Tuesday, April 30, 2002

Triceratops Central

I had forgotten to mention that the night before the funeral there was snow. I thought it was funny in a bizarre sense. Not really funny funny, like Ha Ha funny... more like creepy funny.

I mean, it took all winter for there to be any snow. Winter ends, and we get snow. To go to his funeral in 8 inches of snow, I think he'd be laughing at us. We only got about 2 inches, and it was pretty much gone by the time we got to the funeral. But it was odd nonetheless.

Not much to report really...

Doug took all the clothing to the Salvation Army yesterday. He was on a mission. He has had a hard time dealing with this, and his hurried and was rather brusque while getting the items out of the house. It is just him trying to deal, he's not being an asshole. I was rather slow and pokey in going through what remained... and he got snippy with me. I got defensive. When I'm down, I'm slow. And yesterday I guess I was too slow. So we griped at one another for a while, and he and I both apologized and I sped up and he got less snippy. It worked out rather nicely in the end. We went out to lunch at the tavern in Georgetown, had a beer and a burger. Geoff was charming to the waitress.

I kept two flannel shirts of his, one of which he outgrew in 1999, the other of which I never got the chance to see him wearing. They're both nice, and warm... and I'll think of him every time I wear them. Doug retained his leather jacket, which is too big for him, but still looks nice on him.

He asked me "Do I look like the Mack Daddy of Merrimack Valley in this thing?"

Yes Doug, you do, and it's giving mad props to the man who left it behind.

We've only got the CDs, Magic cards and books left. Doug will do some research on the Magic cards to make sure we get a good deal on them. They are entire sets from the beginning. They look really nice... I wish I'd learned how to play Magic.

I said the other day that having no regrets is a nice thing. I guess I have only one. I wish I'd learned to play guitar or bass while I had him here. We would have made a kick ass ensemble. But for me, the desire to jam with was outweighed by the desire to just listen. I'll always have that.

Getting back to life is going slowly.

I forgot Jessica had a field trip today to Olde Sturbridge Village or some crap like that. She reminded me last night. Oy. She also didn't do her book report which was due yesterday, so she hurriedly finished it last night.

I was angry with her because she knew it was due... but on the other hand, I know that the last Monday of every month is book report day, and so I dropped the reminder ball.

I've been rather forgetful. We have bills that were due yesterday, and some due in the next 2 days, that I hadn't written the checks out for, so I hurriedly did that while she hurriedly did her report.

She had to be up to the school at 7:15 this morning to meet the class and go on the bus. I got her there in time after stopping for a pop-tart and Gatorade and snack for her lunchbag at the local Kwikiemart. Doug didn't look like he was going to go to work again today... he was slow to rise, slow to decide whether or not, and slow to ready, but he got out the door only 10 minutes late and I'm proud of him. He is taking this all extra hard. And there's nothing I can do but be nice. He just called, found out he has a meeting this afternoon that will run until 5:30 so he's kind of pissed and whiny. Nothing I could do but be nice.

I'm on the verge of pissing people off by not meeting my web design obligations. I have to find a good e-commerce host for the dart people and do a ton of work for the catering guys, so I have to get snapping. It's been so hard for me to focus. When I sit down here, I just stare at the PC. I actually got sick to my stomach last night when trying to research e-commerce sites, so I walked away. Tonight I have to nail that down. And I have to spend time today doing cateringman's stuff. I'm glad it finally stopped raining. Perhaps Geoff can play outside or with the neighbor girls while I work. I have to buckle down and concentrate.

I promised Geoff we'd run errands today. Don't ask. He loves errands. We have to go to the market, and pick up a prescription for me and for the dog, and I have film to be developed, so there are plenty of errands to do. I just don't feel like it just yet. I want to go back to bed or just sit and watch tv. I could use another day of nothing. But that would make me feel like I want another day of nothing. I want to call his sister and say hi and see how she is. Pick a time for that dinner in the city she wants to make for us.

Oh, and watching "The Sixth Sense" the other night was a BIGassed mistake, I should add.

I cried and cried my ass off at the end. I love Haley Joel Osment, and he is so good in this movie as the "I see dead people" kid. The whole character evolution, how sweet and lovely he is. It reminds me why I need to rail about A.I. (Dave B. said I didn't get the ending but oh I did. It sucked)... but I'll do that another day. The movie also takes place in Philly, and I remember watching it with him and having him point out all the places he'd been, and how this place and that place were so cool. So seeing them all again just made me cry. I tortured myself, it is true. I didn't have to watch, but it is such a good movie. If you've never seen it, I highly recommend it. Wonderful twist at the end... I didn't see it coming.

Geoff has been in nerdy little boy heaven with all of CAL's Triceratops figures... what's left of the original collection that he had.

He'd gone through a phase where he collected Triceratops related items. Why? Good question. We never figured it out. He did a website on "The Mighty Triceratops" which has vanished due to Geocities being dopes, and his IM id was MightyTrike, or MyTTrike... depending on which he wanted to use.

Triceratops was his favorite dinosaur, as if one needed to pick one, because it was the only one that could stand up to T-Rex and win. Plus, he said he was built like a Triceratops. Big and slow and smart. So he was into it.

A little too into it I might add. We'd talked a lot about how he had an addictive personality... if it wasn't fantasy baseball, or Magic, or D&D, it was the Triceratops... and then other things.

Geoff is oblivious to what people are going through right now, and I'm glad he is. He is so over emotional about stuff at times, so I think if he were 10 and dealing with losing his big buddy, he wouldn't do well.

He's happy to have the Triceratops, and asks about Ivy and how she's doing because she was sad when she was at our house this weekend, and he wants to see her again and give her a painting.

Jessica is dealing well, but it has been so long since she has really spent time with him that the impact on her is a lot less than what one might think. The important lesson here for her is the drug lesson... what happens to people when they slip into addiction is very serious. And it leaves quite a mess behind. So her eyes are open... her understanding is clear. I'm glad she's my kid. She's amazing to me.

There are a friggin ton of Triceratops (Triceratopses? Triceratae?) in my house right now and it is making me laugh.

Well, I'm going to save this and post it. I'm going to eat breakfast. Geoff's watching Bob the Builder, and we need to get going.

Time to live. Time to run errands.

Sunday, April 28, 2002

Walk On, Walk On...

