once in awhile.

And tearing it off and re-shingling it every so often.





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Monday, November 23, 2009

The 32 Days of Christmas

I turned the radio on this morning and about pooped my dockers as I heard a non-stop barrage of Christmas music flow from my HHR's factory-installed speakers.

Although the sound quality from factory tweeters is pretty good, my ears really aren't ready for the sixteen or seventeen songs they are going to play to death 24/7 until Christmas night thirty-two nights from now.

I understand it's been a soft year for retailers and they need to have a good fourth quarter but, Jesus H., do they really need to remind us every second of the day that 'tis the season? And, come on, how many different versions of "Silent Night" and Rudolph can you hear before you want to go postal on some poor mall Santa?

And, just for the record, that fucking Chipmunks Christmas CD from the '60s makes me want to punch an old lady in the head...

I love Christmas, I really do. But I'll be boycotting 102.1 until at least December 15th, when I'm getting in the mistletoe-laden mood.

Each year I tell myself that I'm going to relish the season and enjoy the month of December.

We stopped putting up a tree a few years ago, not in solidarity with any anti-commercialism movement, but rather because my three cats think they're mountain lions and like to climb the tree and pounce on me when I unsuspectingly walk into the living room.

Have you ever walked into a room, illuminated by the soft glow of Christmas lights, and had a seventeen pound black cat leap out of nowhere? Nothing like a mild heart attack and an emergency room visit during the holidays...

And they like to eat the garland. It's fun cleaning the litter boxes and being greeted by glittery, silver-laced cat poop.

So, like hot tubs, fish tanks, and boats, we go to other people's houses to enjoy the Tannenbaum.

I want to feel the spirit of the season this year. No, not the birth of Jesus, or the rush of standing in freezing temps on Black Friday at four in the morning at Wal-Mart for a cheap widget with four hundred whiny people burping and farting the previous day's Thanksgiving turkey, but the good will that the holidays seem to inspire.

I volunteered my son and myself to work in a soup kitchen every weekend until Christmas. We're gonna give a little back, and maybe get something in return.

This year we're gonna have a Christmas party. Not a holiday party, a Festivus gathering, or a non-denominational get-together. It's gonna be an old-fashioned Christmas ho-down with Bing singing "White Christmas," mistletoe, Santa hats, jingle bells, and egg nog spiked with some Jack.

I've invited forty-six people. I live in a condo. I don't think we're breaking any fire codes. I guess we'll see when the marshal shows up and joins us for a little yuletide festivities. Kind of like "It's a Wonderful Life" when the cops tear up the arrest warrant for George Bailey and get smashed on rum punch with Clarence the Angel. I figure, if everyone shows up and brings someone I'm gonna have one hell of a festive evening.

It's enough to get the Yule Log a little stiff, ya know?




*

Saturday, November 21, 2009

As my Grade School Principal Used to Say...

I've seen a lot of relationships self-destruct this year. No less than four of my close friends have either gotten a divorce or are in the throes of one. I don't know if it's some middle-aged quandary or a re-assessment of goals and ambitions. No matter what the problem is, I think many of my friends are asking themselves the big question:

"Is that all there is?"

And, unfortunately, and with no impunity towards Peggy Lee, they all seem to be receiving the same answer.

I used to work with a woman years ago whose parents were married for almost thirty-five years. Abruptly, they decided to divorce. My friend was devastated and had a lot of animosity towards her aging parents for this decision.

I was young, twenty or so, and pondered their decision. Was it cowardly to bail on each other? Decidedly, thirty-five years was a long time. After thinking it over, and convincing my friend it was the right thing, I decided that if it wasn't meant to be, they were still strong to try to start over and find the happiness that seemed to be missing for a long time.

One of my best friends just finalized his divorce on November 2nd. Another is experiencing the yin and yang of separation. It's inevitable that they'll be done soon. Probably before Christmas. My heart really breaks for them and the pain they're going through.

What I don't understand is the animosity that creeps in; the emotions that sabotage an otherwise-rational person (or people) and make them behave with no objectivity or sanity.

I hate to see people treat themselves and their former lover/best friend with the venom I see. How can two people hate each other so much when they used to lay in bed, holding each other, and vowing forevers in their nightly kisses?

I'll tell you why: Because the opposite of love isn't hate...

It's apathy.

Hate is love's evil twin. They go hand and hand, like Romulus and Remus, Luke and Leia, and Sonny and Cher.

When you love someone it's easy to hate them.

They hurt you, you hate them. And you hate them, momentarily, because you either love them or because you feel betrayed.

How could the person who whispered "forever" in my ear be with someone else? How could they leave me for...

A new person? A younger version of me?

A new career?

Or worse yet, nothing new at all?

I think they'll be alright. It may take a few months or even years, but they'll come through this. And be stronger for it.

Once they get through the emotions, unfurl the tangled web of feelings they have for their former spouse, the journey won't seem as bad.

