Friday, September 26, 2014

A Grand Entrance (A Quiet Exit)

There is a temptation to wallow in it.

Especially when a new life comes into the world.

Beginnings and endings. Fading out and exploding in.

Reach a certain stage in your life and you begin to feel the fade. The narrowing of options. A sense of urgency. Painful knees. A stiff back. Shortness of breath.

Disrespect towards the aged. "Fool, we are not going to hire anybody as old as you are."

A friend births a new born baby boy almost simultaneously as a specific hope gets snuffed out.

Suddenly the arc of life is laid out in bright neon lights before you.

And it doesn't look too hopeful from your standpoint.

A kid explodes into this life just brimming with possibilities. When you think about it, every single infant should be named hope.

Because that is what they are. There is hope for them to live a full life of meaning, there is hope from the parents that they can protect, and inspire this tiny human to flourish. Hope from the parents that laughter will punctuate this love and that it will always be there.

Yeah, permanent names should not be assigned until the kid sets a course in life, makes decisions and chooses a path. Give the kid an identity at that point.

But start with hope.

An explosion of life, a fading of life. The balanced equation.

The fading of life. The end approaches. Every defeat seems enormous even as NEED grows in intensity. A need born of awareness.

So much wasted time. Amazing when you think about it just how much time we waste. Years and decades.

This is true of all people all the time. People bemoan the fact endlessly yet time keeps getting wasted.

We are fools, but some slack must be given because we are confused.

Life is precious. Those words carry a lot of weight.

And they don't.

Because few of us live our lives as if they are precious.

So a kid is born, an opportunity dies, the world spins and nobody has the answer.


Just finished "The Given Day."

What the hell am I supposed to do now?

Thursday, September 25, 2014


"The devil has put a penalty on all things we enjoy in life. Either we suffer in health or we suffer in soul or we get fat."

Albert Einstein

"Your best friend and worst enemy are both in this room right now. It's not your neighbor right or left - and it's not God or the devil - it's you."

Edwin Louis Cole


Timmy kept a positive attitude through out his life because that is what his parents had beaten into him.

There is irony in promoting positivity through beatings, but Timmy knew his parents' hearts were in the right place.

"Never complain. Put a positive spin on everything. Pretend to be cheery, especially when you are at your darkest. People appreciate that."

So he did. It was his life's mantra.

In high school, Timmy was a violin prodigy. A juvenile virtuoso whose destiny was laid out before him in gold. His fellow musicians respected him deeply because they recognized his talent. They understood it.

Others, however, did not.

Being in the band was not the best way to gain respect in the general population. Athletes were merciless to Timmy. Called him a wimp. A loser. Taunted him long and hard in public at every opportunity.

But Timmy handled it well. He ignored them when he could, smiled as best he could and told his friends "they don't mean anything by it. They are just trying to discover their own identity."

Even when they hauled him off the steps of the bus as he prepared to go home. Bullied him into a blind alley just behind the convenience store and stomped his left hand. Broke it severely to the point of non-recognition.

Six months later when the bandages were removed and it was confirmed that Timmy would never play the violin again he said: "I'm OK. Music is not the only way to make a living."

His studies had fallen behind as Timmy appeared unable to concentrate, but when he graduated he got a great job with a printing company. Running a printing press.

The work was hard, the hours long and the atmosphere brutal but Timmy was proud to be a worker bee. He felt a part of something.

He was always on time, never took a second extra on break, ate his lunch silently and did everything his bosses asked.

Even when they appeared to be rude. He understood they were under a lot of pressure.

He met Zelda at the Acme Printing Company and could not believe his luck. She was a raving beauty. What was she doing in a place like this?

He didn't understand it. He was also blown away when she agreed to date him.

Somehow they clicked. It didn't make sense but there it was. They were in love and they got married.

A spectacular marriage it was. Flowing along nicely, the envy of every other couple around them.

Ten years on the job and Timmy got laid off. Zelda had stayed home that day, making good use of her sick time to just take a break.

Timmy walked through the doors of the Acme Printing Company at 6:00 a.m., and was walking back out at 6:15.

In a bit of a daze.

But he thought to himself "They are only doing what they have to do. I will be alright. I will land on my feet."