And if the darkness is to keep us apart
And if the daylight feels like it's a long way off
And if your glass heart should crack
And for a second you turn back Oh no, be strong
Oh, Oh Walk on, Walk on
What you got, they can't steal it
No, they can't even feel it
Walk on, Walk on
Stay safe tonight
And I know it aches
How your heart, it breaks
You can only take so much

Walk on
Walk on

Thanks, Bono

He had in his possession every single U2 CD, single CD release, every EP, he has them all. They are in my living room. He wrote in his journal that their music gave him such joy. Throughout our friendship, they were integral, a cornerstone. We saw them together.

I'm keeping them.

The funeral went as well as funerals can go. His mom and sister asked us to join them at the funeral home for viewing. No one else was invited.

I can't even begin to talk about my thoughts and feelings upon seeing him there in a casket. It absolutely broke my heart to see his mom standing there running her fingers along his hairline above his ear the way mommies do to their little boys when they talk to them. I cried and cried and shit I'm starting to cry right now.

The tie I picked out looked great with the shirt that I brought. I thought they'd clash. But they looked fine. I was relieved. I forgot to bring the guitar to the graveside. I kicked myself for that -- I was so busy trying to get the program that I'd made printed that I braincramped and didn't realize until we'd gotten all the way to Beverly. By then, there was no time to turn around and go back. Mom and sis were so kind to ask us to come be with before hand. He didn't want a big funeral with public viewing. This would have broken so many hearts. It would have been devistating for people to see.

I'm glad people were spared that.

The funeral was well attended. I had hoped 200 people would come, but about 50 or 60 were there. People from the old gang at college, people from the college where we worked. People from the YMCA. It was a good mix of each of the three big circles that he swam in. The only circle not represented was the heroin circle. There were a few people I knew who would have been deserving to be there -- but his mom is really upset and didn't want to have them there. I can't say as I blame her in any way... I spoke to one of them and told her that they should go after.

I felt bad -- it isn't bad enough that they are shunned by their own family sometime, but a few of them were actually saved by his efforts. And they deserve to mourn too. So I told the woman I talked to that I'd go with her if she wanted.

I kind of feel like we're a bridge between two universes, Doug and I. It makes me so sad.

Meh. I weep. It's hard to really express what I feel.

The "program" came out very nice. The desktop publisher at Staples was super cool and helpful... and impressed with my work. I had to laugh. When he realized what it was he was kind of heartbroken and went out of his way to do it quickly so I could get home and ready.

After all that time I spent looking for the picture from when he lived with Gregg in Wilson hall, I gave up and used the one Naomi had scanned for me. Smitty called me last night and told me "I have this great picture of him playing his guitar in that room he lived in with Gregg..."

No. You're kidding me.

"Is he wearing a black t-shirt?"

"Yeah, I think it's a banana republic shirt."

He took the picture, not me or Gregg, but we each had a copy of it at some point... So Smitty has the original. I had no idea. So he's sending it to me. I know some people who want a copy of that... us chiefly among them.

I was on autopilot when I made the thing, and put the journal entry he had that I put here into the program. It didn't occur to me until AFTER Charles read it out loud that there were people there who didn't know about his drug use.

Oh my God, I'm such a friggin' IDIOT!

And it didn't occur to me that it might hurt his mom to hear, even though his openness with his own salvation and redemption was so clear. What the hell was I thinking! She didn't say anything when she read it. She was stunned I think.

And I'm kicking myself and kicking myself for not thinking. I thought the entry was so perfect and so explanatory. I talked to Gregg about it, and he expressed that while I may feel like I betrayed his mom by putting that in there, perhaps my big error may just do some good? Truth sets people free.

I hope? I pray.

We went to the beer works afterwards to do the thing he'd always told me he wanted -- he wanted everyone to get together for a drink, play some pool, and lift a glass in a toast. I lead the toast and looked out over the group, just about everyone who was at the cemetary was at the beer works, and I know how much laughter he gave each of those people. And it made me want to scream that he wasn't there and start freaking out, but I kept my composure.

The beer works opened the pool tables and took the panel off that makes you have to pay for pool, so we could play free. The waitress was hella awesome. The whole staff took us in and treated us well. It was a very nice gathering.

A lot of laughter, and a lot of fun. I talked forever with Bonnie, and we talked about how we always know the other one is "right there" all the time even though we don't get together enough and how that is a huge mistake. In the last 9 years or so, since Jessie was born really, the opportunities to be together thinned out. I had a baby, she was the urban professional rocking out to her boyfriend's bands... I was in bed at 9.

She's got a baby now, and her life is changed. And I have a feeling there will be more time together. I'm glad we didn't lose each other in this period of time -- the way we lost this week. And we have the time to regroup, renew, say the I Love Yous that we know deep in our hearts but don't say outloud often enough. It was good to have that.

All the buddies were there, Brian, Ben and Dan, Michelle, Dave, Tam, Gregg and Karry and Abbadabba, all the kids from the college, Jason, Justin, Ben, Doug, Julian (the piano player), Holly his old girlfriend from College came, it was so good to see her and her baby ... the circle was completed.

I had a blast, and I so know he would have been so happy. I left there with joy in my heart. I think in the end, we did it right by him, did just what he told me he wanted us to do. So I'm not the major cock-up I think I am.

I've talked to and gotten email from a lot of people who have just sat down and are re-evaluating what they've been doing with their lives, similar to what Bon and I talked of after the funeral. I have heard a lot of quietly stunned people say things like "I've let go of everything I once held as important and what's it going to get me if I die suddenly without reconnecting with friends, or apologizing, or having dinner with my mom..." so if anything, this time of reflection and personal repentance has come on some friends.

Me too. I picked up the phone and called some people to say out loud "I love you so much, and am so thankful you are a part of my life."

The best talk was with my buddy Gregg, whom I've felt very disconnected from over the past couple of years even though we spent time together and worked together. I feel like we were going through the motions. That once there was this firey happy friendship and now we're both just too tired to put in the effort. So it was a very awesome talk... and I'm glad to have had it.

So go, pick up the phone. I bet there are a couple people you have kind of lost contact with who you have always wanted to say "you rock my world and I love you" to... aren't there?

