Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Meet Recap / Lessons Learned

The blog is going to be focused a little differently today.  Up until now, it has been all about sharing my daughter.  I'm going to continue using it as a forum to share her, but I'm also going to start working in one of my other loves – the sport of powerlifting.  Last Saturday, I lifted in a meet held at CrossFit Retribution, an awesome gym in Westminster, Maryland, owned by an awesome dude named Beau.  To be sure, Ruby was on my mind all day.  I wore ruby-colored shoes (no pig tails, cutesy dress, basket, or little dog though) and a t-shirt with her picture on it, listened to music that reminded me of her, and looked at pictures of her on my phone for a little extra motivation before attempts.  Just being there was my first lesson learned:  you really can endure loss and continue doing things you love and that were important to you before the loss.  Anyway, let’s get on with the meet report.  If you’re really only reading the blog to read about Roo and don’t give a rat’s ass about some meat head sport, just jump to the end.  That little peanut makes an appearance before I close. 

I hit some good training lifts in September but then the injury bug (back, per usual) and work demands conspired to mess up my preparation in October.  To salvage the meet and at least make some progress I decided to focus on my bench, which wouldn’t aggravate the back, and try to get 400 at 220.  The week prior to the meet I made a pretty decent 385 in training that I thought showed I had some left.   

I followed the 385 with some board work I’ve been including for my lockout.  Board work simply involves benching while lowering the bar to boards of varying heights resting on your chest.  This shortens the range of motion by the height of the boards used and allows you to overload the lift a little.  I might not have been born with a barrel chest, but I can get one temporarily by throwing a board under my shirt!  During my first, and only, set of board pressing, I felt a twinge in my right pec.  A twinge during board work is unusual, since the first few inches of the lift that boards eliminate should be the most vulnerable part of the lift for pectoral injuries.  Ah, this brings me to my second lesson learned:  things aren’t always as they seem and sometimes a logical explanation eludes, despite our human desires for one.  I’m sure you guessed I’m not just talking about weight training with this observation.  Why did she have to go when so many needed her here?  That one is too big for me to answer, so I don’t even try.

Back to the meet… during the week leading up, the dodgy pec seemed fine but was a concern in the back of my mind.  I definitely didn’t want to stress an injury and cause a blowout.  I don't know if I subconsciously shifted a little more weight to the left side to compensate or what, but I felt a distinct cramping/pulling on my attempt with 400 and quickly stopped driving the bar a few inches off my chest.  At 44 a torn pec might be a tough injury to recover from, and I consider myself lucky to have had time to recognize something wasn’t right and stop the lift before doing any damage. 

With little deadlifting the entire month of October, I certainly wasn’t expecting much but decided to at least warm up, maybe take an opener, and then make a decision about whether to keep raising the weight.  After Beau’s equally awesome wife, Angie, performed her magic on me with some deep tissue work and a few stretches, warm-ups went pretty well.  I opened with 550 and it felt reasonably fast, though my left low back still did not feel perfect as I walked off the platform.  Ah, par for the course; seems like I always feel a little tweaky.  I put in 600 for my second, figuring I’d just bail if anything felt weird.  It seemed like this was the emerging theme of the day.  And then… Boom!  Solid lift with good explosion, and low and behold I felt fine walking away.  Shoot, I felt spry as a rutting buck.  You better bone up on your Outlaw Josey Wales references if you don’t recognize that one.  Weird… my back is completely random and unpredictable.  What was lesson number two, again?  Ah, right, it’s the one about life not always revealing logical explanations.  Well, guess what?  The best thing about that one is that it holds true not just for bad occurrences, but for serendipity as well.  As Charlie Sheen would say, “Winning!”  My feeling about the lift was confirmed when I mouthed 630 to Marty across the room and he shook his head up and down enthusiastically.  I think the video and photos speak for themselves.  My lifetime PR 630 was solid with no form breaks.  It was a little slow, especially at lockout, but I think I had some left.  Judge for yourselves:


I Know; The Ruby Red Shoes Rock

Sure, I want to bring my bench up some.  I think 400 is well within reach at 220 and might have even been there on Saturday without the twinge.  But anyone who knows me knows I’ll take a squat or deadlift PR over a bench PR any day.  I’ve pulled triple bodyweight as a 198 and am inching closer at 220.  I think 660 will fall soon.  When I squat 630 or so, a 660 pull will be a foregone conclusion.