When he got back home he found Zelda in bed with his best friend John.

She looked at Timmy with contempt.

And said "Are you really so surprised?" Timmy said "We were going to have children together. Build a family."

Zelda said "I would never have children with the likes of you, loser. How could you not feel that? Get the hell out of my house."

Timmy looked at John who said "You were never no friend of mine, buddy."

Timmy staggered away but thought to himself "I have known love. I am a lucky man."

He squeaked by on unemployment, living in a one room apartment on the dark side of town. Until unemployment ran out.

Eventually Timmy was evicted. He lived on his wits and on the streets.

Still, he told himself "The weather is good most of the time, I am getting plenty of fresh air and some people are very generous with their dimes."

Life on the streets was hard. Timmy got knifed. Timmy died.

Zelda, who felt the tiniest bit of complicity in Timmy's untimely death, buried him on the dark side of the cemetery where the weeds grew best.

A friend of hers, a stonemason, inscribed the tiny headstone with the words Timmy always told her should be there.

"Things are looking up."

Timmy had finally gotten it right.

Editor's note: This heart warming story was inspired, in part, by Bob Dylan's song "It's All Good" - a brilliant satire of a ridiculous phrase.


And he wondered to himself, curiously, what kind of damage a cocktail of self-loathing and misanthropy could do.

But who would be left to love?

Wednesday, September 24, 2014


"Bitterness is like cancer. It eats upon the host. But anger is like fire. It burns it all clean."

Maya Angelou

"Anybody can become angry. That is easy, but to be angry with the right person and to the right degree and at the right time and for the right purpose, and in the right way - that is not within everybody's power and is not easy."


"Speak when you are angry and you will make the best speech you will ever regret."

Ambrose Bierce


Lou was being reborn in anger, but, for now, the light was gone from his eyes.

His eyes were floating in their sockets nestled safely within his skull, but there was no life there. No hope. No dreams. No excitement.

No soul.

He couldn't pinpoint exactly when that light was extinguished, having only recently noticed his own bland gaze, but he knew it was gone. He felt it before he knew it, and he felt it quite some time ago.

As far as the anger goes, it was an anger bathed in acid and wrapped in excrement. A ferocious and brutal thing different than any he had experienced before.

This time it was dangerous.

Used to be, in more docile times, the anger would eat him up from the inside. Docility stemming from familiarity. Lou had been angry so long that it became a natural state. He used it to beat himself up, to smash mirrors, to despair of ever evolving to a higher plane of existence.

This anger, this newborn anger, was outward bound. So far he had punched a paper towel dispenser and a couple of innocent empty boxes. But he was beginning to think about faces and fractured cheekbones.

And change. Explosive no turning back now, baby, change.

This anger was fuel.

He was also thinking about time travel back to the 19th century. How delicious that would be. To spend some time in the company of opium, absinthe and laudanum. Languishing in his favorite opium den, drifting away in dreams of garish colors and unrestricted futures.

Maybe travel back only as far as the fifties and hook up with Kerouac and Cassady to romp around the North American continent. Let life happen to him for a while, devoid of rules and suffocating obligations. Take it as it comes, learn from it, be shaped by it and emerge all the better for it.

Lou was not sure he had time for any of that, assuming he could even get ahold of Emmett "Doc" Brown.

Enough time had been wasted.

For now, Lou contented himself with exploring the taste of this new anger. Rolling it over his tongue, bouncing it around his brain, feeling it seep into his cells.

Anticipating the eruption. The moment when the anger would highjack his soul and transform him into a fierce and formidable foe.

Life requires foes. Lou understood that now.

Those who did not fight back against life wound up under its boot heel.

Lou had enough footprints on his back.

He sat in the dark feeling the power within as it spread slowly throughout his essence.

He felt a calm peace as violence quietly took hold.

Lou felt the light returning to his eyes.  He smiled. A smile that spread slowly across his lips, so slowly that it looked grotesque until it eventually transformed his entire mouth.

A smile in the dark. A smile no one else would see.

For a while.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Sweet Inspiration

"my beerdrunk soul is sadder than all the dead christmas trees of the world."