Perhaps it is your mom. An old boyfriend or girlfriend and you just have to let them know you're doing well and you valued what you had together and love them still but with that ongoing kind of love, not the I want to jump your bones kind of love. Perhaps it is God that you need to talk to right now, you feel disconnected from the divine, from the sacred. If that connectivity is clear and solid, all your relationships benefit. Whomever it is that you are called to reconnect with -- Go. Now. Do it.

Having no regrets is a beautiful thing.

And once you do that, Walk On.

Mom and Sis came to go through all his belongings yesterday afternoon. They left all the clothing and asked if we'd take them to the salvation army.

They left books & CDs and Doug said he was going to take them to second hand stores and whatever money he gets we'll donate to the YMCA on his behalf. His sister cried, because that would have made him so happy -- to know what he had left would go to the kids.

He has a palm pilot and a gameboy advance that he told his sister "I want Jessica to have these," a few days before he died and she had no idea why he'd want to tell her that then. Perhaps he had an idea that he wasn't going to be here long. So she's going to have us down to her place and make us dinner, and give Jessie the things he wanted to give her that she currently has in her posession.

Today is pouring rain. Doug said today that the sky is crying, just like Stevie Ray's song. Gregg said to me on the phone that the first thing that crossed his mind when we lost CAL was the Stevie Ray connection... the fact he took time to clean himself up, and that perhaps while we don't understand why either of them had to die so young, that God figured hey, I'm taking my boys back before they can mess themselves up again. Before they have to go through that again. I love them enough to remove them from their vessels, and leave a legacy behind which will bring a smile to some faces.

"The sky is cryin. Can't you see the tears roll down the street?"

Wednesday, April 24, 2002

The Parable of the Lost Sheep

Thank you Leann. Thank you Don. Thank you for bringing her back to him. Thank you.

"What do you think? If a man owns a hundred sheep, and one of them wanders away, will he not leave the ninety-nine on the hills and go to look for the one that wandered off? And if he finds it, I tell you the truth, he is happier about that one sheep than about the ninety-nine that did not wander off."
- Matthew 18:12-13

"The Parable of the Lost sheep is about [how] the sheperd [sic] would leave his 99 other sheep on the hill side to look for the one missing one, and how happy he is to find it. God feels the same way about us. Well, I'm the lost sheep and God has found me.I feel like God would be unhappy with me for using and relapsing, stealing and lying etc, but Jesus says that God is happy to have found me. That's pretty cool."
-CAL, 10-3-01


He reminded a lot of us of Snorlax. My kids thought it was really funny... and he went right along with the joke, and started to get into Snorlax...

He had sleep apnea, was a big guy, snored a lot. Funny thing about Snorlax though, if you know your Pokemon, is his defense is sleeping. He falls on opponents or yawns at them. He's grumpy. It's the dumbest pokemon ever, but... funny as hell.

He snored like a friggin' motor home trying to drive up the side of a mountain... sputtering, gagging, sawing and spewing. Noisy as hell. I remember Ben shared a room with him once at a conference and I forewarned Ben about the snoring. The next day I said to him "How'd ya sleep?" in a joking and knowing way, and just got the evil eye... the joking, knowing evil eye.

He also looked like Chef from South Park, especially when he work a red t-shirt. He would sing deep and low like Chef, and would lovingly refer to my children (not to their faces but to me) as "my little crackers."

There are so many funny, funny things about him that crack me up. So many funny memories that I've been wallowing in. Stuff I want to write about, stuff I don't ever want to forget.

Doug got all the belongings from his car.

We went through a lot of his stuff last night. Doug found his journal from rehab, a daily regimen the house residents were required to do. Six months of light, one-page entries with some humor and a few confessions sprinkled through, and it ends with him going off for his first interview at Brandeis with a tone in his writing that expressed he believed he wasn't going to get the job.

Based on his own self-doubt and self-loathing, and the mess he left behind at both the other academic institutions he worked for, perhaps he was right. It was difficult to read.

There was very little insight into what he wanted from his future... but lots of daily inventory of "today was a great day." I am mentioned only once, the day he came to get his guitar, and it is only in passing. He was happier that the weather was good than he was to spend a half hour with me. I was happier than I'd been in months to spend time with him, and floated on cloud 9 about it for days after it happened. He had other thoughts and priorities to keep straight in his day to day head.

He had lists of things in a small journal, apart from the home journal. There was a list of people he wanted to renew relationships with, I knew all of them. The two students from the college he worked with, Chad and Remi, and a girl named Sarah he knew from Philly who went to our college.

There was a full list of every song he could play on the guitar flawlessly from memory. The list made me burst into tears. So many of those songs I sang with him playing. He taped me singing "Crazy Love," so that I could sing harmony to it. I remember the look on his face the first time I sang along with the tape... his jaw dropped. I made him squeal when the song was over. It was flawless. I can see us, sitting in the bathroom in my apartment in Hamilton, MA in 1989 on a hot summer afternoon. Just like it was a week ago. Just like it was a million years ago. The bathroom was dark forest green with a large vanity counter top. The tape recorder sat across from me. He sat on the floor.

There are other items in his stuff, papers he was required to write as part of the rehab. They are interesting reading and shed more light on him where he was at that moment.

One paper listed out the things he was thankful for in the last five months. First on the list was me for getting him his first job in the field he loved -- computer repair. Further on the list was "the Geigers" for giving me the first apartment that I got to live in alone.

Perhaps that was the problem. He was alone for the first time, even though he never was really alone. There was no lock on the door between our apartment and his, and he was often over here. Perceived loneliness or abandonment... boredom. The sense that perhaps he was a pain in the ass when he came over to hang out. Sometimes he was... othertimes it was like college and was a blast to have him over to watch a movie. He spent a lot of time with Chad and Remi upstairs before they moved to the Carolinas, and then after they left, well, we lost him wholly.

Eventually he stopped coming over to see us, and his life with heroin began.

He never was a nuisance, he never was a pain in the ass. I think he was looking to spend more than just an hour or two after work with friends. He was looking for an all day friend, or something to help him forget he didn't have an all day friend. And he found the later. Whatever the case may be, I'm not going to sit here and analyze it any more.

The funeral is Friday. His sister wanted us to find his dress suit in the stuff we got. She'd bought it for him for his interview at Brandeis.

