Do you remember going somewhere for the very first time and it seeming like it took forever to get there?
Long ago, in a time before SUV’s, station wagons criss-crossed the highways of the Land. Many of them held little kids like me with their faces pushed up against the glass, each pondering the age-old question, ‘Are we there yet?’
What always amazed me was no matter where we were going or how long it took to get there, the return trip never seemed as long.
This week I had cause to assemble a resume for a better job at where I work. And though my career took years to build, I was struck at how good it was to travel back and then, bring it all back home to the here-and-now.
And like the car trip, I was struck at how quick the trip has really been.
Ever the advocate of going forward and putting the past to rest on its rightful shelf, I think its good to occasionally take stock of our trip. Maybe that’s the appeal of scrap books, early journals and envelopes – some with letters; some holding actual photographs developed before there were simply digital images on a screen. For me, building a full vitae was as good a time machine as anything H.G. Wells or the Sci-Fi Channel could dream up.
All of that got me to thinking about all of this, my blogging experiment.
Week after week, you’ve welcomed me onto your screen and I value the privilege.
In light of my chronological archeology this week, I take you back to a post the numbers tell me gets visited quite often, then and now.
Curious myself, I went back and read it again. I liked it. It felt good to go back and visit a friend I had not seen in a long time. Just goes to show you, if you know where you’ve been and come back again, it’s easier to get to tomorrow, a destination you won’t reach till you get there. The good news is, you’ll know when you’ve arrived. ‘Are we there yet?’ Almost…
posted: September 16, 2011
With all due respect to the NPPC (National Pork Producers Council) and our porcine friends, farmers know their very survival depends on calling things for what they are. “No point in putting lipstick on a pig.” Makes sense, right? Let me do the same. My week found despair; failure; old bad behaviors; crushing omens of what life alone might be like; illness and a party.
How’s that for painting the pig ugly?
Having been under the same roof, in the same life, with the same person for this many years has not been accidental. And for everything we’ve come to mean to each other, this week reminded me how much work comes with keeping the partnership fresh and relevant. It is not the “Partridge Family”. It is not all ‘hubba hubba’ and it is certainly not a sale on Hallmark cards, one for every day of the week. I seriously doubt whoever proposed the idea of a 50/50 formula as ‘relationship reality’ has ever been in love for more than a week. Whoever proclaimed ‘unconditional’ as a relational characteristic deserves to be brought up on charges.
Don’t get me wrong. My sincere wish is you are lucky enough to be in love with someone who can pick up the slack when the other fades into fury. If you haven’t found that person yet? It’s worth the quest. But make no mistake, nothing about true love can be taken for granted. Yes, it can be a tough as tungsten, but it can also be fragile as old glass. In this case, the ‘other fades into fury’ was me (aka, ‘old dan’, the label I’ve given my alter-ego).
It all started when I was called out for having swept something ‘under the rug’. If you’ve read me before, you know that this is NOT what I’m working towards. But there it was. I had completely taken a back-seat on an issue that has recently begun calling for my active involvement. What can I say? I blew it. What makes it tougher is I hadn’t even detected the old behavior sneak in. In that moment of involuntary indictment, I felt like I was showing a lot of ‘pig’ with not much to pretty it up. Striking deep, the reality check damaged my pride, which in turn, ignited my anger. My walk and my talk weren’t matching. And what was worse, down deep I knew it. I believe it was an ancient prophet who put it best when he said, “Arrrrrrrggggggghhh!”. But it gets even better(?)…let’s travel back just a day or so earlier.
I never get sick…ever. But by Friday afternoon, I knew my body was intent on betraying me. Sorry Dr. Schuller, but try as I might, no amount of positive mental attitude was pushing back the aches or pains hitting places I didn’t even know I had. Within hours, I was sneezing, congestion was gathering and my eyeballs were drying out faster than hot sponges in a brush fire. As the symptoms grew, my super-hero stance on top of the tallest skyscraper took on an inverse proportion. My whole macho-man mystique was systematically being reduced to rubble at the feet of a Thera-Flu packet. And the sicker I became? The more pigs gathered as if in some kind of self-feeder trough conspiracy, flooding me and my precious little ego in slop.
As any farmer can tell you, illness, like a frightened pig, rarely concerns itself with being convenient. It didn’t care that for weeks, we had been looking forward to C&C’s work party on Saturday. As an aside, let me say I’ve rarely been associated with a group of such crazed (and talented) nut-jobs who love what we do, but that’s us at Work. We are very good at what we do and I am proud to be in their number. When I calculate my 40-hour work week and then subtract out time for sleep, I think I spend more time with my co-workers than I do at home. You can’t help but get exposed to their ups and downs. Or, in my case, their germs (god bless us, every one; pass the Kleenex).
The day of the party had finally arrived and there I was, slipping fast. Already knowing I shouldn’t go, I dissolved a packet of magic lemon-flavored powder and downed it like a champ. “No, we’re going! Let’s do this. We’re going.” Little did I realize I had only begun to fill my ‘pig’ quota.