Charles Bukowski

"My life is a perfect graveyard of buried hopes."

L.M. Montgomery

"I need to be alone. I need to ponder my shame and my despair in seclusion; I need the sunshine and the paving stones of the streets without companions, without conversation, face to face with myself, with only the music of my heart for company."

Henry Miller

"There is a darkness greater than the one we fight. It is the darkness of the soul that has lost its way. The war we fight is not against powers and is against chaos and despair. Greater than the death of flesh is the death of hope, the death of dreams. Against this peril, we can never surrender. The future is all around us, waiting in moments of transition to be born in moments of revelation. No one knows the shape of that future, or where it will take us. We only know that it is always born in pain."

J.M. Straczynski

As Far As I Know

As far as I know I came pretty close to getting a new and better job.

Then, suddenly, I didn't get it.

I placed high hopes on this possibility. Monday to Friday job, no nights, no weekends. Exactly what I am looking for as I continue to look for myself.

Could be delusional. Maybe they laughed at me the minute I walked out of the interview. The job search, the interview process is twisted and not grounded in reality.

But.....all signs were that I was definitely in the finals. This based on feedback from one of the interviewers, who I know in a work capacity and spoke to after the interview.

No matter. It didn't happen. Whatever the reality was, doesn't matter.

The current reality is what matters.

Right now that is pretty shaky.

I would be lying if I told you I didn't medicate myself after receiving THE CALL at 3:00 yesterday afternoon. Had the day off.

I had no choice.

I didn't bargain for today, though. I couldn't read this morning. COULDN'T READ. Couldn't concentrate.

My heart is pounding like a big base drum and I loathe the idea of going to The Asylum today. I'm pacing and jittery.

My mind envisions doors closing in permanence all around me, and there weren't too many open doors to begin with.

Employers would prefer burying 60 year olds to hiring them.

So here we go.

Let's see where this all leads.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Compressed Rage

Francis drove to work every day in compressed rage. He was no different than anybody else. Life had backed him into a corner, slowly, limiting the real estate, the choices available to him, until he became a silent threat.

Rage burned inside him in a quiet, well hid corner of his psyche. Burned hot, the intensity focused like a laser beam, taking up very little space but offering the potential of a cataclysmic explosion.

The commute was forty minutes and gorgeous; back roads surrounded by woods so peaceful he could almost relax. Relax maybe, if he didn’t wrestle with repetitive thoughts. Thoughts that tortured him through their very repetitiveness. The same thing every day over and over again. Fueled by hatred of his selfish, cold hearted boss. Imagining the day he would blow up and reduce her to tears. Picturing himself ignoring her spineless, unintelligent approach to managing and moving ahead to do things his way. Always and in every situation. Getting her fired for her incompetency.

Life doesn’t work that way. Especially when you work for the state. Bureaucracy was on her side. The only way she would lose her job was if she got caught stealing while beheading a customer.

Francis was trapped and he knew it.

One morning on the way to work he turned to his left and saw a guy driving his truck across a spacious and picturesque field. The guy pulled over, climbed down from the truck and headed towards some farm equipment. Francis was past him in a flash but the image burned into his mind.

Seemed like such a peaceful way to make a living. Working on farm equipment, tending to his field.

Francis began to look for him every day. Sometimes all he would see was the truck, sometimes the equipment, other times the man himself walking through that field.

It was peaceful to imagine himself as that man. Comforting.

It was a nice break from the drive and Francis really wondered what kind of life this man lead. Pictured the whole thing in his mind. The farm, his wife of many years, an old and loving dog, his worn but sturdy house, the complete absence of stress.

Eventually the imagining turned into a dark obsession. Francis began to concentrate furiously whenever he saw the man, wishing with every fiber of his being that they could switch places. It was almost painful in intensity, his desire to become this man, to flee his own life and live in serenity.

It was a fantasy, but a fantasy that kept him from obsessing about the smallness, the bitterness of his own life. If only for a few short minutes every day.

It was a Tuesday morning, sunshine brilliant, wind gentle, when Francis realized he was in the truck. THE truck. He wasn’t sure of his name, but he knew for a fact that he was no longer Francis. The switch had happened. Somehow, someway, signals had gotten crossed, vibes had intertwined and he was the man in the truck. Driving down the road on his way to see the doctor. He knew that although he didn’t know how he knew it.