Along with the guitar, the suit is nowhere to be found, which perplexes her. She wonders what else of his stuff is among the missing and where he could have left it. I am hoping the guitar shows up, there are people who saw him in the past few days who may have some of his things. A friend of his said she was going to make some calls, see if he was anywhere with it with the people they both knew.

I am praying it turns up.

I got a great email from Chad. In part, he says this:

"There were countless afternoons that he would come upstairs after a crappy day of cleaning mouse cages at Charles River and we would play video games or Magic the Gathering. I couldn't tell you how many movies the 3 of us went to. I don't think I'll ever understand some of the decisions he made. Maybe he just got tired of being a third party and was lonely.

I remember how in one evening he learned how to play "Crash into Me" on the guitar.

I remember the night he set his apartment on fire because he put the rug over the heating duct.

I remember the countless hours put into the "Mighty Trike Homepage" and how he turned a couple of rookies into devious Magic playing fanatics.

I wish I had known him longer. Sometimes I feel as if I was born just a couple years too late.

I will never pass a YMCA without thinking about that man. Or sit through another sci-fi movie without thinking about what he would have liked about it and what he would have made fun of.

He always made me laugh.

And now I have to be sad and think about all the things he'll miss that he would have loved.

He won't get to see Spiderman or the rest of the Star Wars films. I'll never get his opinion on the next up and coming indie music artist. Like you, I have a hard time believing it. I'll still wait for a "ding" on the Internet one night and hope triceratops69 will be the sender. Even little things like that still crack me up.

So, when you have your little get together raise a glass to the guy for me because I don't drink. I wish I could drive up there and be with you guys to share these memories because then I could laugh through my tears with the other people who cared about him.

I have to say my life was a lot easier to take in stride because of his input. His perspective on things was astounding and I will never forget it."

Thank you Chad.

This was very sweet to get, and I plan on giving it to his family. I want to put together a little collection of memory things for his sister and mom, contacting friends to have them write out a little something for a collection. Say one nice thing about him please... but not immediately. I want to give a little time. I want a little distance. More perspective. Less crying.

Tuesday, April 23, 2002

The mess you leave behind...

They say to live life fast and leave a beautiful corpse. Eat, drink and be merry, for tomorrow we die. There are also other things you should leave behind. Or not leave behind.

Leave behind a legacy that doesn't leave people angry, shaking their heads in confusion.

Leave behind family and friends who don't have to leave out the details of your life's ending because it is too painful or embarrassing for them, for your sake and the sake of your cherished memory.

Leave behind tears of joy when you go.

I don't care if your corpse is beautiful or not... no one will. Just make sure the circumstances and situation you leave behind don't add extra pain for those who are going to have to contend with it.

Right now I'm sitting in the wake of tears of joy, anger, screams and shouts.

I am sick to my stomach.

I've been fielding calls from people who have heard, people who don't understand. I'm trying to be helpful to his and his mom. I want to do more to help, because I feel as if I was a miserable failure when trying to help him when he was still here. And perhaps it will make me feel just a tad better.

I am kicking myself for not being there at the door to pick him up from rehab with an iron grip and piercing gaze, and a hug that says "I love you and want to see you make it this time, please please please be good..."

I'm mad as hell at him for telling me on the phone day after day in the last month "Yeah, everything is great! I'm out of rehab and doing super!" Because once again, the lies were easy to believe.

I talked to his sister today, she's trying to arrange to get the contents of his car from the place where the Beverly Police put it -- up in Lowell at the dealership where she got it for him.

We am going to help her get his things. I am waiting to hear back from her as to when we can go to get it.

I want it to be today.

I want to be done with these people from that phase of his life. I had as little to do with them as I could. I know them by name, by sight, and trust me when I confess to you that the first thing on my mind when I think of them is how can I inflict as fast and furious an injury upon them as possible.

But that wouldn't change anything.

My best friend is still dead.

All I want out of there is his guitar, and to see if he kept a journal like I told him he should... His sister wants his computer, because it is valuable monetarily and she doesn't want anyone to profit from his death, even if it is for a couple hundred bucks. I can't blame her at all.

I want to make sure that his mom has the guitar in the end, to do with what she wants. To save as that part of her son which through his good times and his bad times was always constant... Whatever sort of memorial we have, I will ask her for the guitar to have it sitting there unplayed and untouched on a guitar stand. Hopefully we can find it. Hopefully it hasn't vanished. It is such an important icon for me about him, that if it's lost I'll cry and cry. It will devastate me to no end. It's all anyone has left.

One of the funniest memories I have of him involves that guitar. He had taken my position as the helpdesk coordinator at the college when I became webmaster, and really loved working with the kids. He had a long history of youth oriented work with the YMCA and other camps, and working with kids, even college kids, was so important to him.

Work was sometimes no fun, so he decided with a couple other guys who played instruments that they should jam at lunchtime and have some fun. There was an abandoned piano in an empty part of the new building where we were stationed, so he and the kids wheeled it into the helpdesk area and up the stairs.

At lunch, one kid would play piano, he would jam on his guitar, and all they knew how to play was "Wonderwall" by Oasis.

The director of the department caught wind of the piano one day and marched up into the room. The piano was tucked up against the wall when it wasn't being played. At this particular moment, everyone was working. He was standing in the room talking to one of his employees, a student ready to go out into the field to do the thankless dirty work of fixing yet another broken computer on that campus.

The director was angry and pointed at the piano and said "What is THAT doing in here?"

CAL turned and looked, and as if seeing a big pile of jewels or something you wouldn't expect to see sitting in the shop, he yelled 'Ah!!!!! Where'd THAT come from!" with astonishment.

So much so that everyone in the room, except the director, cracked up. I mean, we were peeing laughing. And he was too.

But the director was furious. "Get that out of here..."

He and the kids didn't have the time to justify that it was there only to bring joy to the hearts of the "sled dogs" during their once a day lunch break. It was good while it lasted, but just one of many examples of what he had to deal with, and how his vision of work was different from that of the boss.

Guess who the kids respected more.

Guess who they loved more.

Guess who people miss when he's gone. Yup.

I just got off of the phone with one of the guys who worked for him, and he broke down in tears while we were talking. That kid is working at a major university in the Boston area doing help desk work. He learned so much from him. So much more than any liberal arts college or history professor or math teacher could ever teach him.