But the clarity will finally give them apathy for their ex...and that's the best they can hope for.

As my grade school principal said every morning for six years, "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you."

The best I can hope in return for my friends is that their ex-spouses will have the same apathy back for them.

It's an inevitability; and I know it will happen.

Thanks, Peggy Lee, you sang it best.





*

Count Your Blessings...


Be thankful for what you have...






Stop complaining about how hard life is...


























...and what, maybe, you don't have.




So says an atheist.






*



A Slow News Day





Sometimes I got nuthin'.
Sometimes I look at a few pictures and they make me laugh.
Hope you like these too...
*

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

The Ghost of Christmases Past.

A good buddy of mine sat with me last summer commiserating that as we get older, life starts taking away more things than it gives you. We were lamenting, over teriyaki wings and Labatt Blue, that so many illnesses and hardships are affecting a lot of our friends.

For sure, it's been a difficult year for a lot of people. But every so often something pops up to restore your spirit, and make you feel better about being somewhat closer to earth than birth.

Sometimes things just happen. Can't explain why.

They just do.

When we were kids there was an unspoken understanding that my best friend and I would graduate from high school and get an apartment. It was never really discussed; it would naturally happen, oh, three or four days after commencement.

Then he had to fuck it up by joining the Air Force. Damn him. Then he got married and eternally destroyed our plans for a cool crash pad with air hockey tables, Asteroids arcade machines and a pet chimpanzee to keep us company on our drinking binges.

Oh well. So much for the understanding, unspoken or otherwise.

It was supposed to just happen, ya know?

I had two pretty close friends growing up. They were mutually exclusive to one another; they knew of each other but we never all three hung out together. Which makes what happened a little tougher to swallow.

People come into your life and become fixtures, kind of like Sunday night Simpsons episodes or a new James Bond movie every coupla years. Can you imagine a Sunday night in the near future without a new Simpsons?

I can't.

So what happens when these friends exit your life? When situations remove them from your everyday calendar? It happened to me. My first friend got married to a guy I introduced her to. And I didn't get invited to the wedding. I don't know why...and it's been fourteen years since we've spoken.

In her absence I filled the hole with, undoubtedly, someone or something else. But I missed talking with her. We did countless things together growing up. It's weird how someone who is an everyday part of your life goes away and leaves an emptiness that never really gets filled...

My other friend came out of the closet seven years ago and embraced, rightfully so, his new life. Our free time together dwindled away to nothing. I've seen him six or seven times over the last seven years. I missed that friendship as well.

But in both cases I made peace with it...I moved on to a life that didn't include either of them.

Unceremoniously, in the past two weeks, they've both marched back into my life.

It was awkward at first. Talking to someone who at one point meant so much to me and now, for all practical purposes, is a stranger.

She has three kids now. Her husband wasn't really discussed last night. I guess they're still married but I didn't want to broach that subject.

It all came flooding back. Our Spring Break together in Daytona Beach in 1986. Her two week visit to see me in Hawai'i in 1992. Last night she told me that I was supposed to be her maid of honor, which took me by surprise because I then would have been the maids of honor in two weddings but never a best man...

I hope we can become friends again. The fences may get mended; it may take a while but perhaps we're on our way.

My other friend came over on Monday night to watch a flick, drink a few beers and enjoy some conversation. Same thing there; it was nice but I'm being cautious.

Maybe that's the issue. We spend our formative years learning how to build relationships with people and then our adult years trying to fix them.

It gives me a smile and an anxious feeling to have them back in my life. Just in time for a new year.

And guess what? I found my old girlfriend on Facebook Saturday afternoon. Haven't seen her in twenty-two years...

Talk about the not-forgotten box.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Numbers Game.

I have a hard time in believing in things like fate, astrology, and religion. I like what I can see, or verify. Or repeat over and over...ya know, the scientific method.

That's not to say that I don't keep an open mind. I'm game for new things, opinions, and alternative points of view. Heck, I came damn close to seeing a psychic a few months ago...

But, and I blame this on random chance more than a divine or supernatural hand, there are a few numbers that keep popping up in my life.

It's happened too much to be a whoopsy, but I don't assign any cosmic significance to them.

For several years, prior to the events of September 11th, 2001, the digits "911" popped up everywhere.

A few examples:

I went through a hurricane on September 11, 1992.

My two friends Irene and Jim got married on that same day.

I dated a girl who was born on September 11th.

My friend got a divorce on that day.

On September 10th, 2001, I got home from a business trip. I hadn't seen my son in about ten days so he spent the night. The next morning I got up early and took him to breakfast at Denny's.

Over a Grand Slam meal, wheat toast, sunny-side up eggs, and decaf, I told him what weird significance that particular day had in my life. I mentioned the birthdays, marriages, divorces, and hurricanes signified to me and me alone by those three numbers. His first-grade mind, mulling over a bowl of oatmeal, spit back a "Hmmm, that's cool, dad" and went back to his OJ.