Francis, or whoever he was now, was joyous. Overwhelmingly happy. A feeling he had not experienced for decades.

He wheeled the truck into the medical center parking lot, parked, and wondered what to do. The thought occurred to him to play this thing out. Follow his instincts and see where they lead.

When he entered the reception area the receptionist, with forced cheerfulness, said “Hi Jock. Good to see you.”

Now he knew his name.

She said “Dr. Johnson is ready for you, just walk right on in.”

Dr. Johnson shook his hand and asked him to sit. He said “Jock, there is no easy way to say this so I’m just gonna come right out with it. As we discussed previously, your cancer is terminal and it is Stage IV. What I didn’t know for sure until today is that, at this point, treatment is futile.”

Jock sat in stunned silence. Eventually he got up the nerve to ask “How long?”

Dr. Johnson said “You’ve got about six months to live. I’m so sorry Jock.”

He staggered out of the medical center in shock and horror. Suffocating in disbelief, he fainted in the parking lot.

And woke up in his own car on his commute to work, as Francis.

Somewhere in the transition, in the changeover back to their real lives, in the in between, Jock’s and Francis’ spirits came face to face.

Francis looked at Jock; Jock looked at Francis, both in fascination and curiosity.

Francis asked “What just happened?”

To which Jock replied “I lived your life for one hour. At that point I concentrated with all my might to get my own life back. And I’m glad it happened.”

Francis asked “Why?”

Jock answered with conviction “I’d rather have terminal cancer than live your life.”

Francis’ commute that morning was the most miserable ever.

Can't Hate It

It is not difficult for me to picture Roger Goodell covered in slime.

He is not a football fan. He is a corporate executive pretending to be a football fan.

Adrian Peterson, Greg Hardy, Jonathan Dwyer, Ray Rice, Ray McDonald, Quincy Enunwa. These are six NFL players accused of child abuse, simple assault, misdemeanor assault, and felony domestic violence.

It is not a coincidence that these accusations have surfaced in a short span of time.

It is the tip of the iceberg.

Are violent men attracted to football or does football make men violent?

Drugs most likely play a part in this picture. Drug testing exists in the NFL but there are always ways to get around drug testing. And there are always new drugs and combinations of drugs available to experiment with that have not made "the list" yet.

These guys need drugs to kill pain, to get them up, to bring them down, to manufacture artificial energy.

Professional football is a vicious and violent sport, and the body and the mind take an unmerciful beating. Way outside the range of what a normal person would consider manageable.

These guys spend endless hours practicing, building up a rage, so they can let it all out in and hour and a half on Sunday.

And Monday. And Thursday.

Used to be simpler.

Anyway, can a human flip the switch from game time rage to normal life? Or is violence like breathing?

Trust me, I am not defending these criminals. If they hit a woman or abuse a child, their hands should be severed. Then they can go back to the gridiron and attempt to make a living.

I'm just wondering what kind of monsters this game creates.

Don't forget - there are countless admirable men who play and played football who deserve our respect. Who function well in society and add a little something positive to this life.

These are the football players we should be focusing on.

Back to Goodell.

It would not surprise me to learn that the Rog knew everything about the Ray Rice "incident" from the start. That he weighed the negative financial impact of being truthful against the concept of justice and decided a two game suspension was enough.

He is a man who cares nothing about the sport except as a vehicle to make money for the owners. And as a source for his $44 million income consisting of salary and bonuses.

He does not care about the health of the players, he does not care about compensating players fairly, he does not care about the fear in them - fear of short careers, fear of career ending injuries, fear of ending up in diapers at the age of forty.

To Roger Goodell the players are inventory. Raw material. Easily replaceable. Not human.

There are few true super stars in the league. The majority of players probably hope to hang on long enough to finance the rest of their lives, praying that crippling and debilitating injury will not rob them of that chance.

I want to hate the NFL just like I hate most major corporations.

But I can't. I have loved this game for fifty years. It is one of the few things that sparks my passion and awakes me from the coma of my life.

