Sunday, October 23, 2011

Lessons learned are like bridges burned...

My son learned a valuable lesson this week.

On Wednesday, his school had an early release day. Normally he takes the bus home, eats lunch, and I take him back (or he rides his bike back) for 2pm football practice. Sometimes, the guys on the team don't go home, they just go and hang out at the gym and the weight room, work out, hang out, and play.

He decided he would stay there, and hang out with his teammates.

The guys all threw their backpacks and jackets against the wall. Geoff took his wallet out of his pants, and put his wallet and pens from his pocket and his glasses under his backpack and jacket, and went to horse around. After the horsing was over, all the guys were sitting waiting, and one of the kids on Geoff's team picked up his wallet and said "Hey Geoff, I'mma gonna steal all the money out of your wallet..." in a joking around fashion. Geoff said the equivalent of "Ha ha, very funny, asshole. Gimme back my wallet" and the kid chucked it to him.

"There's no money in it anyway. Why do you even carry a wallet?"

All that was in there was his social security card and his bus pass.

When he set it down, there was $90 dollars in there.

So he was rather pissed, and reported it to the coach. In Geoff's mind, the only guys there were guys on his team. His coach pointed out that lots of teams, lots of kids, and lots of people who aren't on teams cut through the gym to leave at the end of the day. It could have been anyone. But Geoff is convinced it was someone who knew exactly where to look for his stuff, and that would be one of the 10 guys he was hanging out with.

He's rather devastated by this, as by rights he should be. I pointed out to him that dozens of times in the past I've told him never to carry more than 20 bucks in his wallet. "You don't NEED to have $250 in your wallet. Let's go to the bank and put some of that away." But there he was, not listening again, and someone benefited from his decision to hoard his cash and carry it around with him.

The fact that he believes it is someone he is supposed to know well and trust, a teammate, additionally upsets him. He admits that it could be anyone, but he believes it was one of the guys. I told him that may be so, and sometimes some people make bad decisions. I asked him if he found someone's wallet if he would be tempted to take the money, what would he do.

"I know that at our age, getting money is hard. If there is a lot of money in someone's wallet, that means they worked extra hard all summer long and they earned that money. It isn't mine to take. I wouldn't even LOOK in someone's wallet. I would say "Hey Guy, your wallet is here in the open you should put it somewhere safer." He sighed heavily and said "I have more moral fiber in my hand than my entire team does," he tells me, holding his hand up to demonstrate.

"You have more moral fiber by an ounce than one other person has. And that's all."

I asked him why he didn't put his wallet and glasses INTO his backpack, there are enough compartments and zippers and slots and cubby holes that he could have secured the wallet more. "I just didn't think that I needed to. I mean, I'm among friends. These are my guys."

It's a hard lesson, that even sometimes "your guys" may not be what you think they are, or hope they are. I'm very sad that he has lost a lot of faith in his team mates. It very well could have been someone from outside the team, someone from JV or Varsity, or someone from one of the other teams who was hanging around. I don't want him to lose faith in his guys. I want him to always have that. But right now, that trust is damaged. And it will be for sometime.

He has his suspect in mind. There is one kid, one guy, that isn't one of his guys. They have not gotten along ever. Since fourth grade there have been issues between these two boys. We had to sit down with his parents and both boys on a few occasions in the past to iron out the issues and the last time it came down to "look, you don't have to be best friends, you just have to get along and behave yourselves."

So Geoff thinks it is this kid. He may be right. I've grown to awareness that this kid is kind of a turd. His facebook profile is public, and the stuff he posts is just disgusting. He constantly is talking about his penis, how he's going to NH to "eat pussy all weekend." He posts pictures of severely obese women, naked and licking their own nipples, as his profile shot. He gives me the creeps. A lot of the guys think he's funny, but Geoff thinks he's a troll. And here they are on the same team, in close contact, and periodically they will go at it with one another. I told Geoff to develop a filter, just avoid him, don't engage, don't respond, and stick to the other guys on the team like Will and Josh and Patrick. Just steer clear of him. The coaches know they don't get along, and do their best to drill them apart.

On Friday, his team had an away game down in Winthrop. It was a really tough game, and this kid got drilled at the end of the game, absolutely pummeled, and knocked out. Geoff turned to me and said "well he got his comeuppance." And I told him to shush - just to keep his mouth shut.  Some of the guys got him off the field and helped him walk to the bus. The bus wasn't ready for guys to get on it, so I told them to sit him on this low cement wall until they could get on. I sat on the kid's left side, and this other kid Kevin sat on his right. The kid was obviously concussed. I asked him a series of questions like "Do you know where you are?" and he answered "I play football."

He started to fall backwards, so I put my arm behind him to support him and Kevin leaned him forward a bit. The kid retched a little and threw up a bit. The coaches arrived and we discussed me driving him home, or him riding on the bus. Kevin was rather insistant that the kid ride home with me, safe in the car, with another kid. That would mean Geoff, because if I were to drive this kid home I would take my own kid with me. Kevin volunteered to go. The coach voted it down and said "He'll be fine on the bus." He's a crusty old dude, with a big smile, and has coached a million kids in football over the years.