I hung up the phone and cried and cried. Oh my God. I can't believe he's dead. I am so sad. I am so sorry for this... I am so going to miss him.

And the thing that is pissing me off more than anything is the loss of potential. The what could have been. What should have been. There are so many people who SHOULD have for years to come enjoyed that kind of mentoring. That kind of friendship. This is so fucking unfair.

He changed lives while being someone's boss. He wasn't just someone's supervisor, the guy you go to and say "uh, whattaya want me to do now, boss?"

He was awesome and wonderful and caring. People wanted to know him. People wanted to work with him. He was so much better than people ever gave him credit for. He changed and helped so many people.

The thing I loved about him was he was all about business when it was time to be all about business. He took work seriously. He taught the kids. Worked beside them instead of supervising over them. He was above them but among them, in the trenches, not in meetings deciding how to incorrectly do things around campus.

But when it was time to just kick back, even a little, he wanted the opportunity to give people joy. And again, he was with them. Enjoying as much as he could with them.

The piano was just one example of how he wanted to make life at the college a more enjoyable place for the guys who busted their asses day in and day out for thankless end users and administrators and faculty who played political head games with one another and the department at the students' expense.

He wanted people to have a nice time. He always recognized that. And no one is having a nice time right now.

So, if your mission in life is to make sure people have a nice time, when you die, do me a big favor, wouldya? Make the circumstances less painful. Make it so they'll cry remembering how wonderful and super you were, recalling funny crap, instead of lamenting what could have been.

Make the loss be just that -- a loss of you, not a loss of you and what could have been in your future.

Don't leave your friends and family saying that it's a crying shame.

By the way, in his drug use, I wanted to make it clear that his heroin use was not via injection.

So if you knew him, don't picture him sitting in a room melting heroin on a spoon and tying off his arm to shoot up. He sniffed it. It's a lot more expensive that way. Always, always the more difficult path for him.

He hated needles. And when he got into this I shook my head and told him that he's the only one in the whole big circle of friends he was making who was a sissy. I didn't want to challenge him to shoot up, I just wanted him to realize he was such a nancy and that perhaps this scene was not for him.

He laughed, and he shrugged and admitted it. He was a nancy when it came to pain. I just shook my head and told him that he had to stop doing this to himself. He stopped laughing, bit back tears, and nodded. "Yeah. I will."

Monday, April 22, 2002

He's Gone.

This is not the kind of thing I intended to write today. I wanted to rail about how much the ending of A.I. sucked. I wanted to tell you about our adventures Down East. But we got a phonecall last night that wasn't entirely unanticipated, but no fun to get just the same. And here I'm faced with reflecting on a life that shouldn't have been cut short.
A life belonging to a person whom I loved with all my heart.
I've mentioned him here before. I never talked too much about his situation specifically, because I held his confidence as sacred.
He was open about his attempts to kick heroin, even going as far as to just give everything up that he had, job, home, everything -- to go into a six month hardcore treatment program. And I never wanted it to be that just because he was open I'd be open. It wasn't my fight or my experience.
So in the background of my life, in the corner of my mind, a constant thought was held of of him. A constant prayer vigil. A constant knot in my stomach wondering when he was going to call me next... and now he isn't.
He died yesterday afternoon in Beverly Hospital. He was 34.
He got out of rehab on or about March 28. He was interviewing for jobs. I sent a letter of recommendation to Brandeis University for a job there in the IT department. He was working at a Mailboxes Etc... to make money while in the rehab and just couldn't wait until he could get back into academic computing. He met David Mamet while working at the MBE and had great discussions with him, after all, He was an English major in college and knew his theatre and movies cold.
He moved into a sober house right after rehab. He was supposed to come to my house yesterday afternoon and get that car we'd taken into holding for him while he went to take care of himself.
He had a cardiac arrest at some point while working on his car. They couldn't revive him.
That's all the detail I really know. We got a call from his sister about 8:30 p.m... I wish I knew more.
But I do know this:
He introduced me to my husband. He overslept my wedding. He used to bounce checks when he ordered bacon pizzas from Beverly Pizza parlors. He took my daughter to camp for free. He could beat anyone at "Six Degrees to Kevin Bacon..." we'd play it just driving down the street. I'd throw two actors at him and he'd connect them immediately, usually through "Tombstone," and we'd crack up laughing.
He had an infectious laugh. His whole body shook. He would cover his mouth and giggle like a girl just to crack me up. He was embarassed by his teeth, but that never stopped him from cutting loose and laughing hard. He was one of the most generous and helpful people I've ever known, but that always got him into situations where he was taken advantage of, either in work, friendship or in relationships. He always got handed the shitty end of the deal.
He loved to play stratomatic baseball, dungeons and dragons, guitar, and Magic, the gathering. While incredibly talented on the guitar, he couldn't sing to save his life, so I would sing for him while he played, and it would always make me happy... He introduced me to "Homicide: Life on the Streets," Ani DiFranco, Indigo Girls, MP3 storage and ripping. He was incredibly kind and loving to our children.
He is dead.
I am surrounded by what's left of his personal property. A car full of stuff, things in my basement... things that he never took out of the house when we told him to move out in 1999 which are in this room, my garage, my daughter's bedroom closet. A couple crates of comic books. A Rocky Horror Picture Show poster. His college ID which he left on the floor and I'm going to keep forever... I'd always said I would. All weekend my daughter wore a nice red knit sweater that he'd "outgrown" while living here. He gave it to me and I "outgrew" it too. It looks nice on Jessie. I had sewn the hole in the shoulder... and I thought of him every time I looked at her in it. How he would have laughed that she fit in it and he once did.
There are so many funny funny stories.
He was the most peculiar guy I've ever know. Liked the weirdest stuff. Got bored one day and tried heroin. End of conversation.
I feel like there should have been more we could do to help him. I think we did just enough, but couldn't do more because we were so removed from the reality he was choosing for himself. There was nothing we could do, but we did what we could.
I can't think of anything else to say. I feel like throwing up. I am still in the process of, well, processing what just happened. I'll write more later.
Joy will find a way

Wednesday, April 17, 2002

What I hate about myself....

Self loathing.

Most journals are full of self pity, self loathing, self deprecation... my journal is mostly filled with la di da bullshit that makes people feel warm and fluffy until I come across some crisis or throw some F bombs around.