Goodell knows this. He is aware of the psycho passion of football fans. He is aware of the intensity of the sport, given the short season and the fan torture of only being able to watch their team play once a week.

He is aware that playing in the NFL is the only chance most players will ever have to lead a comfortable life. He knows there are thousands of players out there just dying for a chance to play at this level.

Goodell is quite happy to exploit all of this. Football is not going away and he knows it.

Supply and demand, baby. Just like today's job market. Employers are screwing employees because there are not enough jobs out there and everybody is desperate and suffering.

Goodell is screwing players, fans and justice because he can. Because demand outstrips supply.

I cannot hate football.

I can hate Goodell.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Damn Good Advice

"Oh, because you're bleeding all over yourself, you want sympathy?" Luther stepped back up to Danny, the big man lying back against the streetlamp pole like it was all he had left of friends in this world. "I ain't got that for you. Whatever's wearing you down, shit, throw it off. God don't care. Ain't nobody care. Whatever you need to do to make yourself right, get yourself out of pain? I say you do that thing."

From "The Given Day." Dennis Lehane

A Universal Truth

"Babe saw that look on people's faces a lot lately. Not for any particular reason, either. Just in general. It was like they were all walking through this crazy world, trying to keep pace but knowing they couldn't, they just couldn't. So part of them waited for that world to come back up behind them on a second try and just roll right over them, send them - finally - on into the next one."

From "The Given Day." Dennis Lehane

Friday, September 19, 2014


Waiting on pins and needles today.

Waiting on a call. Got hope on a hook, trying to reel it in.

But hope is a slippery devil and it is a delicate and dangerous operation to reel it in.

There's the vibe, there's reality, there's desperation, there's absolute truth and subjective truth.

There is a lesson in wanting something so bad.

It can be a good thing to WANT. Wanting the right things, moving in intelligence, enriching and improving your life.

Making sense of things.

It can be a bad thing to WANT. Wanting in desperation, to escape. Maybe to make a right move, with a little luck, but mostly to escape.

Or maybe it is more of a sign. A sign that something drastic has to change, no matter the outcome.

Or something has to change drastically.

Still hope of any kind is better than none.

Don't forget the words of one Francis Underwood: "Remove hope from the equation."


Week 2 - NFL

Last Sunday and Monday I:

Watched THE PATS at 1:00.
Switched back and forth between the two 4:00 o'clock games.
Watched the first half of Sunday night football.
Watched the first half of Monday night football.

That's a lot of football.

That's a little slice of heaven.

Friday, September 12, 2014

A Warning Shot

So 60 ain't middle aged.

But it isn't really old, is it? Not too old, anyway.

So what the hell is 60?

60 is a warning shot.

Like a warning shot fired by your redneck neighbor, if he has three functioning brain cells left, when you first trespass on his untended to, jungle-like property.

60 is a warning shot, baby.

Bikinis, Beer Bellies and Bald Spots

On vacation we learned, Bill and I, that young ladies love old men.
As we sat on the deck, looking down on the beach, at bikinis, a clear vibe
came up from the sand.
A clear vibe of love for two sixty year olds appreciating fresh faced beauty.
Twenty year olds with zero body fat thinking "God, I love men with
grey hair, beer guts and bald spots."
Twenty year olds with zero body fat thinking "A forty year age gap
means nothing when you are talking 'bout love."
It was so obvious to us.
And gratifying.
It made things uncomfortable for our women, knowing that Bill and I
could walk down to the beach and scoop up any babe we chose.
But they understood the caliber of the hunks they chose as mates so many years ago.
They knew the risk.
Still, we made light conversation, Bill and I, because we are pros.
But our eyes scanned the sand, evaluating, comparing, deciding which of the young beauties would complement our natural charms.
We didn't expect anything, necessarily, didn't want anything.
Except the satisfaction derived from improving someone's life
through the simple act of association.
The chosen ones' peers would be overcome with respect and awe.
Others would come to them for love advice, wanting to know just how you go about
attracting the attention of grey, old men.
But they would hold tight with that advice, to minimize the competition.
Makes sense. Makes a lot of sense.
We were ready, Bill and I, to make our move, poised to creak out of our chairs
and head down to the beach.
To bestow our blessings like the Pope to the poor.
Suddenly it seemed like another Margarita was in order.
No reason, other than our thirst and the delicious nature of the concoction.
Our women began to talk food; our women were hungry.
Plans were made to walk, arm in arm, downtown for premium junk food.
Margaritas slipped away and so did the time.
We never did make it down to the twenty year olds, never gave them
that thrill.
But we could have, Bill and I.