For those still reading, I’ve dropped a couple of crumbs, but you’re probably waiting for the big lesson learned.  Ah hell, I don’t know.  Listen to your body but don’t listen too hard???  That sounds ridiculous, but it really is kind of what I do.  It’s a powerlifting meet.  You’re not playing the clarinet, though I do wish I had a speck of musical talent.  You’re lifting really heavy stuff, and that means you’re going to be asking your body to do something it doesn’t really want to do.  Also, there’s a difference between pushing on a weight (squat/bench) and pulling on it (deadlift).  If the weight is on top of you, it’s difficult to bail.  So if something doesn’t feel right beforehand, I say don’t even attempt a lift.  And if something feels weird in the middle of a lift, like with my bench on Saturday, make sure you have good spotters ready to take the weight in an instant.  With the deadlift, at least you can bail on your own without relying on spotters by just opening your hands and letting the bar drop.  I’m not real reckless at 44; certainly not like I was at 24.  I can’t afford to be.  If anything had felt weird at any point on that PR attempt, I’d have just opened my hands and said, “No mas.”  I love lifting heavy, and I want to be able to do it for many more years if possible.  Let’s see if I can restate that ridiculousness above about listening but not too hard.  My third lesson learned:  you know your own body best, and there’s no shame in tapping and living to fight another day if something feels “off” – just try not to act like a wussy.

After the meet, there was a letdown.  I lifted well and earned an unexpected gift in the form of that deadlift PR.  I thought about my angel and how I felt her presence there with me helping me through the day.  I didn’t feel her as strongly afterwards, as if she had flown back to heaven where she belongs.  Of course I was greedy and wanted her here with me.  But I have someone new here; a woman.  I realize this knowledge might divide my meager audience.  I could end up with too few readers to even field a team for a 3-on-3 basketball tournament.  Anybody ever play 21?  Tim Randolph… I’m talking to you… surely you’re still here.

Grieving man moves forward with his life – some may see this as selfish.  Others will see it as healthy and be happy for me.  At times, we all live our lives worrying about what others think.  Losing Roo made me care less about what anyone thinks.  It’s not that I don’t want friends.  I want lots of them.  I need them.  I just want the ones who accept me for me.  I’m not saying my friends need to rubber stamp every assholish (ugh, grammar checker, please quit underlining “assholish;” it’s obviously a word!) thing I do and tell me how great I am when I’m really being a jerk.  They just can’t disown me over choices I make.  Well, I suppose they could disown me over some choices, like you know, murder and stuff.  But are you really going to abandon a friend over life choices or even give them some holier than thou attitude?  I've quoted the NFL Game Day crew before, but I must yet again.  “C’mon man!”  Look in the mirror.  I’m sure we’ve all done some stuff others don’t understand.  But in the end, don’t most of us try to do what we think is best for ourselves and those we love?  I got a divorce.  I had my reasons, and I explained them to everyone who needed to know the details.  Everyone else will just have to trust me or not. 

Here’s something I wrote on a really bad day a few months ago but didn’t publish.  I couldn’t imagine anyone would want to read it, yet it was the truth at the time I wrote it.  I don’t want to go back to this place, but I might.  We all might.  Hopefully, none of us stays there for too long.