My journal can stand to have a little self-torture in regards to self-examination about what I hate about the self in question.

A lot of people hate the way they look. Their bodies. Their hair. Their souls. Their hearts. I hate none of that about myself. I'm okay with being fat, but not resigned to it for life. I kind of dislike my skin color, but that's neither here nor there. I have a decent soul, I try my best. But the thing that chaps my britches most about me is the fact I have no memory of where I put things.

This has come up before. I freaked out because I misplaced my keys one day. It made me late for work, and I swore I would never misplace anything again. I've done pretty well. I put my keys on a hook by the front door every time I come in the house. They are always there.

But in this case, I have my keys.

I can't find my damn digital camera.

I've misplaced cameras before. I find them in glove compartments of cars that we are getting ready to donate to charity. I find them under seats in said cars, in diaper bags, in backpacks... Behind piles of books. Half used rolls of film inside... meanwhile I've already gone out and purchased another camera and I feel like a dingus...

But the digital camera -- that's a nice camera. That isn't your 60 dollar dummy self-focus camera. That's a chunk of change with upgraded memory card in it which costs almost what the camera costs, which makes it the most expensive camera I've ever owned.

I had it in my hand on Monday, out on the deck.

I intended to take some pictures of Geoff and Doug doing yard work.

I remember having it in my hand when I went in the basement to move laundry around.

I remember putting it in my front pocket while I carried said laundry around.

I distinctly SEE it in my mind sitting on the table next to the plant I sent Doug for his birthday in January 2000. I don't know if that was before or after I went out on the deck. I have lost the train of presence of camera, and it is missing. Gone. Vanished. And I'm ripping my hair out.

I'm wandering around the house, looking for it. I am stumbling around muttering like Ozzy under my breath, "Sharon, I had the fuckin' camera in my fuckin' hand just yesterday. Where the fuck did it go? Did one of the kids fucking take it? Fuck!"

(aah yes. F bombs uncensored! Long live freedom of inappropriate speech in the a_musings journal!)

Sigh... the really really bad BAD part of this is that tomorrow I was loaning it to Catering Man and his business partner so they could take a shite load of pictures for their website and we could begin to build their photo gallery... showcase their actual food instead of me stealing (er, uh, creatively appropriating) pictures from elsewhere on line. I was supposed to bring it with me to work today, show them how it works. Give them the sweet n'lowdown on how to take nice digipics... and then rock the planet with these pictures.

But no.

I can't friggin find it.

I am so damned frustrated with myself. I'm not mad at my family or the camera... I'm pissed at ME. I've gone MONTHS without misplacing something, due to the constant diligence of making sure I put stuff right where I can see it, and the fact that when I put something down I actually say OUT LOUD to myself "your ____ is on the ____." so I don't forget. Saying it out loud seems to make a world of difference. But now. I didn't say anything to myself when I placed the camera down. I have no idea. No clue. No recollection of where it could be. And I'm pissed.

I feel badly because the Catering Men were counting on me. Sigh. This bites.

Aside from being mad at myself I'm freaking exhausted. I got home at 9 last night. Geoff freaked out when I left and gave Doug an unbelievably hard time. When I'm not here, his name is Hellion. When I walked through the door, he stood with his hands on his hips and said "You're fired. You're out of this family."

Fine. Whatever. I'm fired. Good. Read your own damn bedtime story and change your own damn sheets when you have an accident. I don't friggin care anymore.

(Jessica rehired me by the way. She needed something last night and asked for my help. I told her to do it herself because I was out of the family... so she rehired me, which pissed Geoff off. I love messing with my kids.). Last night I woke up at 4am and went to the bathroom, woke Geoff up so he could do likewise, and then went back to bed. I couldn't fall back asleep. I laid there... laid there... and then at about 5a.m. all the birds in the neighborhood started in like a ton of car alarms going off at once at top volume.

It was that loud and annoying.

I think I fell back asleep around 6. The alarm went off at 8 and I was deep in dream sleep, totally zonked out. Dead. And the alarm goes off. When I wake up at those times, I still think I'm dreaming when I'm in the bathroom and go to use the john. I have to tell myself outloud "you are awake and in the bathroom, you aren't peeing in bed." Do any of you have experiences like that when you're asleep or not quite awake? It is one of my biggest fears -- messing the bed. But I digress.

Today it was back to catering land... where I was most productive. This is what I did:

1. Scallops and bacon, thank you very much. 250 pieces. I kicked their scallopy asses most righteously!

2. made croutons, which I've done in past. They rocked steady.

3. julienne sliced several tons of veggies for Catering Man's special gorgeous Asian spring rolls, rock right the hell on. I used a "mandolin" slicer on the zucchini and summer squash, and did the carrots and celery on the big slicer to get them small, then cut them tiny. I'm not good at julienne slicing, this was my first experience, and I think I did okay. I'm sure Catering Man himself will pick through the slices and make smaller that which stands to damage the fragile skin of the spring rolls, and will curse the day I was born the whole time, but heck... I think I did a good job.

4. Lemon Thyme Mayonnaise. Yup. I made lemon thyme mayonnaise. It kicked ASS. I'm so gonna whip us up some here some day. Wicked good on roast beef and on chicken breast. MMMMMMMMM mmmmmmmm yeah.

I worked from 9 to 3:30. I'm getting better at being on my feet. Yesterday was a 3 hour day, and I felt fine by the time I got home. Today I took some ibuprofen at lunch, and feel superb right now. Then, I came home and resumed the search for the camera, and resumed my self hatred.

I guess I'm fully employed here now because I have to figure out what to do for dinner. Doug has a hella bad cold, and Sweet Lady Benadryl took his soul from him this afternoon once I got home. He slept the sleep of the ill for three hours. I searched for camera, worked on webpages. Geoff has been in stunningly good form all afternoon. I let him do dishes... big mistake. He said he wants to help me around the house. His definition of helping was putting 1/2 a bottle of super concentrated dish soap onto a sponge with some Windex and wiping everything in the kitchen. So I had that to clean. Huzzah.

Well. I need to go keep an eye on him. He's in the yard, and it has finally cooled off outside. Record high temperatures here today... Catering Man's kitchen was hella hot, and when I got home it was 96 in my livingroom. No fans have been pulled out yet. The temperature outside on the deck was 98, but that is warped when the sun hits it after 3pm.

