Monthly Archives: July 2008

Question for God

I know You know the answer but why?

For the umpteenth time in my life, I’ve come to realize, yet again, that things happen for a reason and in God’s time, we’ll understand why.

When I lost my job in November, I was devastated. Who wouldn’t want me as an employee? I’m smart and funny and I care about what I do. The fact that my life at work was a living hell had little to do with the fact that I needed the salary. I endured the criticism and bullshit at that place with the help and support of some wonderful folks. I call them friends now.

My girlfriend, Mary Anne, allowed me to accompany her to her chemotherapy treatments at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania. It was an honor and a privilege to spend time with her and experience her deep faith.

I spent a lot of time with my youngest brother and his wife and kids, I did a lot of babysitting/playing and it was very healing for me to be loved unconditionally after I had been so beaten up and battered at work (mentally).

When money got tight, my friend and former co-worker (who made his escape on his terms 6 months before my catastrophe) hired me to work with him at an exorbitant hourly rate and I’m still using money from those three months to pay bills. I also lived down the shore during this time, a treat even in winter and early spring!

I started to exercise and eat healthier. To date, I have ridden over 300 miles and lost 12 pounds. My goal is another 12 – 15 pounds by the end of September. Oh and another 450 miles!

Do you understand where I’m going? Do you realize, as I did last night, that God’s ways are not our ways and that gifts come in strange packages?

I spent a couple of hours with my girlfriend today. She is prepared for her death. There is a DVD of her life that she worked on with her brother. Her funeral service is planned, right down to the songs and readings. She and her family put together collages of pictures of friends and family. On Sunday, when I saw her she said “You’ve got to tell me how it went with your mom because I want to know what to expect.” I told her as matter-of-factly as I could how the end came for my mom. She also mentioned that she had letters she wanted to write to her son and daughter. She had a friend who wanted to do that before she died, but she never got the chance.

I spent the afternoon reading letters to her – letters that she had written two months ago to her mother- and father-in-law, three sisters, two brothers, mom and dad, son, daughter and husband. We made some additions and amendments. Then I printed them and she addressed envelopes and I stuffed and sealed them for her.

I pray that I have the grace to live as she is dying.




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Neil Young, CSN, James Taylor and Joni Mitchell

Tonight we were gathered around the dining room table. We were working on a joyful task. There was music on as always – some of it familiar, some of it not so. We were laughing and singing.

I heard the beginning of a song and recognized it as “A Man Needs a Maid” from Harvest by Neil Young. It reminded me of my freshman and sophomore year in college. There were four albums always on the turntable: Neil Young Harvest, CSN, James Taylor Sweet Baby James, and Joni Mitchell Blue. My roommate and I always agreed on those four. Oh, we listened to other stuff but they were consistently played.


When I listened to that song tonight, it reminded me that my former roommate, and dear friend, won’t be around to listen to those albums soon. I talked to her today and her doctors advised calling in hospice.

She’s been fighting ovarian cancer for nearly three years. The cancer is winning now. There’s nothing to say. Not one thing.

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Family + Friends = Fun

My niece graduated from high school last month. We celebrated the occasion last night with a gathering of family and friends at the R-ton Porch Club. You just know that whenever you combine balloons and karaoke, hilarity will ensue. So without further ado, let’s jump into the balloons as my youngest niece did when the balloon she sat on unexpectedly popped.

The shenanigans really didn’t get started until after the food was served. Up to that point, people greeted and mingled and listened to the graduate’s play list from her I-POD. There was also a balloon-popping contest, possibly inspired by my niece’s earlier antics. Her older cousin, my niece as well, won this contest and it had a heckagood prize!

There were some truly wonderful moments but mostly hilariously funny moments once the karaoke began. rather than embed all the video you can click for the video goodness.

My brothers joining my dad on stage as he sang “Just a Gigolo”. The David Lee Roth version had him a little confused. He’s way better at the Louis Prima version!

My nieces singing together and with their aunts, friends and cousins.

My nephew, brothers and brother-n-law singing an old family favorite

Denise doing a version of Anita Baker’s Sweet Love, the likes of which you can’t even imagine.

Neal, Livin la Vida LOCO.