I need to write more of these blogs, but I'm having a hard time sitting down to do it.  Nothing really helps.  I can't stop crying and I just want to be with her.  Even though she was about to turn six, she was just a little baby still.  Mary had gotten her an Elmo potty training video, but she had no interest in watching it.  Mary tried a few times to put it in the video player and Roo would just get mad and say, "Beach!  Beach!"  She wanted to watch her little beach video and see Elmo run around in his swimming trunks building castles and splashing in the water.  I had a beach painting on my wall.  It was actually pretty ugly, but I knew she'd love it when I picked it up for a couple dollars at a yard sale.  She used to climb up on the couch and mess with it and say, "Beach!  Beach!"  Maybe she knew she wouldn't be here long and that potty training didn't matter.  I want to go be with her.  I don't want to be here anymore.  I pray every night maybe that can happen soon.  I wish others wanted that for me too.

I don’t feel this way anymore.  I started trying to pull myself out of my funk on my own.  I had some minor victories, but it was hard and I slipped back a lot.  I needed some help.  And then I met a girl and asked her out.  She’s wonderful.  I was fighting to be hopeful about an uncertain future before she came along, but her presence has certainly opened my eyes to many beautiful things life still has to offer.

I'll share a few more lessons learned through lifting and living.  Humans are complex.  We can be sad and happy for different reasons at the same time.  Things aren’t always black and white.  Learning when to push through and when to pull back is difficult but important.  Life gives and life takes away.  Hope and love are at the heart of human existence.  Moving forward is scary but Winter Warlock knows you just have to “Put one foot in front of the other and soon you'll be walking 'cross the floor.”  Something else scary:  Halloween will never be the same, but I still enjoy passing out candy to children.

Banana and Ape

Mary Lou and Bela Karolyi

Little Red Riding Hood and Big Bad Wolf

Elmo's Best Buddy is a Goldfish... Not Happening.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Putting Out Fires