I took him to school, dropped him off, and made my way to Pennsylvania. I got about halfway to Youngstown when I heard from my hysterical sister that we had been attacked.

Holy shit.

"9-1-1" struck again.

Since then those numbers haven't reoccurred in any meaningful way to me.

Another set have announced themselves to me.

Unceremoniously, I might add.

I stir from a weekend slumber, glance at my alarm clock, and am greeted with "8:08."

I am watching TV, look at the clock on my cable box and am greeted with 8:08.

As a matter of fact, I see myself glancing at a clock and it is 8:08. A lot. Not 8:09 or 8:07...but always 8:08...

My son's telephone number starts with...of course, 808.

My good friends Tom and Kelly's son was born on 8/08/08.

It's all chance. Random. Disconnected.

But it gives me pause. For just a second.

Unless of course something crazy happens to me on 8/08.

I hope it's the lottery.

Not my funeral. Then I may believe in fate.

But I guess, by then, it won't matter...

What if something significant happens on August 8th at 9:11? Or on September 11th at 8:08?




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Sunday, November 15, 2009

Life Goes On.

A little continuity once in a while does the body good.

What, might you ask, is continuity?

Maybe it's a little grounding to your past. Maybe seeing things you haven't seen or thought about in years.

Remembering who you are and where you're from. Even if you left there a long time ago.

My younger sister came into town last night with my brother-in-law faithfully in tow. She was a thespian at Elyria High and they had a large get-together to bid farewell to the old auditorium that has served Elyria well for decades.

Elyria finally passed a new levy and they're in the process of building a new high school. From what I've been told it will be the most technologically-advanced high school in the state. It's a real shot in the arm for my ailing hometown and something that Elyria should truly be proud of...

Anyway, it takes an act of God, or high school thespian societies, to get my sister's ass west of the Cuyahoga River these days. We walked the halls, I showed my son my old tenth grade locker, and wondered in bemusement when they installed the horrendous drop-ceiling in the beautiful old building.

I ran into my high school choir director's daughter; she also made the trip from Southwest Ohio, family in tow, and we shared a moment in the choir room. It was nice to see her; the last face-to-face we had was almost two years ago at her father's funeral where myself and a few other former students acted as pallbearers to our beloved music teacher.

Soon, they will tear down the auditorium, gym, and music offices. I spent the better part of my senior year in those offices. Most of my best memories happened there.

One day, my twelfth grade girlfriend and I almost had sex in the back practice room; the damn ninth grade band almost caught us going at it.

Ahhh, the memories.

It's funny how you can walk into a building that you haven't been near in several years and a rush of sights, sounds, and smells can come screaming into your conscious mind. It can be a little overwhelming, and even unnerving.

Soon, it will all be a pile of rubble and all that will be left are memories.

The older we get the more the concrete reminders are taken away. The memories remain as a tenuous hold on where we came from, who we are, and maybe even where we're going.

There are hundreds of photos in display cases highlighting EHS sports standouts, music events, and a litany of history from the 1950s until today. Many of the photos from my years, the early 1980s, are fading. The faces are becoming unrecognizable but the names remain.

Kind of like me. I remember the names but have a difficult time attaching them to a face.

Some day even the names will elude me, just as my high school will soon be a pile of bricks, rubble and forgotten memories.

Just as it should be.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Life According to Jeff Goldblum...

There's a cool bit of dialogue in Spielberg's "Jurassic Park" where Jeff Goldblum's Ian Malcolm postulates about Chaos Theory and the impossibility of controlling the spread of life.

He tells the overzealous theme park owner that putting any types of systems into place to, essentially, stop the spread of life is impossible, arrogant and a fool's folly.

I like that.

I was on my patio yesterday, sweeping up some errant pine cones and winterizing my air conditioning unit when I saw something that made Malcolm's line pop into my head.

Now, I usually plant marigolds every summer. I love the bushy, bright orange flowers. They explode in color about mid-June and stay in bloom all summer.

This year I didn't. Yet, it seems that, borrowing Sam Neil's line from later in the film, life found a way...

In between the cobblestone cracks a single marigold flower, now about a foot tall, grew from a wind-blown seed from the summer of 2008. Right now, mid-November, I have about nine large orange flowers brightening up my back patio.

Wow. It reminds me of Becky's kitten...although she interceded and saved the kitty, life found a way.

Sometimes things happen by themselves. My marigolds are a nice little Fall surprise.

If there's a way, life can blossom with or without our help.

Just ask any landscaper...or weed puller.






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Friday, November 13, 2009

Perfect.

Is there such a thing as "perfection?"

Does that imply that there is some sort of order to the world? Or is it a random series of events that propels us towards something we perceive as perfect?

After all, the word perfection is tossed around a lot, generally describing an event, person, or thing that has very little wrong with it.

A beautiful sunset after a great day at the beach might be the ending to a "perfect" day.