Making our way out of the city, the directions the first C of the C & C duo had e-mailed me were wrong. How can that possibly be? He lives there! But there it was in his email, “Go right when you get to….”. So we followed the directions and went right. What we didn’t know was we were now headed in the wrong direction. We had made the turn but something wasn’t right. Town and burb were giving way to farm…not a good sign when you’re already dodging ‘pigs’. Two counties later…“Call them”. No phone # on the EM. Are you kidding me? This was an especially precious realization because just an hour earlier, it was I who had decided we didn’t need both e-mails…the other one of course, being the EM with their phone # on it. “You don’t have their number?!?” Nice. Maybe pigs can fly and spot their house for us.
But not to worry, having several of my co-workers in my contact list, I started calling them. They answered and guided us in. “Whew. We’re here.”
Then, we had to park. Parking? It would have easier to find parking at a free money convention. The narrow little lake paths they called roads in our destination neighborhood were barely a lane wide with even less shoulder on either side. But luck intervened and the other “C”, our hostess, saw us driving by and flagged us down, waving us right into the coveted Spot One on the slope they called their driveway – right at their front door. Wow! It sorta felt like being the president. Most excellent. Having finally arrived, I even caught myself thinking I might be starting to feel better. Excellent.
The food was amazing…we started off with home-made pot stickers and meatballs with sauce dripping off them like barbecued dew. I am proud to say I was quickly skewering them two and three at a time. Maybe the pigs were in retreat. Then, after the lip-smacking appetizers and finger-food, came the main menu. Filets and crab legs, boiled and dipped in clarified butter. Bam!! Pigs be gone.
Within minutes, I was confronted with my inability to get the stupid crab legs cracked open. They would not yield. I could hear the crabs calling the pigs. Now I had land AND sea creatures laughing at me…and the crabs were the amputees! So wrong on so many levels.
I have never worked so hard for a few morsels of seafood in all my life. Granted, most of that stemmed from a lack of any kind of good leg-cracking technique, but I’m from the Midwest. The Maine coastline is usually as close as the nearest Red Lobster. And there, the crab leg situation is already ‘solved’ by helpful servers working for tips.
As the dinner plates were cleared, the homemade carrot cake dessert made its grand entrance. I remember thinking that maybe my luck was turning. But as the breeze died down, several of us had started smelling gas. Like some kind of bad 3AM infomercial, I heard myself say,“But wait…there’s more…”. Smelling gasoline is not a good thing when there are tiki torches blazing for as far as the eye could see. Each of us took turns walking the house ISO of the source. No luck. Not good. The irony was not locating the source of the fumes until we were leaving to go home at the end of the night. It was our car, parked on that steep driveway…leaking a little of the fuel I had so proudly pumped in the day before. “Yep, I fill-filled it – we’re good!” Great…pigs with gas.
Where does all of this lead me? Where each ‘day before’ leads any of us…to this day and this moment in time and space with you.
I will forget getting sick. I will forget the skewed directions. I will forget the pot stickers and my wrestling match with the crab legs. And since there was no explosion, I’ll even forget the night’s smell of gas.
What I will not forget is the fantastic time we all had together – spouses, friends and neighbors– all together, laughing and telling stories late into the evening. And if it truly matters (and it does), I will rewind a little further back and remember when I couldn’t seem to do anything right in heading off a world-class argument that could have easily ignited the end of my ’till death do us part’. But we worked it out – together.
Life is good, but not because it is easy or assured. There are no magic formulas. There is anger and hurt, sickness and health. But if we are paying attention, there are wonderful and infinitely goofy moments, memories of which will carry us through the dark nights of our Souls. Those moments come because we take the field…we have skin in the game…that’s why it’s worth living. We earn it.
So with newly found respect for Wilbur, Porky and Pooh’s Piglet, I’ve recovered my center as well as my health.
The next time Life’s ‘pigs’ come looking for you like they did me, just tell them plain, “We don’t need no stinking lipstick”. Call your ‘pigs’ for what they are. Work hard to solve them and then, go celebrate something. After all, Life celebrated you when you entered the Planet. Why not take your mind off your ‘pigs’ and celebrate with the people you find around you. I did. It’s good medicine and I feel oh so much better. It’s what the Cosmos wants for each of us. Pigs or no, I wish you good journey this week. “Tha tha tha that’s all folks!”
(Died Sunday, March 16, 2014)
Amierah “Moonie” Roberson dies at 19-months…Suffer the Little Children.
On Monday, a Chicago toddler with a joy for singing and dancing, “Amierah Roberson was reported missing on Sunday after her mother went to pick her up from a home in the 3500 block of South Rhodes Avenue at about 5 p.m. Sunday, said the girl’s aunt, Tamika Vaughen. Jocelyn Roberson, 23, had left the child with her boyfriend and gone to her job on the South Side, Vaughen said. When she returned, she was told by her boyfriend that the child had suddenly disappeared, said Bernadette Madison, 46, Amierah’s grandmother. The body of a 17-month old girl found in a Riverdale park was identified as that of a toddler reported missing on the South Side, and the child’s death has been ruled a homicide, authorities said on Monday.