That title is not some creative metaphor for how life is about overcoming obstacles.  It's about an actual fire.  Ok, maybe just smoke and not a raging inferno, but stories are always better when you exaggerate a little.  An author who shall go unnamed - but since he's the only author I know you can probably guess - calls it "creative license."  Hint... hint... he looks like the Dos Equis beer commercial guy.
Anyway, so I woke up early this morning ahead of the alarm.  This is highly unusual for me, as I am not exactly an early riser, and was perhaps a sign I didn't see that more unusual events were in store.  I do enjoy waking up early on occasion though and having that first cup of coffee or two or three before the sun comes up.  So that's what I did.  And you can imagine what happened.  I went from calm, peaceful guy watching the sun come up on the front porch to supercharged wild man all hopped up on the bean running around with too many thoughts to even process.  This was perhaps the beginning of my problem.
One thought that sort of gelled was that since it was so early I had time to make a huge breakfast of steak and eggs.  I think of myself as some steak master, and the routine is to salt a rib eye heavily, sear a nice crust in a frying pan, and then stick it in an iron skillet in a 350° oven for just a couple minutes.  They come out perfectly every time - warm through and pink in the middle with that delicious crust.  But the damn oven takes like 10 minutes to preheat, and I had finished all the coffee.  This meant I'd just be sitting there twiddling my hyperactive thumbs while waiting on the stupid orange light to go out.  That scenario was intolerable for coffee crack head man.
The solution... flip the oven on and jump in the shower.  YES!  BRILLIANT!  By the time I hopped out, it would be time to sear that steak and throw it in the hot oven.  So that's what I did.  At least it's what I thought I did.  I was in there happily lathering up - it may as well have been an Irish Spring commercial - when my bliss was interrupted by this shrill beeping.  I knew what it was immediately, because I've done it numerous times before, though never while showering... the damn smoke alarm in the kitchen.  The difference this time was that it was like 6:00 a.m., not 4:00 in the afternoon.
So out I scrambled; water and soap flying everywhere.  I ran in the kitchen and immediately discovered the problem.  In my haste, I had flipped the switch for one of the stove burners instead of the oven.  Rather than storing my favorite pan like a normal human, I just leave it sitting on that burner, ready for whipping up something yummy at a moment's notice.  Why reach in a cabinet to get something out when you can just leave it out all the time?  Why wash your car when it's going to just get dirty again?  Why mow the grass or get a haircut when... ah, never mind, this is sort of a ludicrous train of thought.  But I think leaving a pan out is acceptable, except when you can't work your oven and end up ruining the pan by melting the Teflon into a gooey, smoking paste that's mistaken by your imperceptive smoke detector for a five-alarm fire.
You know the definition of multi-tasking?  Doing more than one thing at a time - in my case cooking and showering - badly.  I've never met a good multi-tasker, but I've met plenty of people who could bungle a conversation with me while trying to drive to the market.  They give nonsensical answers to questions.  They sometimes don't even answer the question that was asked.  Hell, maybe they're texting too and really got confused.  I've even been called the wrong name.  Way to engage, "friend."  I'm glad this moment we're sharing means so much to you.  Good lord.  And I guarantee they sucked at the driving too.  While else would I hear honking in the background and the occasional "Oh, shit."?  That's certainly not defensive driving.
Enough of that rant and back to this rant.  After flipping the burner off and throwing the smoking pan in some water, I jumped up on a chair and started frantically waving a towel at the alarm.  This always worked in the past, but of course it wouldn't work when the entire neighborhood is asleep and I really need  a break. Nope.  Nothing.  Thirty seconds of naked arm flapping seemed like three hours.  And of course the walls are paper thin, so I could hear the neighbor and his girlfriend rustling around.  Shit!  He even muttered something under his breath about the incompetent idiot below.  Think fast, Chuck!  Think fast!
BAM!  In my panic, I accidentally got too close with my towel waving and knocked the whole damn alarm off the wall.  It flew one direction and the battery another.  Oh well.  Problem solved.  Lacking much of a filter on what I say, I jumped down from my precarious perch on the chair and blurted out, "No worries.  Go back to bed.  Everything is under control now.  I'm a fireman!"
Jeesh.  Forget this shower, I thought.  I'm clean enough, and I'm certainly dry after all that jumping around.  Time to cook that steak.  Ah, there's the little oven dial I meant to hit.  At least I'd be able to get dressed while waiting for the dumb thing to preheat.  I mean, showering is one thing, but I could get dressed right there in the kitchen where I could multi-task efficiently and keep an eye on everything.  Right?  Well that's what I thought.
So there I am with one shoe on and one in my hand, hopping up and down and trying to slip it on the other foot, when the damn alarm in the far room starts going off.  WHAT THE HELL!  I'm standing right there looking around the kitchen and there's no freaking problem!  Off I run through the house to determine the source of this latest annoyance.
Entering the living room, the issue is immediately apparent.  A cloud of smoke has floated over from the kitchen and is hovering above my head like an early morning fog enveloping the entire room.  I'm not even fooling around this time.  There isn't going to be any waving this oppressive haze out of the way.  It's everywhere.  Hell, I'll be lucky if it doesn't choke me out and finish me right here.  Not really, but again, the story is better with a little element of danger thrown in for effect.
I'm hurriedly dragging a chair over to stand on while I remove the battery when I hear it.  The recluse upstairs has never once spoken to me, preferring to gripe about me to his girlfriend as if I can't hear his every word, but he's picked now to man up and come out of his shell.
"You are the worst fucking fireman EVER!" he screams in disgust.
I had to laugh.  It really was funny.  It was also true.  But I didn't care.  I knew the best fireman EVER!


Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Show Daddy Your Muscles

I permanently pinned today's blog as a page at the top called "Show Daddy Your Muscles."  You should be able to click and read.

Happy Birthday (2 days early), Ruby!

Love, Daddy.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Living in the Moment

Two weeks in and I'm already slacking on the blogging.  I suppose there's a good reason my friend and longtime powerlifting coach, Marty Gallagher, nicknamed me the "Master of Rest and Recovery."  I do like balance in life.  For every hour worked, I recommend three or four hours of rest.  Work is hard.  If it's physical work, you sweat and it's just plain tiring.  If it's mental work, like this confounded blog, you get stressed out and you might even get a headache.  Neither of these outcomes are desirable.  I certainly don't desire them.  That's why I recommend the three or four to one rest to work ratio.  Work is at least three times as hard as rest, so it evens out.