A woman with great symmetry in all the places that count could also be called perfect.

A great album, with good lyrics, wonderful vocals, and balmy guitar licks could be called perfect.

But, like everything else in this world, perfection is kinda subjective, right?

What may be perfect to you may be the opposite of what I have in mind; not really "imperfect" to me but measured against a different set of standards.

Is there any order in nature? Maybe...

If so, what the fuck is a platypus? A lactating duck? A beaver who lays eggs?

There is no order; it's up to us to put that meaning into our lives.

Or at least discover why God or Nature cross-bred the Aflac spokesman with a buck-toothed rodent...

I recently read that it's up to us to look past the imperfections in life to find that perfection.

Maybe that's the order we each need to find, in our own perfect way.





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Thursday, November 12, 2009

The BBD

Is it possible to ever be content with your life? Ya know, happy with the way things are and not wanting something else?

I don't mean the newest GPS technology or a slicker, cooler cell phone...but the intangible things that don't come as easy. Things you can't buy with eighteen-months-same-as-cash or with a credit card.

Things that are earned with sweat equity and patience.

I've got a lot of cool things; I've been lucky to have a roof over my head and food in my stomach.

Yet, it seems my whole adult life I've been looking for the "BBD."

The Bigger, Better Deal.

I've always wanted more out of life.

Wanna see the Grand Canyon?

Great!

What next?

Want to live in Hawai'i?

Picked up, moved and had a great time!

What next?

As I enter middle age I've realized what I've wanted the most and I've never even scratched the surface. Not even close.

I've ignored it, denied it, and even laughed at the idea.

The events of this year were a smack in the face. Cold water tossed on me in winter. A HUGE wake-up call...

I want...

...a wife. A normal life. I want to have more kids.

I've been to almost every state in the union. I've been to a handful of countries and seen some cool cultures outside of my own.

I've experienced some pretty magical things.

I've done things that most of my married friends stare at me slack-jawed when I tell them what I've done...and who I've done.

I've had the unexpurgated freedom to pick and choose what and when I do things.

I'd trade it all for someone to come home to every night.

I was chastised this summer for my beliefs about marriage, for not knowing how hard married life truly is. I felt like she thought I was ignorant and kind of like a Pollyana for having such ambitious ideas about being hitched.

I never told her that she was wrong. I think never being married gives you a much better perspective and allows you to appreciate married life. I'm not saying it's easy, but it's all about what you put into it, right?

Garbage in, garbage out.

Magic in, magic out.

Twice in my life I've been in love. Mind-altering, future-decision-making, could-it-really-be-her? kind of love. On both occasions it didn't work out. It seems the reasons were the same.

I've always thought that the greatest force here on Earth was love. The deepest, cleanest emotion we can share with another person...and when it's given in return there's nothing more enchanting, consuming, and powerful. The kind of power that when you would look into her eyes you could see the depth of feeling, even if she denied it.

There's nothing more honest than that.

Love is challenging, more so than marriage. I think it's the most difficult thing to do...look someone in the eyes, tell them you love them and hear those words in return. When it happens, and it's mutual, it can be the most powerful thing you can ever embrace.

It can also be the most devastating. You're putting your future, your past, and all of your moments into their hands. And trusting them with it.

I've learned that I want so much out of life. I want the Bigger, Better Deal.

I see China in my future; hiking the Great Wall at dawn.

Kenya, Tanzania, and lion-hunting with my camera.

But more importantly, I want someone to share it all with.

Lions, sharks and Grizzlies, but more importantly...

...midnight feedings and diaper changes.





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Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Ho. Ho. Ho.

I want to be the first this year to wish you a very Merry Christmas. Especially my Jewish friends.

Why, you ask?

Well, I just tossed the jack o' lantern in the garbage so we gotta rush right into the holiday season without pause, right? After all, Wal-Mart's had their Christmas stuff out since mid-September and we've only got, what, 117 days left until the Big Show, right?

Why my Jewish friends? Well, it seems that many of them put up Christmas trees and celebrate the birth of...Jesus?

No, I think they, like the rest of us, have realized that Christmas is a secular holiday and have jumped on the whole presents thing too.

My buddy Lonny shakes off the whole notion of it, and acknowledged that his kids love the tree and look forward to decorating it every year. Dreidels be damned.

But, we are supposed to take this seriously, after all it is the birth of...

Birth of what, exactly?

It sure ain't the Jesu Bambino.

I think it's the birth of most company's profits. Most retailers depend on the fourth quarter to make a profit. If it's soft all year a good November/December will make the year finish up in the black.

I think Jesus' birth and December 25th have very little in common.

As I've said before, I have a hard time with the whole organized religion thing and generally have a malaise against my whole Catholic heritage. Yet, I feel some real kinship to the Holiday Season. Not for presents. Not for egg nog...

I love the idea that people seem to be a little kinder during these few weeks. Fences get mended and grudges are swept aside. Well, at least until the turkey gets carved and the cranberry sauce gets laid out.