Coldest Sentence Ever

Watching House of Cards recently.

Frank Underwood is talking to Doug, his right hand man, about how to deal with somebody who is getting in his way.

Francis says: "Don't try to scare him. Remove hope from the equation."

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Do They Just Make This Stuff Up?

And in a related blog post, as I pondered Oteil's comment about time becoming more important than money, it got me back to black holes.

I recently watched a documentary featuring Stephen Hawking in an attempt to stretch the boundaries of my tiny brain.

In this documentary he set about proving that there can be no God because of scientific theories regarding the creation of the universe.

He went far beyond the Big Bang and far beyond my ability to understand it all.

But somewhere in his argument the subject of black holes came up, and I believe he said that time does not exist in black holes, or that time stops in black holes.

This immediately piqued my interest.

If I could crawl inside a black hole and stop time, I would decorate the interior with mirrors and contemplate myself endlessly until I understood myself perfectly.

Then I would re-emerge a new man, the real me, back into my current life, ready to do with my talents and strengths what destiny had originally planned for me.

Fully. Satisfyingly. Soul validatingly.

Let's not consider what happened to my family and friends while I was in the black hole. With my diminished powers of comprehension I could be in there for a long time. The consequences for everyone else are too complicated to factor in.

I just rooted around online trying to dig up more facts about this stop time thing. Got nowhere with that but learned a lot about black holes.

In the 1970's Hawking shook up the scientific world with his theory of black holes. Black holes being entities with gravity so powerful even light can't escape. They possess a mysterious singularity at their cores that approaches zero size and infinite density, with the power to pulverize anything that comes within reach.

Then, in January of this year, Hawking said there are no black holes. At least not as previously conceived.

His original theory postulated an "event horizon" - an invisible threshold to the black hole beyond which nothing can escape. If you tried to get back out of the black hole you could never do it because of it's immense gravitational pull.

This does not help me at all.

A couple of years ago, physicists at the Kavli institute analyzed the event horizon and came to the conclusion that rather than being invisible, it would have to be a seething sheet of energy. They called it a firewall, saying "the event horizon would literally be a ring of fire that burns anyone falling through."

This does not help me at all.

Hawking now theorizes that instead of a sharply defined event horizon, black holes could have a mushier barrier called an "apparent horizon", which is firm enough to hold stuff in, but not firm enough to generate a ring of fire.

This does not help me at all.

BUT he goes on to say that the apparent horizon could disappear, leaving the door open for escape from a black hole.

This gives me hope.

However, before I rocket off to the nearest black hole to find myself, I think I will wait a while in case Stephen Hawking changes his mind again.

Maybe I'll just read some Kierkegaard in the meantime.


You never know where inspiration is going to come from.

Reading "One Way Out", about The Allman Brothers.

Oteil Burbridge, the current bassist with the band, in talking about recent history and wanting to finally put all the internal squabbles behind them, said:

"Time is as important as money at a certain point in your life. Maybe more important."


The book almost trembled in my hands when I read those words.

There is probably not one member of my generation that is not thinking that way right now.

1/01/14 knocked me off balance and pushed me to try harder. To try different approaches, to make a change, to coral my life meaningfully in my arms.

I have taken steps, but not enough and not big enough. I am good at letting myself down, but working harder at not doing so.

1/01/15 approaches. I hear it coming. 61. Just can't stop the thundering footsteps of time.

Since I cannot stop them I must work harder within them.

Went to Old Orchard Beach last week, Thursday to Sunday. Deeply restful for me and Carol. In addition I am on vacation this week.

Eleven consecutive days away from The Asylum, in total.

Feels like a thousand.

I am rested. Peaceful.

Focusing on working the change for the rest of this break. Tinkering with my insides and my habits.

The rich and the successful take months off to reinvent themselves. Especially creative types.