He leaned over to the kid and smiled "You got your ass kicked on that last play, didn't ya?" The kid nodded. "Come on son, let's get on the bus." He was checking his eyes, and took his pulse and I gave them my sweatshirt so he could have something to lay his head on while riding the bumpy bus.

After we got home, Geoff said to me "Why were you so kind do him? He's my enemy. He treats me like crap and I think he stole from me, and you're being kind to him."

Sometimes, it's said, that you have to treat other people the way you want to be treated. And Jesus says to love your enemies, not just your friends. He was a kid who was hurt and needed some support.

In the long run, I hope I can help restore some of Geoff's faith in others by modeling that kind of behavior when possible. Maybe his faith can come back while he also protects his stuff a bit more carefully. We'll see.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Zombie Walk 2011 Salem MA

(Please Note: If you're here looking for info on the 2012 Zombie Walk which happens on October 6, 2012 please  click here)

This weekend I attended the fourth annual zombie walk in Salem. There were some logistical problems, such as the organizer getting arrested and the permits getting denied. At first it looked like no walk was going to happen, but everyone went and a good time ensued. As usual, the zombie costumes were amazing. My favorite was a couple who were Titanic Non-Survivors.
They were hysterical.  

 And this guy was one of my favorites.
Scary and hot all at the same time...

The zombie march went into downtown Salem around the East India Mall, if you're familiar with the area, and tourists and street vendors alike were loving the zombies!

Well, some of the kids in the crowd were freaked out, but for the most part, video cameras and other cameras and CHEERING came from the crowd. it was super amazing.

All the pictures are in my flickr account if you want to see them. I'm going to bed. I'm feeling like a zombie myself...

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

Singing in Bowling Green

"This is where we walked, this is where we swam. Take our picture here, take a souvenir."

This past weekend, I attended a funeral in Ohio.

My high school choir director passed away in mid September after suffering a stroke in late August. He had been rather unwell for a while, and sometimes these things do not come as a surprise.  His daughter E was very open and shared the goings on with him on our choir alumni Facebook group. It was incredibly generous of her, to share this intensely private family time with the students who loved him, from the late 60s through the 80s and into the 90s. 

We referred to him back then as "Uncle Andy" but E was the only one who held the honor of calling him Dad. 

When he was moved to hospice care, his daughter picked the date for his service, and began planning it. Some people said "He's not dead yet, he could rebound and surprise us." I told my husband this and asked him what he thought. As many of you know, he has a great amount of experience in end of life care. He told me very sweetly "once you are in hospice, there isn't a rebound to look forward to. He can be there a while, or he could pass quickly. E is right to make her plans for her dad at this time. No one can or should question it because it is the right thing to do."

And Doug was right. Uncle Andy passed away, and there was plenty of time for people to make plans, arrangements, and come to sing the gentle teacher home. I told Doug that I wanted to go, and he said "of course you do, and you should."

Now, a couple of months ago, one of my college professors passed away and I did not mourn the way other people did. I was sad for his family and their loss. But other than that, I wasn't so heartbroken that he had passed. It felt like nothing to me. 

This, however, was different. 

"Uncle Andy" was kind of a joke nickname, because he wasn't a loving Uncle figure. He sure could yell at us, he sure could be demanding...  We were mostly being sarcastic when we called him that. He was a taskmaster, was unrelenting at times, and there was sometimes a scariness to his intensity. 

But for as much as I thought he was mean at times, just like my college professor who recently passed, I never for one moment thought that he didn't love me and want the best for me, unlike the college professor. When it came time for "teach to" moments, he delivered them with love instead of self-righteous "I told you so" lecture and unwillingness to be a champion. I don't know if his daughter had the same experiences at home but "Uncle Andy" was inspiring, a great teacher, a tremendous mentor, and several of my friends went on to teach music, or have music careers, thanks to him.

Our high school choir was exceptionally good. Our entire music department was. We were incredibly lucky. 

E told us the songs we would be singing, and I got sheet music from a couple sources and posted them to my personal website so people could download them and start practicing. We all made our arrangements with our families, and about 40 of us I reckon made it to Ohio for the funeral. Some flew in from as far away as Phoenix and Atlanta. 

my friend Eva during the rehearsal
A couple of days before the event another good friend sent me an email with her regrets that she couldn't make it there for a variety of reasons.

I was sharing a hotel with my friend Eva, and told her that if she could make it to somewhere on my route I would drive her and not ask her to pay for a portion of the room costs.

I wanted her to be there, because she should be there.  So she got herself to Eva, and we had a fourth roommate, a girl who graduated the year behind us.

Two sopranos and two altos, just like old times.

I left here at 5:40am and arrived at my friend's house in Connecticut at 9:15. Not bad for rush hour through Hartford and down to New Haven. We were back on the road before 10am and made it all the way to Bowling Green with a lot of laughs and a few stops where we obeyed the bladder and the gas tanks. 

At about 7:40 we were checked into our hotel rooms, and readying up to go to a brief rehearsal at the church. Several people were flying in later and wouldn't get to their hotel rooms until midnight. A second rehearsal was held in the morning, and just about everyone was there.