I really am working hard on some fantastic new blog entries.  I have one on politics and another on the sad state of literacy in this country, or something like that.  Heady stuff; the sort of stuff that requires a little writing and a whole lot of recharging.  Shoot, you wouldn't want quality to suffer because I rushed one of these monumental offerings to completion before it was ready, would you?  I didn't think so.

For today, I have a simple message by comparison.  I won't be solving big world problems.  I'll be doing something even more important to me.  I'll be sharing some great photos of beautiful Ruby.  A couple of the best ones are a little blurry because she was jumping around ecstatically.  Here they are:

I know what you're thinking.  That's one of my most annoying habits, by the way.  I often presume to know what others are thinking.  But this time I'm right.  You're thinking a kid that happy must be standing there looking up in awe at the pony she just got!  She's flapping her arms with joy because we fed Trigger a handful of oats and are getting ready to saddle him up for her first ride!

Nope.  We're at the mall.  You know, that place where you usually find a bunch of teenagers scuffing around with their pants hanging half off their asses while a few poor souls try to eek out their livings selling them slurpees and soft pretzels.  Before Ru, except for sneaking in the side entrance to go to the movies I usually visited the mall once a year, about a week before Christmas.  I'd stay for an hour and shop for all three people on my list. 

That all changed with Ru.  Ru loved the mall.  She loved throwing pennies in the fountain, especially when I would animate them with a high pitched voice and make them beg her not to drown them.  "Oh no, wait!" I would shriek in my girliest tone, "I don't know how to swim!"  Yeah right.  Ru wasn't negotiating with some silly penny.  In they went, one after the other, as she hurled them to their watery grave giggling all the while.

She loved eating green beans and mac 'n cheese at the BBQ joint.  She loved going up and down the escalator in JC Penney and riding the little merry go 'round for a dollar.  I had her fooled on the quarter-a-ride cars.  Frugal miser that I am, I'd just stand there and shake the car while she grinned and bounced.  When I got tired and stopped for a second, she'd take my hand and move it back and forth; her way of letting me know I needed to get back to work.  I figure I saved myself two or three bucks every visit to the mall by doing that, though I did look around anxiously from time to time to make sure one of those poor eight dollar an hour mall cops wasn't on his way over to reprimand me.  Ru had an elaborate mall routine, and you darned well better do everything on the list before you left!

Anyway, these photos were taken shortly before Christmas.  American Eagle had a disco ball out in the front of the store, presumably to capture the attention of the girlfriends of the aforementioned big pants wearing boys and entice them to spend sixty dollars on a t-shirt two sizes too small for a kewpie doll.  I always thought that was odd.  The boys wear their clothes two sizes too big and the girls wear theirs two sizes too small.  I suppose I'd really have something to complain about if the situation was reversed.

Back to Ru.  She saw that disco ball from a hundred yards away and began sprinting toward it.  She had found something worthy of interrupting her beloved mall routine for and was on a mission!  When she got there, she stared at that thing from all sides, mesmerized.  Then she began jumping and dancing, and she didn't stop for an hour.  I tried to get her to stop.  I really did.  I bribed her with promises of ice cream.  I vowed to come back soon.  At one point, I even carried her out.  When she was no longer protesting and I was sure we were far enough away that her mind had wandered to some new curiosity, I put her down.  The second her little feet touched the floor she whirled and ran back to the disco ball.  But it wasn't a pony that caused all this excitement by any means.  It was just this silly disco ball that reflected light and shadows on the floor and walls.  To Ru it must have been some kind of magical kaleidoscope straight out of Alice in Wonderland.