I love the warmth of the season and the IDEA of Christmas. When looking back at my "moments" over the years I can count among them a handful that took place between Thanksgiving and New Years.

I have such fond memories of my son's mother and I during our one and only true Christmas together. We celebrated on Christmas Eve in my tiny apartment in Lakewood. Half of my living room was the tree; it overwhelmed an entire corner of this little room, yet it was magical. We strung popcorn and cranberries...Laurel bought a topper for the tree, and we played classic Christmas songs.

That was a special Christmas Eve; we sat in almost near dark, talking til two ay-em. The snow falling outside had blanketed the ground and a nice ambient light softly lit the room. The candles burned down, extinguishing themselves as we exchanged our presents.

I was young and broke, yet mustered enough to buy her a Baccarat crystal horse's head. Her eyes lit up when she saw it and it gave me jingle bells to see the look on her face.

I'm fairly confident our son was conceived that night; he was born in mid-October of the next year...

In 1989, a good friend of mine called on December 23rd. I was out with my girlfriend at a movie and my mom left a note.

"Call Greg when you get home."

It was about noon the next day when I ambled in and I called him almost immediately. Greg and I hadn't seen each other in about five years, he was living in Tennessee and we kept in touch mainly by phone.

I called him and he dove into an intensely personal story, illuminating the fact that he would be spending the Christmas holiday by himself. My mom got on the phone and we all three discussed his family issues. My mom started crying, Greg started balling, and I sat there dazed by the most interesting three-way conference call I had ever been involved in.

"This is bullshit," my mom said after hanging up with a thoroughly-depressed Greg. "No one should spend Christmas alone."

She called Continental Airlines, booked a flight and, at midnight on Christmas Eve, I was at the airport greeting a grinning Greg. We spent the whole week together.

What an incredible Christmas that was.

In high school I sang in our A Capella Choir's Madrigals. We were hand-picked...the best of the best.

Between November 15th and early January we were constantly on the road, missing school, making up tests and averaging about two gigs a day. It was exhausting, draining, and utterly wonderful. I remember going to nursing homes and singing carols for the residents and seeing the thankful looks in their eyes. We took them away from the confines of their wheel chairs and day beds to Christmases Past, where better times and family long gone spent a few minutes with them as we sang for them.

In 1992, I spent several weeks digging my friends out of the Hawai'ian hurricane. My dear friend Roxanne and her boyfriend came back to Cleveland weeks earlier. I stayed and celebrated a Hawai'ian Thanksgiving and made my way home on December 23rd. I was spent, exhausted and a little nervous about being back in my hometown so abruptly. It was rainy in Elyria..muddy and overcast when I stepped off the plane. My mom picked me up and took me to my sister's. We clued in my brother-in-law that I was coming home, but my sister had no idea. I walked into her house and her jaw dropped as she saw the prodigal son standing in her living room, returning with a deep tan and disheveled airplane hair. That night we went to a restaurant; I told them of my adventures in Hawai'i and we drank and ate 'til late in the night. As we left the restaurant a light snowfall started to cover the ground. A white blanket covered my homecoming Christmas that year.

As they say in the song, these are a few of my favorite things.

No Star of Bethlehem, Wise Men, or Black Friday ads.

No Rudolph, Frosty, or Heat Miser.

No batteries-not-included or last-minute-gift-ideas.

Just the people and the good memories.

I love the Holidays.

After all, when else during the year are you going to purposely play any Bing Crosby or Johnny Mathis music?





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Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Truer Words I've Never Heard

"I know a girl
She puts the color inside of my world
But she's just like a maze
Where all the walls all continually change
And I've done all I can
To stand on her steps with my heart in my hands
Now I'm starting to see
Maybe it's got nothing to do with me

Fathers, be good to your daughters
Daughters will love like you do
Girls become lovers who turn into mothers
So mothers, be good to your daughters too

Oh you see that skin?
It's the same she's been standing in
Since the day she saw him walk away
Now she's left
Cleaning up the mess he made


Fathers, be good to your daughters
Daughters will love like you do
Girls become lovers who turn into mothers
So mothers, be good to your daughters too

Boys, you can break
You'll find out how much they can take
Boys will be strong
And boys soldier on
But boys would be gone without warmth from
A woman's good, good heart
On behalf of every man
Looking out for every girl
You are the god and the weight of her world
So fathers, be good to your daughters
Daughters will love like you do
Girls become lovers who turn into mothers
So mothers, be good to your daughters too"

Ya know, you hear a song over and over on the radio, usually in the car while you're driving to work. Do you listen to the lyrics? Or just let it play in the background while you gab on the cell phone?

I heard this song on the radio yesterday morning on the commute to the office. I never really listened too deeply to what John Mayer was saying.

Wow. What a great tune.

I think we're all the products of our parents' worlds.