Now it is 68 degrees outside... and 80 in the living room. It's getting better every minute.

Alright. Lift a prayer or send some mojo for me to find the camera. And I'll stop hating myself for my error and turn it over to God and let him drive the search... hopefully it will turn up. And I feel a cool breeze on the deck calling me. With a beer. Hella good.

Actually, lift prayers of thanks. Since typing that, Jessica came in and asked me what I was doing. I told her... and she noticed on the screen that I couldn't find my camera. She helped me retrace the steps (which I've done above) and then said that she'd help me look.

The camera was in Geoff's room. He must have "creatively appropriated" it. I promised her if she found it I'd get pizza. Better make that call... and give proper thanks to the Holy Spirit for guiding my very bright daughter right where she was needed.

See what happens when you just give up and turn it over? Rock on Faith.

She is so smart. She is so smart. S-M-R-T. S-M-A-R-T!

He is so evil. He is so evil. E-V-L. E-V-I-L. Kidding.

Tuesday, April 16, 2002

Manic Tuesday

Why do I set up work on days where I have to be somewhere in the morning, work like crazy, and the go somewhere in the evening to work some more? It makes for a very long day. I worked for catering man this morning and before starting there met with his business partner to go over the website thus far and get more content. He gave me a shitload of menus, text, contact form stuff... I did a bunch of work today, but still have a great deal to do.

Working there today was a lot of fun. Catering man didn't exactly have stuff for us to do, he stayed up until 4am doing paperwork that had to get done for the business, so he didn't get to the market and buy stuff for us to prep, so we did a big cleaning/condensing of what he had in stock in the freezers. He made us lunch, and I started working on crutons, and then he let me go at about 1pm. Which was cool. But it's a long long time until I'll be hitting the hay tonight... Tonight I'm going to the dart store to meet with the other clients. I don't think I'll get home until 10pm.

Their site has taken quite a while... they still haven't picked a host because they need someone who can do online shopping carts and not rip them off. So I have to iron out what their needs are, and help them pick a host. This should be interesting. My host said they'll do it for them at a reasonable price, but the guy had some issues based on credit card charges... Whatever. I should care, but right now I'm mostly tired of life. Not so much tired of these clients, they are cool. I am just plain dogshit tired. I should nap before going to meet with them. Or at least get some coffee. My children are fighting like crazy and I want them to resolve their issues without me getting involved, but I can see/hear that isn't going to be possible.

I don't know why they have to fight like this. Geoff is out of control, and Jessie is a control FREAK when it comes to him. She's bossy and overbearing, which causes him to push back, and her to fight with him, and then the next thing I know they are pinching, smacking and poking each other.

Why, oh Lord? Why? Why can't I have two kids who just play nice, work nice together, behave well when I'm not in the room. Give me peace for 10 minutes a day. Why? Why, Why Why!?

Okay, enough of that. I need to jazz myself up either with a nap (ha!) or some coffee (which means I'll be up all damn night, but I'll get to do my work when I get home from dartland).

So remind me not to make evening appointments on days when I work for catering man. And oh crap, I'm working for him again tomorrow. Meh! I'm going to be a tired little girl.

"You know, every day I get out of bed and drag myself to the next cup of coffee. I take a sip and the caffeine kicks in. I can focus my eyes again. My brain starts to order the day. I'm up, I'm alive. I'm ready to rock. But the time is coming when I wake up and decide that I'm not getting out of bed. Not for coffee, or food or sex. If it comes to me, fine. If it won't, fine. No more expectations. The longer I live, the less I know. I should know more. I should know the coffee's killing me. You're suspicious of your suspicions? I'm jealous, Kay; I'm so jealous. You still have the heart to have doubts. Me? I'm going to lock up a 14 year old kid for what could be the rest of his natural life. I got to do this. This is my job. This is the deal. This is the law. This is my day. I have no doubts or suspicions about it. Heart has nothing to do with it anymore. It's all in the caffeine."

-Frank Pembleton (Andre Braugher)

Monday, April 15, 2002

Taxes. The day is come

Doug just went to the post office to drop off our envelopes filled with our taxes. Seeing as we live in Massachusetts(*), I don't think the post office is open today, so he'll swear like a sailor and perhaps hurl a brickie-mart through the window, and come home angry.

Or, perhaps just because today is tax day, they'll have someone on duty to postmark everything for the taxes. Perhaps, but I think I'd be dreaming.

(*) Living in Massachusetts means today is "Patriot's Day," and every state office is closed. The Boston Marathon also runs today, which means the news for the past week and for the next couple days is all about The BM. Seeing as I'm not interested in it, the TV is off. The news... web based and non-Boston sources. It is a "hack" holiday, as they call it. And one of the things I miss most about not working for the state.

Doug finished our taxes yesterday morning, we ended up owing a lot less than we thought we would have in his initial estimations. Which is good. We had saved aside about $3000, and it turns out we owe less than $2000.


Some cushion in the bank account.

And if unemployment will finally get around to sending me the two checks that I've been waiting for (**) (well, in all fairness, one of them is for the card I mailed in on Friday, so I'll cut them some slack)... we'll have enough to make it through May. I will by then, hopefully, have been paid for two websites, and life will be good, because then we'll have enough to make it all the way through July.

(**) I called unemployment last week just to inquire why I haven't gotten a check yet, and was sent through one of those infuriating voicemail systems that tells you nothing but thinks it has let you know what you need to know. And then it hangs up on you without giving you an option to register further queries. The system told me my "claim is being researched," which is total bullshit because there is NOTHING to research on me. I've now gone without a paycheck for 4 weeks, DET assholes. Send me some unemployment money! I want to be on the dole for a change!!! I tried calling back to get a person, but the only people who answer are the really nice people who initially take your call and get your claim set up. Then, you're screwed. The really nice initial talking people don't take follow up claims questions. They transfer you to the ... soul-devoid auto-liar. So I'm pissed at them right now. Ooooooooo. Barnacles!

After the taxes were done, Doug needed some outdoor activity so he attacked the yard with a vengeance. He's much better at yardwork than I am, and the outdoor area of our home looks much nicer. We have to get plants to start the garden. Today Geoff "planted" squash seeds all over the yard, I'm not even sure where he put them. Some are near the bulkhead to the basement. Some are near where he dug a pirate hole this past winter.