I was looking for a way to wrap this post up when my friend, Mike, called.  To this point, its been rather lighthearted and I was thinking of ending with some little life lesson related to the post's title.  I was going to make some observation about how Ru, and all children, are so good at living in the moment.  If a disco ball catches their eye, they'll spend an hour dancing around it.  Bath, schmath.  Bedtime, schmedtime.  Grownups and their rules and schedules are so silly!  Kids know what's important.  Spending time with people you love is important.  Dancing and playing are important.  Seeing things for the first time, or at least like you're seeing them for the first time, is most definitely important.  That seemed like a good way to end.

And then the phone rang.  Mike started by saying, "Do you remember my friend who visited the hospital the same day as you after my surgery a couple months ago?"  I knew the friend and I knew immediately this wasn't going to be good.  He had been sick recently, though I didn't know exactly how sick.  As it turns out, this hulking man who seemed larger than life and could have been mistaken for an NFL tight end was very sick and died a few days ago.  He was in his early forties and left behind a wife and two young children.  It was shocking to hear.  Even after digesting for a bit, it's shocking to write.

Selfishly, I don't really need any more shock right now.  And really, neither does Mike.  He has been through hell with Ruby's death too.  But this isn't about my loss.  It's about this man and his family and the crushing blow of losing a husband, a son, a father, and a brother.  He was way too young to  die.  We all know the cliche explanations that never make this sort of thing any easier.

The best thing I can come up with, I suppose, is that kids really do have it right.  Granted, we all have to go to work to pay our bills, and we have certain obligations that must be met.  But if I could capture one thing I've lost it would be time.  I just want more time with Ruby.  If I knew she'd be gone today, I wouldn't have tried to rush her out of the mall a minute before she was ready.  I'd have stood right there with her and danced.  Ok, I admit I did dance a little because I knew it would make her laugh, but I'd have danced more. 

We returned to the mall a couple weeks later.  Ru remembered that disco ball just like she remembered everything and ran straight for it.  It was gone, put away with the rest of the Christmas promotions.  Undeterred, that little peanut ran to the back of the store and into the employee only area looking for it as I chased her down.  She never found it, and now she's gone too.

I'll end with a quote from one of my favorite coaches, Marv Levy, that never fails to give me chills.  As his players were about to step on the field for their first Super Bowl he said simply, "Where else would you rather be than right here, right now?"  When you're playing in the Super Bowl, I suppose it's easy to live in the moment.  Though I may have forgotten from time to time when I was changing diapers or wiping up spills, my every day Super Bowl was the time I spent with my daughter.

Maybe Mike's friend will bump into Ru in heaven.  She always liked big guys.  Maybe they'll drop all the important stuff angels do for a few minutes and dance around a disco ball.  I hope they do. 

Thursday, June 27, 2013

More Bad Ideas

Disclaimer:  this one is a little graphic.  I don’t mean to offend any of my three loyal readers, but I don’t want to censor myself either.  Please read at your own discretion and, in the spirit of the great tradition of vacation bible schools that are getting underway in big and small towns across the country, try not to judge me.
My post yesterday about bad ideas a few morons thought were good has me obsessing on the topic just a bit.  I’ll move on to something else shortly, but first I have one more to share.  There’s a peculiar urban legend floating around about a former WVU football player, high on PCP, who lopped off his own penis with a knife and threw it in the bushes while running from the police through the streets of Morgantown one night back in the mid-1990s.  Maybe the Angel Dust (see, I really am cool… I know drug slang) caused a terrible hallucination where he thought it was a snake attacking him.  Maybe he was well endowed and it was slowing him down.  I’m not really sure why he did this.  Sometime after ridding himself of the offending appendage, he apparently dove in the Monongahela River and swam off.  The police found him and his penis hours later and presumably miles apart, and the story has a happy ending.  Some highly skilled surgeon was actually able to reattach it and restore function.  Has anyone else heard this story or did I make it up in my crazy head?  Regardless, swimming in the Mon is just about the worst idea I’ve ever heard.  Cutting your own penis off isn’t real smart either.
Climbing the kitchen counter to get your own ice cream is another bad idea.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Good Idea!