How many weeks of Driver's Ed do we go through before we're allowed to get behind the wheel? You need a license to get married. You need a license to practice medicine.

But the toughest job in the world, more dangerous than a kid in a two-ton automobile or a dentist with questionable job skills, requires no prior certifications.

Any idiot can have a kid.

I've seen, first hand, how parents can fuck up their kids. Growing up, I saw how one of my neighbors was treated by his stepfather. My neighbor, five-foot-two and maybe all of eighty pounds, was a favorite punching bag for his six-foot-four, 250 pound drunk of a dad.

He's now about forty, step dad's been dead for a while and he's still struggling to stay afloat. He's had a myriad of shit jobs; became a deadbeat dad himself at twenty-one, and will undoubtedly struggle with these issues for his entire life.

And everyone wants to know why he's such a "bum."

These song lyrics should be a pre-requisite to having a kid. Kind of like memorizing the fifty states and their capitols to pass eighth grade history class.

Every idiot thinking of having a kid should think twice as to how their actions will affect that child, years before the now-grown drug-addicted kid, lost to the world, should ever have to deal with it.

Parents, be good to your daughters. And sons.

Because they will love as you do.




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Beach Glass and other Intangible Tangibles...

When my son was small, maybe four years old, we would go to the beach and look for smooth, weathered pieces of glass that, over the winter, would make its way to the shore. We'd collect it, invariably sticking it in my coat or pants pocket, and then bring it home and stick it in a small jar.

We would try and go to Huntington Beach in Bay Village before mid-May, because they would start to prepare the beach for the summer season, grade the sand and remove all the debris. Giant, rotting fish, drift wood and our bounty would be taken away en masse. And we knew the open season on good glass was October through May...We'd score handfuls, and on a good day, our coat pockets would be dangerously swelled with about thirty or forty pieces of sandy glass. Alex's coat pockets always had an ever present gritty collection of sand and dirt in their linings.

Over the years, that jar needed to be replaced by a bigger Mason jar, and now it all rests in a large glass vase about the size of two Pepsi two-liter bottles stacked on top of each other.

It doesn't take up that much room; it sits as a decoration in my downstairs bathroom. But the contents inside, thousands of glass shards, represent over a decade of beach glass hunting, one of Alex's favorite pre-adolescent activities.

There's blue glass, orange, green, and the ever present brown glass, most likely from the thousands of beer bottles tossed overboard by Lake Erie's boaters and fishermen.

Many of the pieces we would poach out of the sand were almost polished smooth, glossy from years in the lake. Others, sharp and still not opaque got tossed back in as far as our arms could hurl them into the lake. Kind of like a perch that had to be tossed back because they weren't big enough. Or an apple that wasn't quite ripe.

I hope Alex remembers these moments as he gets older. It's one of those things that we share together. I don't think that he and his mom poach the glass; this is our thing.

To this day, whenever we go to a big body of water my now six-foot-two kid disappears to the shoreline, looking for little bloops in the sand that don't belong there.

I smile and join in.

There are some things that never get old.

Even if your child is.



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A Kiss Is Still A Kiss...

I got together with a friend of mine whom I haven't seen in a long time. We used to hang out a lot growing up. We were both movie geeks. Uber-geeks. Loved all the big tent-pole movies and we'd go see them all. Starting in the mid-1980s until May of 2002 we saw every one of them. Indiana Jones, Star Wars, Star Trek, and any cool sci-fi or action flick. Midnight shows, sneaks...it didn't matter; we were all in.

He was always quiet and kind of shy. A devout vegetarian, I always felt odd horking down a hamburger in his presence.

After an evening showing of "Spider Man" in Spring of 2002, he got somber on the ride back home. I asked him what was wrong and he blurted out two game-changing words.

"I'm gay." He said rather matter-of-factly.

I nodded, a little relieved because I thought there was something really wrong.

"Oh." I muttered.

I wasn't surprised and I remember my only reaction was regarding how his parents and family accepted the news.

I was happy my friend was able to come to terms with who he was...or rather, is.

Over the next few months he started to embrace his new freedom. He joined a support group. He got to talk with other gay men about his feelings and frustrations.

He changed. All for the better. He came out of his shell and became more social.

Then he met someone.

I was truly happy for him but our friendship suffered because of it. He moved about fifty miles away.

Our contact became less and less. I think since "Spider Man" I've seen him four or five times. I was bummed that he didn't have time for his straight friends, although happy he was finally happy in his own skin.

I found him on Facebook a few months ago. I "friended" him and never heard back. I assumed he was living high on the hog, traveling with his partner and generally living large.

I got an e-mail and a friend "acceptance" two weeks ago.

He apologized for the delay; it seems they broke up almost four months ago.

He's devastated. I saw them together a few times over the years. I ran into them at a bookstore and they looked genuinely happy. He said it felt like they'd be together forever.

We got together for coffee last week and he told me the whole story. We traded quips about our relationships. It's funny; our stories aren't much different. He has an abiding love for his partner, and hopes that they are still able to reconcile.