One of the pieces I honestly NEVER remember singing. My friend Kat told me that we sang it on our England tour in 1983, but I do not have an ounce of recollection over it and neither did my friend Hadley. My sightreading skills are better than I remember, and being with other altos who remembered the song was exceptionally helpful. 

After the rehearsal and before we went up, our conductor, who herself was a music teacher, had done all she could for us to prepare us. She got rid of the "Hawl LAY lou YAs" and got us to remember it is "Allah lu ya" and to not sound like Jersey Shore or Long Islanders. She gave us the pep talk, reminding us that "you can do this, because he taught you to do it." She told us that today, we were all his children. This bothered me a little because we can't claim that... ever.  That relationship only belongs to E. He wasn't Pappa Andy, but Uncle Andy. But... I understood where she was coming from and deeply appreciated the pep talk.

Everyone started crying. It kind of wasn't fair to do this to us right before going up to sing. So not fair. 

You know you're in Bowling Green
when there is a Basketball in the
flower arrangement.
The service was really nice, and there was a guest vocalist, and her husband was the organist and accompanied us on the piano. They were were both incredibly talented and wonderful.

When it was our turn to sing the first of our four songs, I was terrified. It is meant to be done a cappella, and most of us wanted Judy the conductor to accompany us. She told us that we could do it, it would be wonderful, don't worry about it. The piece was the one I linked to in my entry yesterday, Randall Thompson's "Alleluia." 

We crushed it. I was so relieved.

At the end, Eva turned to me and was bawling. "I can't do this, I can't sing the next song. I can't."
I started crying too and told her she'd better stop it. I didn't want to kill her. In church. At a funeral. 

We all got through the second piece, and the third, without tears and with great success. 

Our final song was Handel's "Hallelujah Chorus," which we all knew inside out and upside down. I lost it at the end, and started to cry.

We sounded so good, it was so much fun. And I missed him. I missed Uncle Andy and I didn't get a chance to let him know that I appreciated everything he did for all of us through the years. Especially for me. My love for music is rooted in his choir classroom. And with several of the people standing there in the pews with me, and several people who couldn't make it. 

That night we all went out to dinner and then to a bar, which was loud and stupid, as my last entry explains. Yeah, you like the Yankees. Please be quiet about it. We tried a second bar that was supposed to have Karaoke, but it didn't.

I was back at the hotel room by 11, and the four of us girls holed up in this room all tried to go to bed but we talked and talked for hours about family, problems, life, the kids, the jobs or lack of jobs, our post-high school relationships (they had many, I had three...and I was kind of proud of that even though their stories were just plain hysterical and amazing).  Before I fell asleep I said "I love you guys."

The time was about 3am. Voof. 

In the morning I said "I hate you bitches," as I was packing up all my stuff. 6:30am came way too early. And I still hurt from laughing.

We were on the road before 8am and the plan was to swing a tad south into Pittsburgh and have lunch with Jessica, which we did, and it was wonderful. I miss her so much. Spending 90 minutes with her was such a blessing and my two travel companions were happy to meet here and see a little bit of Pittsburgh. 

I wanted to take them to the top of Mt. Washington to see the view of the city, but it decided to start raining and I opted to skip it and have us hit the road and put some serious miles between us and the whole rest of the weekend. 

I drove to Bellefonte, and Kat took over. She drove to Danbury where her husband met us at 9:30pm. I was home here at the house at 12:30. Exhausted, stiff, still feeling like I was moving. It was a great trip, a great time, and I am so happy to have wonderful friends, and while it was a sad moment in time, it was great to be together and support our friend, our "cousin" as it were, and be there for her. 

There were a lot of laughs, tons of laughs, and I have to do a whole separate entry about the funny stuff. In the meantime, here is a picture of my long distance traveling companion. Being a true pimp. Sitting in the baby high chair at the Fuel & Fuddle in Pittsburgh.

Monday, October 03, 2011

Ode to the Yankee Fan in the Bar

Okay, we get it. You like the Yankees a lot.

You have a team jersey on, I think it is A-Rod's number on the back. The Yankees are too cool to put names on their jerseys, so I'm just guessing at this point. You have your hat on backwards, and you're drinking that beer. You jump up and scream WOOOOOOOOOOOOO at the top of your lungs when good stuff goes down on that big screen TV behind the bar. "YEAH SUCK IT BITCHES!" is your response when your team does something great on the field.

Thing is, you're the only one in this Ohio bar who is cheering for this team or any team. There are three people watching the other screen where the Ohio State football game is going on. There are 10 of us trying to have a discussion over here. And you're jumping around like your ass is on fire and your hair is catching.

Socially, some people would recognize that they are alone in this behavior and kind of stop maybe? Yeah.

Bowling Green Ohio

Is very, very very.... very far away from my house. I put over 1700 miles on my car since Friday. Every inch was worth the trip.

Seeing as it is 1am and I just got home, I will write about it later.

In the meantime, watch this video. It is Randall Thompson's Alleluia, and I'll tell you why you watched it when I write another entry later today.