VP of Human Resources:  Whaddaya say we tap a keg in the break room to improve employee morale?  It’ll keep everybody feeling loose and happy; might even encourage a few staff love connections.

CEO:  Good idea!  Imagine how much more productive we’ll be with all the positive vibes from a light buzz.  And vending machine sales are guaranteed to sky rocket.

Ruby despised stuffed animals.  I happen to like them, so I diligently searched for one she might embrace.  In my quest, I went through monkeys, bears, frogs, elephants, hippos, ground hogs… yep, I just wrote ground hog.  Don’t believe me?  Here he is:
I thought this guy was fan-f’ing-tastic.  Not Ru.  He repulsed her.  They all did, and she dealt with them all in the same callous manner.  If you approached Ru with the intention of handing her a stuffed animal, she would march toward you, arm outstretched, palm up, in a nonthreatening yet purposeful manner.  Ru did very little without purpose; the only trick could sometimes be discerning her purpose.  Notice the purposeful walk here:

Three seconds after this picture was taken, she hurled that golf club into the water.  Back to the stuffed animals… as you placed the stuffed animal in her hand she would immediately flip it back over her head and continue past you without looking back.  The first time time she did this I was rolling on the floor.  I instantly became more popular than a box of donuts at a Weight Watchers meeting.  Ru, you see, was a ham.  When she realized I, or anyone else, found her antics amusing, she would triple her ridiculousness.  Thus, she became expert in the art of stuffed animal launching, regularly arcing the poor critters five feet up and ten feet back, adding a little head bob and high knee kick for emphasis. 

This poor fellow is only about three inches tall – just the right size to fit tidily in her little hand.  I was certain he would be the perfect companion for her.  Nope, but he was perfect for setting new distance records.  Maybe that’s why he’s frowning.
You may be wondering why she harbored such hatred toward stuffed animals.  It was the fur, Silly.  She didn’t like the stuff one darned bit, and really, who would other than some thumb sucking weenie in need of soothing?  It is a little creepy.

Her best friend was a guy named Elmo Live!  The exclamation point isn’t there because I’m excited about this slightly obnoxious creature that talked and sang.  It’s part of his name; a marketing gimmick the purpose of which eludes me.  EL! went on walks, rolled in the dirt, ate supper, and even went to school.

“Wait a minute!” I can hear you saying.  “That’s a stuffed animal as sure as I’m a homo sapien.”  Well you’re right, Clouseau; it sort of is.  But surely you can see those enormous eyes peering out of her book bag.  They’re at least as big as ping pong balls and are just about the perfect size for a child, or maybe Tim Randolph, to palm.  I have a lot of photos lying around, but even I don’t have one of the 12TH RANKED BRIDGEPORT INDIAN OF ALL TIME’S miniscule hands.  Tim, are you reading?  Be a pal and send me a photo.  I’ll make ya famous.  Anyway, if you carry Elmo around by his eyes, you can completely avoid touching his fur.  I know this because it’s exactly what Ru did for four years.
I bet you think I forgot all about the wonderful idea of “light drinking” at work that’s been in the news recently and that I started this post by mentioning.  I didn’t.  It just takes me longer, a lot longer, than most to get to the point.  Thanks for reading.  You’re swell people.  So here it is.  If I’m the CEO and some knucklehead brings me this ludicrous idea, you know what I’m doing?  I’m treating it just like Ru treated stuffed animals.  It’s getting flipped back over my head in one motion, never entertained even for a nanosecond.  And the dummy who suggested it… here’s how I’d deal with him:

C’mon, man.  I like to have fun as much as the next guy, maybe moreso, but how in the world is serving alcohol in the workplace a good idea?

Great hair… check.  Snappy dresser… check again.
Sound judgment… not so much.

Maybe Robert Kraft served alcohol in the locker room.
That would explain the Giants beating the Patriots in the Super Bowl... twice!

