Monday, December 27, 2010

Wretched Ass Teenager

I've borrowed that phrase from one of my friends and we use it to lovingly describe my teenage son. The friends who have given me that phrase have raised three children to adulthood and survived the teenage years. There is hope for me as well. And, my daughter who is now 21 - she proves to me every day that there is life after the teen years and that your children do turn back into loving human beings.

I remember when I was a pre-teen and a teenager. Do you remember when the world was so clearly black and white and you mocked the hypocrisy of adults? In our day, for the most part, we didn't openly mock or talk back to our parents or other adults. Today's world, it is more common for the teenagers to tell their parents exactly how they feel without censor.

We squabble most of the time and find it hard to talk to each other. Although the moments when we do connect, we really do connect. The times that we don't connect, I know that he hears me even if he refuses to acknowledge it. He is listening and I find him acting on it later. But, Lord, do I need to pray for patience constantly!

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Final Days

A friend is losing her husband. It really sucks because she was in a very unhappy marriage that took her years and much pain to get out of. She went it alone for a few years with her two boys who are now grown men. She became involved in local politics and met a man who was a long-term bachelor. They became friends and then they became lovers and were married. She was happier than I've ever known her to be. Not very long after their marriage, he was diagnosed with Stage IV esophageal cancer.

Last Sunday, I went over to her house to watch him while she went Christmas shopping. Hospice had provided them with nursing visits, a feeding tube and a hospital bed. At that point, he was sleeping most of the time. About every hour, he woke up and tried to sit up and asked for his wife. Like a child, he was comforted by the news that she would be home in a few hours, each time asking me what time it was now and how long until she was expected home. When she got home, she gently woke him and told him she was home.

That night he was admitted to Hospice. I was not able to go visit her until Friday night. I spent several hours with them Friday night. He was not able to speak anymore; experienced quite a bit of what they call terminal restlessness; and needed to have her in his sight most of the time. It is hard to know what he is thinking as he is not able to talk. He seemed to recognize voices and he certainly tracked his wife with his eyes.

Saturday morning, I went over again. She tried to lay with him in his bed, but because of the way he was laying, it upset him too much. He could hear her voice, but could not see her. So she moved to the chair to hold his hand. Watching her with him these last week has been very moving. She speaks to him in a firm quiet voice, telling him that everything is ok, he shouldn't be upset, he should stop fighting, she has taken care of everything. It is hard to know how much he understands of what is going on around him, but today he smiled at her and lifted his head off the pillow so that she would kiss him. After she kissed him, he smiled again.

Friends come in and out to visit him. Some are not able to visit - it upsets them too much. This morning, his former neighbors came to see him. A young couple with a teenage daughter: The wife was able to visit with him but her husband began crying as soon as he came into the room. He fled quickly for the hallway and did not return. The teenage daughter was awkward and nervous in the face of death. She said hello and then also began to cry.

Hospice here is a wonderful place. The facility is beautiful and the nurses are so kind and helpful. But as my friend said today, no one should have to go thru this process.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Still Around

Sorry for not blogging much these days. Spend too much time on Facebook or getting other things done.

Will return soon.

Saturday, September 05, 2009

Journey in Atlantic City

I told one of the directors at work that I had won tickets to see Journey in Atlantic City. He said, "What? You're going on a journey?" Every time I go to a concert, he has no idea what or the band is. We went to a conference and the entertainment event was Don Henley. He sent me an email and said who is Don Henley and would I like his music?

Anyway, I won a radio contest and received two tickets to see Journey Friday night. Asked around and one of my friends was able to go with me. We wanted to leave around two, but due to work, we didn't really get going until 3:30.

We got to the Borgata in time to grab a quick bite to eat before the show. If you haven't been there before, it is a small theater, about 1,000 seats. I was happy to win the tickets, but I wasn't overly eager to go see Journey. I honestly didn't know much about them other than hearing their songs over the years. It was funny a few months ago, my now 14-year old son was telling me about his favorite song. He played it for me and it was the Journey song, Don't Stop Believing.

That is what I thought of when I thought of the band Journey - love songs - Faithfully; Don't Stop Believing; Anyway You Want It; Loving, Touching, Squeezing; Open Arms.....

The band came out on stage and my first impression was, they are old which means I am old. Weathered faces, mature bodies, holding their guitars and winking at the people in the front row, putting on their "hot rocker" gestures and expressions. Then their new lead singer came out. (I say new, but he's been with them since 2007.) He was little, Filipino, and leaping all over the stage, playing the air guitar, throwing his cordless microphone from hand to hand or flipping it up and catching it. He looked in his early 30's - a sharp contrast to the other band members. He sounded like Steve Perry. He overly emoted his facial expressions along with the lyrics and my first thought was Karoke! I felt that disconnect for almost the first half of the set. But by the end of the show, I wasn't thinking about the age of the members, their expressions or their gestures - I was immersed into the music. And, the band members seemed to warm up as well. I have to confess at the end of the night, I wasn't thinking that Noel and Jonathan were old and trying to look like younger rockers. I was actually thinking they were pretty hot and they could wink at me anytime.