I talked about Becky. He understood the feelings I have and can empathize.

When my son's mom and I split up almost fifteen years ago he was there for me, and provided an ear. I used that ear a lot for the first few months after we split. He told me last week that he never really got why I was so devastated when Laurel and I broke up.

Now he knows.

It's funny...we sat and drank our overpriced Mochas and commiserated over our love lives.

We're no different at all.

Love is love no matter what.



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Sunday, November 8, 2009

Stand By Me

A few days ago I blogged a little bit about people as boomerangs. Specifically, how Becky and I would break up for awhile but would invariably come back into each other's lives. Ya know...like a boomerang.

Pretty simple metaphor, huh?

It seems lately there has been a flood of people from my past...my distant past...that have come back into my life. They've been gone for decades yet the years have melted away as we conversed over a bottle or two of wine; I ask why my teen-aged self let these friendships dissolve in the first place.

Thank goodness that we're older now and some of the cliquish mentality that pervaded our youth is gone. I was in the "brain" (or "geek" depending what kind of spin you are so inclined to put on it...) crowd in high school and they may have been in the burnout category or one of the nebbish guys that were more comfortable against the wall at a dance, if they attended it in the first place.

I had a good friend in the late 1970s named Bruce. His dad built the addition onto my parents' house and he and I spent several summers together doing what kids do. We discussed girls with a fervor. We dissected "Logan's Run" in the summer of 1976 as if it were "Citizen Kane." His biggest memory of me is walking to the local ice cream store in August of 1977 and I proclaimed to him that the King was dead.

Long live the King! Elvis died and I guess I was the guy who broke the news to him.

It's funny what you remember about people.

We were fascinated by Bigfoot, the Loch Ness Monster and the Abominable Snowman. I remember our fathers taking us to the second-run theater to catch a showing of the now-forgotten classic "Mysterious Monsters." We cowered in fear from the documentary footage of Sasquatch in Northern California. Our dads must have been cowering in boredom.

But they took us anyway.

By the ninth grade we lost touch. He went his way and I went mine. Over the years I would run into him and we would say hello, gab for a second, and then rush away to some other part of our lives that took precedence over pre-adolescent best friends.

About two years ago I ran into him and we exchanged pleasantries. We said we'd get together for lunch someday.

Unlike many of those promised lunches that never seem to materialize, we actually did it. And then again a few weeks later.

Our friendship was casual until this Spring. Becky and I were having trouble ("Round One") and Bruce let me blab my problems to him. He's known Becky for years as a fellow photographer. He gave me great advice. And then again. And again.

Now I seem to be returning the favor. We're simpatico; mutually crying in each other's beers about the women in our lives, our kids and how it's best to keep looking forward instead of backward...

It's funny, "Logan's Run" hasn't been discussed yet. Bigfoot is a distant memory, but we're still discussing girls with a fervor.

I love that last line from the film "Stand By Me." As the narrator is wrapping up his story, he breaks down the fourth wall, asking the audience if you ever have friends as loyal, committed, and more true than when you were nine years old...

Do you?




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Saturday, November 7, 2009

Why Can't We All Just Get Along?




I saw these pictures a while ago. I'm assuming their veracity is sound. These are the kind of pictures that make their way across the 'net, attached to hundreds of different e-mails espousing something or other...
All I know is what I see. A fawn, perhaps motherless, looking for a little security and warmth.
Apparently, the woman of this Maryland house came home and saw that her beagle had made its way through the doggie door and the fawn followed suit, looking for a safe haven.
I love these pictures, especially the second one. Look how unperturbed the beagle looks; he's at ease with the new addition to the family sofa. The fawn, so young, innocent and helpless, trusting that the dog and the owners would give it some much-needed TLC.
It took my dog and cats quite awhile to get used to each other's company...each of them vying for alpha male in a house full of testosterone, canine, feline, and otherwise.
And they still haven't figured it out.






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As Time Goes By

I was cleaning off my desk in the cave a few nights ago and, if you've ever seen my desk, it's kind of like a fossil record. The first layer has ancient amoebas, then trilobites, icthyosaurs, T-Rexes, Neanderthals, then Springsteen's "Born to Run" CD...

I came across a bunch of photos that I haven't seen in years. There was a pile of my son, from birth until about ten years old, roller-blading with his Fisher-Price skates, Chuck E. Cheese on his birthday, and time at my mom's cottage.

By the way, the best form of birth control in the world is to spend a Sunday afternoon in January at a local Chuck E. Cheese...it's an abject lesson in parenthood and more terrifying than those "Scared Straight" videos from Driving Lessons...ya know, the ones with the bodies piled up everywhere cuz the errant teen was getting a hand job and not keeping his hands at ten and two instead of all over Miss Mary Jane Rottencrotch?