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Last Times

I had a chat conversation yesterday with my friend, Paul Carter.  Paul is one heck of an insightful guy and a great writer.  Sample his take on The Karate Kid, his greatest post ever in my mind, and see for yourselves: 
Paul asked me how I am doing, and I shared that I'm going through an every day struggle I doubt will ever end and that I don't even really want to end.  It's part of who I am already. 
He responded that he lost his best friend 25 years ago, at age 13, and that he has thought about this friend every week since. Here's what he wrote that really hit home:
"I don't think we ever think about the 'last times' with the people we love until there can't be any more last times:  the last time you hugged or kissed them; said 'I love you'; held hands; shared a smoke or a meal; went for a car ride; or thanked them for their friendship or love they brought to your life.  Yet later, when they are gone, those last times are all we can think about."
I attended a leadership program for the county I live in this past year.  One Friday each month, the thirty or so of us enrolled in the program met to learn about the pressing economic and social issues facing our community.  We concluded "Literacy Day" back in January by thinking of two literacy initiatives we would try to implement and writing them on a note card.  I wrote my two goals and turned in the card as instructed, not thinking about it much more through the rest of the program.  Graduation came and went amidst the blur of life's many obligations, and the note card faded from memory.  I opened my mail yesterday and... surprise, surprise... there it was:
I guess you'll have to turn your heads sideways to read it.  Ok, I admit, I made up #2 to fill the requirement.  I'm busy enough at work already.  But #1 was real.  I loved reading to Ruby.  Sometimes she sat and listened, pointing to images in her books, and other times she impatiently turned the pages, eager to finish and run off to play.  Either way, I wanted more time with her.  She was learning and growing, and she left way too soon.  Paul is right.  You don't think about the last time you read to your daughter until there are no more opportunities.  Then you obsess over it.  I don't have a picture of that, but I do have this:
It's the last photo I took of her before she got sick.  I had just finished feeding her her supper, and she was watching a show.  I know... I know... she's standing way too close to her little TV.  Sue me.  Take a look at where her hand is.  It's resting on my leg, just under the edge of my shorts.  She stood there like that through most of the show.  I guess it was comforting to her.  Maybe I had the room too cold.  I was scared to move a muscle; I didn't want this precious moment to end.  If I concentrate, I can still feel her little hand resting on my leg.  The pain of our last times is a lot more bearable than forgetting them.

Monday, June 24, 2013


Well, here it is:  my blog.  I'm starting out on a great foot, too, writing my first post while needing to pee really badly.  I guess it will be a short one. 
I created this blog mostly to share my beautiful daughter, Ruby.  For those who don't know, she died on May 18, 2013, due to complications from pneumonia.  She was two months shy of her sixth birthday.  I don't want the blog to be completely depressing, though.  I guess if I'm going to write it I'd like for at least a few people to read it, and I don't think anyone wants to read some guy boo-hoo'ing all the time.  I just worked a dash and an apostrophe into the spelling of a word that's probably not really a word.  I'm proud of that.  Anyway, I'll try to celebrate her life as best I can with photos and funny stories.  I'm not always going to write about her, either.  Sometimes I might write about weight training and powerlifting competition.  I might even just rant about some topic that inspires or irritates me on occasion. 
I couldn't make it.  I had to run to the restroom.  That's probably too much information.  I feel better now, but I no longer have an excuse for a short, disjointed post other than laziness.  I feel the urge to mention that I don't really read blogs, as if that might suffice as some sort of explanation as to why I may not follow the rules.  Hopefully there aren't really any rules to blogging. 
This name "Ruminations"... there were a couple others on my short list, but I'm pretty happy with the selection.  So is our happy cud chewer:
I wish I had more than one stomach.  That would come in handy.
Have a great day.  I'll be back with more when I'm inspired and not a minute sooner.  Realistically, I probably won't get around to posting again until after the inspiration comes and goes, and I'm left only with a scribbled note reminding me of something that would make a great post.  I'm sure you'll all be waiting on the edges of your seats for that.