We little folk don't have that luxury.

But eleven days can be an eternity. If you make progress. If you effect change.

Time is more important to me than money because I ain't got a whole hell of a lot of it left, no matter how positively you choose to look at it.

60 ain't middle age.

To a certain extent, these days are an escape. But just escaping is not healthy because that ugly beast will still be there on Monday, September 15.

An intelligent person would put this time to good use.

How smart am I?


Monday, September 8, 2014

Wanna See The Cats Wanna See THE PATS

Made the annual trek to Old Orchard Beach.

Just like the Allman Brothers make the annual trek to The Beacon, only completely different.

Sweet release and maximum R&R.

A change of scenery is so therapeutic. Getting out and away just to remind yourself that working and licking wounds are not all there is to life.

We typically spend two nights up there. Arrive Friday around 1:00, enjoy Saturday, leave Sunday morning.

Too short. Too quick. Not enough. I was suicidal every Sunday morning.

We stretched it out this year and it made all the difference. Got there Thursday, left Sunday. Three nights and two full days.

Felt like a real vacation. Sunday morning I was exceptionally calm and ready to get home to see the cats and THE PATS.

The weather was gorgeous. We dug sun, sand and surf, junk food, booze, family, people watching, buying cheap but necessary  trinkets, long walks on the beach, deep conversation, trivial conversation, relaxing like we were the ones to invent the word.

I believe the relaxation is intensified because you are surrounded by thousands of people who are doing the same. Everybody there is getting away from it all and just digging on the beach and the sun and the warmth and the deliciously slow pace.

You absorb their calm, they absorb yours and the whole thing just feeds on itself.

Goddamn peaceful is what it was.

Chunks of time are spent sitting up on the second floor porch outside the room looking down on the beach. Listening to the waves. Watching families with little kids having a blast. Teenagers on the edge of innocence playing and teasing. People walking dogs, dogs that are free and happy to get soaked; wagging happy hellos to anyone bending over to rub their heads.

Dark nights looking out over the ocean and wondering how anyone ever got up the balls to voyage back in the day when navigation was by the stars and spotlights did not exist. Looking to the horizon and wondering what it would be like to live somewhere else, to live a different life.

Or to change your life, so the dividing line between every day and getting away does not feel like the edge of a razor blade.

Got to visit Sarge a couple of times. That put a perspective on things. Sarge, my heroic brother-in-law, is waging an immense battle against cancer. He is currently staying in a rehab facility very close to his home.

Friday, Corey and Kevin got him out of there and we visited him at home. He was in a wheelchair but his spirits were up. We were with him for a couple of hours, most of it outside on a beautiful day.

Carol, me, Lorraine, Sarge, Corey, Kevin and John. Seven close and loving family members enjoying time together. Simply. Honestly. Appreciatively.

Amazing, amazing, amazing.

Saturday he was not up for moving, so we went to the facility. He was wiped out in bed. At one point he got up to go to the bathroom and Carol suggested we get him in the wheelchair for a tour of the facility.

Brilliant idea.

Sarge perked right up and we took a long walk around this beautiful and peaceful place.

He was in my mind all weekend as I enjoyed our beautiful escape. He brought me deeper in appreciation of our vacation than I have ever been.

We walked downtown, checking out stores, in and out; checking out human beings being human, eating what we wanted when we wanted, sitting at stone tables in the circle with the ocean behind us and happiness all around us.

A few peaceful hours on the beach on Saturday, luxuriating in the sun, the sound, the ease; popping into the ocean to cool off and returning to the sand to dry off.

So simple, so beautiful.

We checked in with Kevin on Sunday before we left, and the news was not good. Sarge's brain is literally under assault and sometimes he has violent episodes.

Sunday morning it took two cops and a few nurses to subdue him. They moved him to a medical center.

That news weighed heavy on our minds as we drove home. Still, we kept the conversation light, laughed a little, and stayed positive.

Got home to the cats with love and relief. Missed them deeply, they missed us. Watched THE PATS play a terrible game and get their asses handed to them. First game of the season.

We were given a gift. A gift of having the resources to be able to go away. A gift of beautiful weather in a favorite spot, surrounded by loving family members. A gift of appreciation for the delicate beauty of life and being together in peace and happiness.