And then all of the ladies, and some of the guys doing We Are Family.

For you added enjoyment, the pictures are here.


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Ready For Another Rant? (with apologies to my future nephew-in-law)

I’ve been riding now for over a month and, by my calculations, have only missed two days. It’s pretty cool to be getting physical exercise on a regular basis. It helps me feel good all over. And lately I’ve also been going to church in the morning, which should add to the overall feeling goodness.
I say “should” because, in reality, I am often frustrated by our morning worship. Oh it’s great to receive Eucharist – in fact, it’s awesome. But the whole process of our daily worship is just annoying to me. I have blogged about this previously but it was mostly about our Saturday night situation.
So here I am, doing everything I can to feel better physically, mentally and spiritually and the end result is a new intimacy with roadkill and the desire to not become it.
Let me tell you what it’s like, just let me tell you! When I ride, I like to go out early – say 5:30 – 6:00 am because there aren’t too many vehicles on the road at that time. I never use an IPOD or any other music-playing device. I usually wear my helmet. I’m always listening for vehicles. I also keep my eyes on the road so I can avoid unlucky critters, branches and broken glass.
Sometimes I get a late start and then I’m at the mercy of the mother of all vehicles – the landscape truck with trailer. Yup, these crazy landscapers have to park on the shoulder of the road so the homeowner can get in and out of their driveway. And it’s usually on one of the many inclines. And always with traffic coming from behind.  So that means the car coming from behind has to slow down or wait until my fat ass oasses the landscaper’s truck and trailer –  remember, I don’t go so fast. Today I tackled two of those trucks… AND a garbage truck.

And trust me, garbage trucks are worse because they STINK. And, as I said, I don’t ride real fast and garbage trucks leave a waft of stank in front of you as they pull away.
And then – ok, I know I shouldn’t complain about church. I mean I am so blessed to be able to get to Mass every morning. Some parishes don’t have priests to celebrate. Some parishes aren’t even themselves anymore, what with all the merging and so on – I’m really sorry but I just have to say it. Why does that woman pick whose God-awful 300-year old songs? Why? I think God thinks they’re awful too. On Thursday, I didn’t sing in protest of the awfulness. I just stood there with my teeth clenched. On Friday, she wasn’t there and the alternate songpicker picked way better songs – songs that are only 30 years old. I sang those.

When will the anger end?

Oh and it’s 7/11 – go buy a Slurpee!   

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Oh, Those Geritol Days!

I get those calls every once in a while.  You know, the ones where you think it’s a solicitor so you’re all prepared to say, “Don’t you know I’m on the National Do Not Call List? Don’t annoy me anymore. K? Bye.”

Then it turns out to be the American Red Cross looking for a blood donation. So with a screeching halt, the rant becomes a sweet, “Sure. I can come in Sunday at 1:00.”

So I drive myself over to the blood donation center across from a local hospital on the appointed day at the appointed time. I read their pages of disclaimers and legalese, acknowledge that I understand and sign the waiting list. Just as I dive into a good book, the intake coordinator asks me to follow her. I usually tell them to just do the iron test before I waste their time, but today I didn’t. I was feeling strong.

I’ve been riding almost 8 miles every day, steadily improving my average speed. L’Alpe d’Huez has been conquered pretty regularly. I’m eating healthier than I have in months and I’m taking vitamins. I haven’t eaten red meat much, but I eat a lot of spinach and that’s got heaps of iron.

So we go through the routine – name, address, social, temperature, ok finger prick time. I held out my left hand and just as she was about to stick me, I must have unconsciously pulled my hand back a little. “Oh no you di-n’t just pull your hand back!” she laughed. I lost it. Laughed so hard, I apparently laughed the iron right out of my poor tired blood! She proceeded to stick me and this time I behaved but my iron was too low to donate. She even called an RN over who had me rub my hands together and then pulled the blood out of my right hand. No go – one point too low is too low to donate but still normal so I’m not anemic.

It just seems like every other time I donate, I go through this. Maybe I need more time for my blood to regenerate. Maybe 60 days isn’t long enough and I need 70 days or something. Who knows? It’s just that every time it happens I feel like driving right to Rite-Aid and buying me some Geritol.

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