Regardless, I anticipate a ton of summer squash plants to be springing up all over. Geoff loves gardening, so this year we'll have a good garden. It is a task he likes doing, involves dirt and digging, and he likes to see the results when the flowers or veggies grow up. Then, he likes to pick them. Sometimes when I don't want them picked. But we'll see if this summer he understands better about when to pick and not to pick.

Everyone is home for school vacation week, which meant I didn't get to watch any of the crap TV I enjoy watching to make myself feel better about my own life (ie, Jerry Springer...) but I did watch a ton of Nickelodeon and Disney TV. Jessica is wandering around the house, bored out of her mind. I might take her bowling.

Doug got home and reported that the post office was indeed open, which is good, and he went to the butcher shop by the post office and got some grillables... steak tips, boneless pork tenderloins, chicken... and marinades for them. The butcher shop also has "the cheapest beer in town," and they aren't lying. Prices average about two bucks less a 12-pack than where I normally buy beer, so he bought some more for the larder. We're well stocked now. If only our vegetable garden was actually in full production. We'd never have to leave the house again!

There is a HUGE frigging cardinal in our yard this year. Holy cow. He scared the crap out of me this morning. I was looking out the window and he landed on the roof of the bulkhead. Everything was green green green all around and suddenly WHAM! big frigging red as sin bird right in my face.

I guess I'm easily startled.

I just saw him again in the apple tree, with his female... they are picking bugs out of the tree or something. Last year, we had red wing black birds and orioles in the tree. I hope they come back. They were delightful to sit and watch. Geoff has binoculars now, which Grandma Bonnie sent him for Christmas, so he's been walking around out there with them, checking out the wild world of springtime at the Way Out Inn.

Not much else to report really, there's not a lot going on. No good stories to tell. So I'll stop boring you and get back to laundry folding. Ciao.

Friday, April 12, 2002

april school vaction looms ahead

Just got home from working for Catering Man, and I got to revisit the food of my greatest defeat -- the Bacon Scallop. Last time I made them, they came out horribly wrong in every possible way. Bacon too crooked and short to wrap around scallops, scallops that fell apart in my hands. Catering Man would pick them each up and create a masterpiece out of them, showing me how it was done... and I'd make the attempt, but fail. I stank of bacon fat for a week afterwards and the sight of a mere scallop would push me to the brink of tears. And yea, sometimes over it... I admit.

But today, he handed me the ingredients once again. At first, I balked, saying "are you sure you want me to do these? The last time I did them they came out so ghetto. I bet you had to redo them..." He didn't recall.

"I trust you... you can do it. Practice makes better."

Aaahhh... practice makes better. I like that. I like that a lot. So, I pulled my hair back into a long ponytail, put on the apron of courage, and stuck my hands into the soy sauce and sesame marinade and pulled out the first scallop.

The bacon was straight as an arrow this time, par cooked by a different prep person than the last. I rolled, it was perfection. I gained confidence.

Before I knew it, I had something like 200 bacon scallops wrapped and ready for bread crumbs and baking.

And I sampled one before leaving for the day.

I kicked bacon scallop ASS today, I tell you what. I'm proud of me. Practice made better.

The Terminix guys are here kicking termite ass on my property. They are installing the centricon system around the perimeter of the house, and hopefully this will be the greatest investment ever. Kick their blind little albino asses. Motherfuckahs! You come in my house? You come in MY house? I don't think so. Eat red hot Dow Chemical, you little shits!

Alright. Yeah. Word.

I'm in kind of a loopy mood today. A good mood, even though we are financially fucked and I'm not sure how we are going to pay our taxes. But I'm not letting that piss on my veritable parade y'all. I'm good with happy.

School vacation starts for Doug and Jessica today. Doug has to do our taxes (don't say the T word to him. He gets rather upset) and we may or may not play host to Aaron and Michelle during this upcoming week. Or heck, we could go up there. Who knows. We're fly by the seat of your pants kinda kids.

Yesterday I took Jessica to the dentist for her bi-annual cleaning. They told me her 12 year molars are almost all the way down (wha wha whaaaaat!!!) and that she really really needs to see an orthodontist as soon as possible. Mother humper. Another big fucking chunk of money. Her teeth are all crooked as tombstones in an 18th century Revolutionary era boneyard in Boston. Meh! But it has to be taken care of... the first appointment will be a consultation, and she has four loose molars right now, so it's not like they are going to want to put her in braces today. But man. What the heck. Meh! again I say Meh!

There was a little party for Geoff yesterday at his school. I attended... his wish for a special lunch was spaghetti and meatballs.

When Geoff's teacher told the kids that he was leaving on Tuesday, one little girl burst into tears... and the boys that he is friendly with were mad. When I came the next day to drop him off, they grilled me about why was I taking Geoff out of school... how could I do this.

But the real terror of the day wasn't that Geoff was breaking hearts and leaving friends behind. It was his wish for dessert.

Jello snack paks.


Jello snack paks. You heard me! I trembled slightly when I saw them, recalling that horrible day in February when... oh, I can't describe the carnage. Go see for yourself. Anyway, I knew I had to hold it together, you know... for the kids. They wouldn't understand. They all love me, and give me career advice. I, I just had to keep it cool.

Well, I survived... here's the evidence:

That is MY hand stirring the whipped cream into the chocolate pudding.
I overcame my fear. I fear pudding no more.
My days of pudding terror are over. Long live me!

And here are some of Geoff's friends who loved the free lunch, and I'll always remember their career advisement.

A good class of kids, and I wish that Geoff had done better by some of them. He fought a lot, was his usual hard to get along self. But you can see, there were some, like the little boy in the blue stripey shirt, who adored him. And he'll be sorely missed for the rest of this year. Sniff. His teacher is giving him a memory book, and I'm sure it will impact me more than him.

They told me we are welcome to join in on Chapel Wednesdays when the kids do their chapel service. I may do just that for the academic year. It was always Geoff's favorite day and thing to do. So there is nothing stopping us from participating. Unless he doesn't want to go. We shall see.

Alright. Terminix is gone, they installed 20 death machines in my yard, so watch out you little suckers. HA. And I need a nap.