But at the same time I was experiencing the disconnect with Arnel, I was struck by the expertise of the band members - Noel Schon, Deen Castronovo and Jonathan Cain. The live version of their songs allowed for much more extensive instrumentals than what a radio allows. We couldn't remember who their lead singer used to be - knew it was Steve... but couldn't think of the last name - so I googled Journey from my phone. We were shocked that Arnel, the new lead, was 41 years old. He doesn't look like he is in his 40's! But I also learned that Noel picked up the guitar for the first time when he was 5 and was professionally touring as part of Santana when he was 15. At 55, he is still incredible on the guitar and had many solos last night.

Deen, also sang many of the songs last night. Arnel cannot sing every song, not with the intensity of how he is singing the songs. (I liked it better when he was not trying as hard to sound like Steve Perry, but he is very good. Can you believe they found him on the internet by seeing some YouTube videos of some cover songs?) Deen is an fantastic drummer and it amazes me how someone can be as vigorous a drummer as he, while singing at the same time. Or, likewise, be jumping and running all over the stage, but at the same time singing without sounding like you are out of breath! Deen and Arnel got quite a workout during the set, but at least Arnel got the chance to run backstage every two or three songs. Vocals were alternated by Arnel, Deen and Jonathan. Every band member had the opportunity to perform at least one solo, generally more, to showcase their talents independently.

They played about two hours or so. Their tour schedule doesn't seem to be giving them too many nights off - they play again tonight, and two more times this week.

Thursday, August 06, 2009

Commuters and Regular Drivers

While driving to Philadelphia to see Billy Joel/Elton John last week with two friends, it occurred to me that I am no longer a regular driver. Actually, re-occurred or maybe just verbalized by me, because I have thought about it before.

When I was a child, we would go on family vacations and spent days in the station wagon on the road - to Florida or to Canada. Often we would go with another family and would follow that family in our car. Mr B was a traveling salesman. He flashed his lights at people who didn't drive fast enough or stayed in the left lane too long. He gestured a lot and was impatient. We tried to keep up with him, often times driving too quickly or switching lanes too often for my parents' liking.

Since I have become a long-distance commuter, I have become Mr. B. I don't flash my lights or gesture, but I am increasingly impatient and angry at drivers who drive the speed limit or slightly above the speed limit in the left hand lane. How dare someone go into the EZPass lane and slow down or God forbid, stop in the EZPass lane?!? My carpool members are also the same way. We take an evil pleasure in blocking someone from passing us on the right when we see them weave in and out of the lanes behind us. We mutter under our breaths when someone is driving too slowly in the left hand lane and refuses to move over to let us on our way. We glare at other drivers who cut us off and then later end up beside us.

Some of us react more strongly than others. One man in my carpool is by most appearances, very mild-mannered, and old-fashioned. He doesn't drink, doesn't swear and doesn't like to talk about 'questionable' topics. But behind the wheel of the car, he demonstrates a very strong road rage. Flash your lights at him and he is going to block your way in the left lane and refuse to let you pass. Cut him off by passing on the right and he is going to ride as close to the back of your car as he can.

I'd like to rig up my video camera as a dashboard cam so I could show some of the horrible driving we encounter. And, as we joked yesterday morning, our carpool stories and banter could make for a very successful comedy sitcom. A dashboard cam could pick up those stories as well!

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Doesn't Seem Right

When he was alive, the headlines were about how strange he was, how strange he looked, how strange he acted.... Now he is dead and all the people are being interviewed, saying they knew he was abusing drugs, they knew there were problems and they desperately tried to save him. Did they really do all they could? Now the headlines are all about him, news coverage 24/7, praising him, but at the same time, sensationalizing his finances, his lifestyle, his manner of death....

Millions of people are mourning his death, gathering in large crowds across the globe, buying tributes of flowers and other gifts to mourn his death.

Protestors are dying in Iran. Children are dying in Iraq, Afghanistan, Palestine, and Darfur. Where are the millions protesting and spending money on tributes or aid? Is it that as individuals, we feel there is nothing we can do?

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Political Unrest

Heard today that North Korea is going to annihilate the US. Why? Because inspecting one of their ships would be considered an act of war.

Heard today an Iranian protestor beg a tv correspondent to help the Iranian protestors. She cried and screamed on the phone, pleading for help, saying that they were being destroyed by the regime, asking why wouldn't anyone help them? He didn't know how to respond to her and there was an awkward silence after her pleas.

Heard today, the Iranian government say that Neda was shot by terrorist conspirators who set it up to look like the government killed her and then I heard them say that the government may have shot her, but it was an accident because they thought she was the sister of a terrorist.

Heard today a governor ask for forgiveness from his wife, his children and his constituents for deceiving them and for cheating on his wife.

Heard today that Cheney is going to get about $2 million at least for his memoirs. Profiting again from his mis-deeds.

Heard some of the Nixon tapes today where he coached Bush Sr. on getting more women (attractive women) involved in the Republican party.

With everything I have going on in my life and all I have to do, I can't stop checking Twitter and other sites to see what is happening with the Iranian protestors. My prayers are with them.