Anyway, I started to ruminate, something that I never do...right? I feel like JD from "Scrubs." I wonder if I ever just blank out mid-day when I get lost in thought?

I realized that I don't have one picture of me and Roxanne. Twenty-plus years of friendship and neither one of us inhabit the same space in a picture. Not one. I have some great shots of her; others of she and our friend Cyndi...or she and my son smiling at me, while I snap the picture...

Wow. I guess I thought our best days were still ahead of us. I'd have years or decades to catch some good pix of us, growing grey and toasting our fortieth year as friends.

Not to be...

So, what if we fail to recognize the most significant moments in our lives as they unspool before us? Is it not until much, much later that we understand the importance of an event or a person that we were surrounded with for a seeming forever?

Adversely, we attach meaning to certain people or events that, ultimately, have little impact on us or those around us. Remember the whole "Y2K" scare? At 12:01 on January 1, 2000 there was going to be some type of "Terminator" Skynet takeover and we were all going to die?

I'm still here and writing this.

How is it we fail to recognize those things that become us? We're defined by our decisions and remembered for how we acted. Or didn't act.

I wanted to be an archaeologist when I was a kid. This is way before Indiana Jones made it cool. I was young; I wanted to dig up Noah's Ark and the pyramids. I wanted to see the world.

I wanted adventure. Cannibals with head-shrinking abilities and damsels in distress. I detoured through a film program in college and got a Bachelor's in Communication instead.

My one big swipe at something bigger than Elyria, Ohio came in 1992. It was my summer story; a dream job on a Spielberg movie, a year in Hawai'i and a hurricane that led me back to Cleveland.

Come to think of it, my son owes his very existence to an act of nature. Hmmm, no storm...no Alex.

So here I am, in the man cave, licking my wounds from my Becky-mance, and looking at life a little differently before I found all those pictures. Maybe because certain moments only attain meaning after the fact.

I hope I will enjoy many more years of shooting pictures. Now I know to make damn sure that I'm injecting myself into those pictures. I want a record of the people I know.

And maybe I'll shoot an event or two that may, down the road, mean something incredible in my life.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

The Show Must Go On...

Well...it looks like much of the angst and reason for starting this blog in the first place is gone. Kaput. Purged from my everyday existence. The Becky Show is now over. Officially.

And, honestly? I feel good about the way in which we parted.

We had a hell of a ride. Eight months of an on-again/off-again romance that kept me on my toes.

A lot.

I've never met someone so maddening, so off-beat and utterly amazing in my entire life. She is one of the best photographers I've ever seen. Her laugh and smile are intoxicating. And her self-professed Katy Perry-style hot and cold drove me fuckin' nuts. Maybe that was part of the attraction; maybe she was my muse that fueled the passion to do something creative. No matter how half-ass my writing/photography/self-deprecation really is...

We said goodbye back in May, then again in August (I think, maybe even twice...) and then again in late September. So much happened and so much was said that it's all a haze.

Every time we broke up we got back together. A few days might pass, or a week, or six weeks. But like a boomerang, we eventually made our way back to each other.

Our passion was undeniable. We had a special connection that I still have a hard time denying. To bastardize Erich Segal, sometimes love just isn't enough...

I haven't seen her up close and personal in about a month. But, yesterday, in a flurry of texts we said goodbye once and for all.

It was closure if there ever was. I'm glad we said what we "said." I don't know if electronically communicating between two hand-held devices can be called "talking" but I got to say what I've been thinking for awhile now.

And it was positive. No "Fuck you, I hope you die!" type stuff. It was nice...and we bid each other adieu with the hope that someday, after many of these residual feelings subside, we can be friends.

But, nonetheless, it felt right to say goodbye in such a positive way. I truly want her to be happy with her decisions and hope for the best as she moves on.

I had such hopes for a future with her. Maybe more kids...a nice house with the requisite picket fence, grand kids in the back yard, and life that mirrored a Norman Rockwellish painting where everyone is drinking hot chocolate around a big pot-bellied stove after a day of sledding.

Or something closely resembling that..

I got something almost as good.

Self-realization.

Becky brought me back into the game. The man-cave was my prison shelter for a long time. I'd sit, night after night, passing the time with endless re-runs of "Law and Order" or another DVD from my collection...waiting for something better to happen.

Meeting Becky and stepping back into the dating world pulled me out of that basement dwelling. When I first left the cave, the glare of the sunlight hurt my eyes...now I've got my shades on and I'm ready to tackle the world with the fervor of an eighteen year-old freshly released from Catholic Boys' School. If you know what I mean.

I'm back.

And I'll always love her for renewing my lease on life. If love isn't enough to sustain a relationship, at least the thought of "us" can put a smile on my face when I'm feeling dour and out-of-sorts.

So thanks, Beautiful. You'll always hold a special place in my heart. I'll raise a goldschlager toast to you the next time I imbibe. Which, undoubtedly, will be tonight.

The big question still remains: Now what am I going to do for a muse?





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