Sarge has brought many things to all of our lives over the years. Positive things, always.

Now he inspires us with his strength and determination as he fights fiercely.

He inspires us with his upbeat attitude.

Being around Sarge made an exceptionally beautiful weekend even more beautiful.

We spent three nights and two and a half days at Old Orchard Beach in Maine.

It did us a world of good.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

The Good Ole Days

I am reading "One Way Out - The Inside History of the Allman Brothers Band."

In 1973 a new roadie joined the band. He describes the experience thusly:

"Here's how things were in the rock and roll world in 1973: they taught me how to drive an eighteen-wheeler pulling a forty five foot trailer on the highway, with no special license, and my teacher sitting next to me drinking whiskey and snorting cocaine. Off to Watkins Glen!"

Nowadays people wear helmets to walk to the mailbox and rock bands play with bottled water sitting up on their amps.

I miss the good old days.

Monday, September 1, 2014


Kicked this loooooooooooong weekend off in grand style on Saturday.

Attended my cousin Tom's wedding to his partner Steve in a most exquisite setting.

First of all, the vibe for the day was set by this couple. They are fun to be around. They are positive, successful and loving. They bring something to this planet, as opposed to the many who subtract something from this planet.

The wedding was held on the property of a guy, a family member, who has conquered the world. This guy was the marketing director for THE PATS when they were busy winning three Super Bowls. He now runs his own marketing company. Private road leading to private beach on a gorgeous lake.

Outdoor wedding on the edge of a lake. Doesn't get any better than that.

The setting was spectacular and arranged to maximize leisure. Perfect weather, brilliant sunshine, not too hot, sun bursting off the surface of the lake.

Lounge chairs facing the beach for napping and sunning. Tables set up under a large tent for socializing and chowing. Access to the house for booze and bathroom. People water skiing, donut riding, jet skiing, and party boating. But not too many, not too noisy. Just enough to add to the atmosphere.

There was some friction before the beauty. Directions were perfect until we got within ten minutes of the place. Then they went goofy. We got completely lost. We stopped three times for directions. The first two times did not help. Strangers' smart phones said "you are real close" but still could not get us there. Third time was the charm. Talked to a native who told us we were right around the corner, and then got us there.

Problem was, neither of us brought our phone. We couldn't call the wedding party, they couldn't call us. They actually held up the ceremony for a while hoping we would show. We arrived in the middle of it. was a casual affair but I didn't get the memo. My brother spoke to Carol the night before and told her no tie, just shirt and pants. All I heard was no tie so I sported suit pants, a vest, a  dress shirt and a suit coat, all in black. As we jumped out of the car and hurried to the ceremony I noticed all the guys wearing Tommy Bahama shirts, casual pants and boat shoes. I was very pretty and extremely out of place.

The ceremony was beautiful, then the relaxation began. Appetizers circulating liberally, excellent dinner, top shelf booze.  This guy opened his home to us, including his well stocked bar.

I went looking for the Crown, the bartender had none (at the time). My brother pointed out they had Macallan, a premium scotch. 1.75 liter bottle. Probably cost $50,000. Had some of that and my taste buds rejoiced. Later on the bartender informed me they did indeed have Crown Royal. I went with that because I would have felt guilty invading this guy's home and sucking up all his expensive scotch.

But I digress.

Chowed down, enjoyed the company, everything was easy and relaxed. Come cake time we walked out onto the dock. There was a walkway leading out to a dock set up with a table and chairs.

Went out there with my beautiful wife, my brother, his ex-wife and absolutely relaxed. The dock was bobbing and weaving gently to the waves created by passing boaters. At one point my cousin Richard joined us. Eventually, Tom joined us.

That might have been the highlight of the day. It was so damn peaceful. So damn beautiful. Floating on the water, digging on family, chowing excellent cake (and I am not a big cake fan), absorbing the sheer sense of peace, nature, and ease.

It was one of those rare days. It was idyllic. Celebrating the love of a magical couple. Doing it in a setting that was spectacular. Doing it comfortably as our souls reveled in the recognition that this is what life is meant to be.