On Monday, family of the child gathered at Madison’s Calumet City home to grieve and console each other, Vaughen said. “She was a very happy baby,” Vaughen said. “She didn’t deserve this at all.”
Jocelyn Roberson and her boyfriend went to high school together and had been dating for about seven months, Vaughen said.
Amierah “was overall a happy and energetic baby,” Madison said. “She loved to play and dance and sing. I just can’t fathom why someone would go through this extreme and do something to a toddler. I will truly miss my granddaughter. I loved her so much and I’m so sad that I only had her for a short period of time.”
With a daughter of his own, the boyfriend of Amierah’s mother was taken into custody by Chicago police Sunday afternoon, shortly after Amierah was reported missing, officials said. He was charged after admitting he killed the little girl in his apartment and then dumped her body in Riverdale, police said.”
Surrounded by those that loved her, Amierah Roberson’s service was held Friday (3/21/14) at Salem Baptist Church on Chicago’s Far South Side.
Sources: from multiple articles By Lolly Bowean, Chicago Tribune reporter – 10:06 p.m. CDT, March 17, 2014: http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/breaking/chi-riverdale-child-found-20140317,0,7912719.story; http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2014-03-19/news/chi-moms-boyfriend-charged-in-death-of-19monthold-girl-20140319_1_south-side-man-riverdale-girlPhoto: http://www.dreamindemon.com/community/threads/19-m-o-ameriah-roberson-found-dead-of-subdural-hematoma-and-closed-head-injuries-due-to-an-assault.68075/
SERHIY VIKTOROVYCH. KOKURIN
(January 1, 1978 – March 18, 2014)
Ukrainian serviceman shot dead and local self-defence brigade member reported dead at base in Simferopol, Crimea, just hours after speech
“A 37-year old warrant officer of ethnic Russian descent, Serhiy Viktorovych Kokurin heroically died on March 18, 2014 while performing his duties (he was stationed on watch) during the assault on the 13th photogrammetric center of the Central Military Topographic and Navigation Main Directorate of Operations of the Armed Forces of Ukraine in Simferopol, Crimea.
Serhiy Viktorovych was always there for his mother, he was a sympathetic friend, who always understands and supports, for his brother; a loving husband and a caring father to his son. Serhiy didn’t survive the two months till the birth of his second child.”
( Died March 18, 2014)
One of Chicago’s most dedicated LGBT advocates has died.
“Vernita Gray died of cancer late Tuesday at the Chicago home where she married wife Pat Ewert last November in what was the state of Illinois’ first legally-recognized same-sex marriage, the Associated Press reports. She was 65.
The Windy City Times reports Gray was a Chicago native who came out as a lesbian shortly after she attended Woodstock in 1969. There, she had first learned of the Stonewall Riots.
“In 1969, I didn’t really have a clue about a career, what I wanted to do with my life. As an African-American woman coming out as a lesbian, I knew I wanted to be free and wanted to be afforded all the opportunities in our culture to be who I really was. I knew that I did not want to be a closeted lesbian,” Gray told the Times’ Tracy Baim as part of the Chicago Gay History project in 2007. “I knew that I wanted to be gay and wanted to enjoy my life with other gay people.”
It wasn’t long before Gray immersed herself in activism. That same year she helped develop a telephone hotline, and started organizing support groups for gay and lesbian Chicagoans at both local colleges and in her own home, according to her biography on the website of the Chicago Gay and Lesbian Hall of Fame, into which she was inducted in 1992.
Gray was a graduate of Columbia College Chicago and went on to help establish Chicago’s first lesbian newspaper, Lavender Woman. She also formed the lesbian caucus of Gay Liberation, a group that served as a precursor to the Chicago-based Gay Liberation Network, the Chicago Phoenix reports. She was a nearly constant presence at most LGBT marches and rallies in Chicago for decades.
Last October, she energized the crowd with her speech at the March on Springfield marriage equality rally:” [Hear her remarks at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=-uSIZB1Ft1w]
Gray first battled breast cancer in the early 1990s, and the long battle with the disease worsened two years ago.
Gray married Ewert in a private ceremony on Nov. 27, 2013, days after a federal judge allowed the couple — and other same-sex couples including at least one terminally ill person — to wed early, despite the law not going into effect until June 1, 2014. They had been engaged since Christmas 2009 and were a couple for five years. A friend eloquently sang Etta James’ “At Last” at the ceremony. The marriage was “like Christmas, my birthday, the tooth fairy all rolled into one at this point in my life,” Gray told CBS Chicago.
A memorial will be held Monday, March 31, 1 p.m. at the Goodman Theatre.
Sources: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/03/19/vernita-gray-dead_n_4993247.html; Windy City Times: http://www.windycitymediagroup.com/lgbt/PASSAGES-Vernita-Gray-longtime-activist-dies/46665.html and Photo: http://thinkprogress.org/lgbt/2013/11/26/2995871/federal-judge-illinois-sex-couple-facing-terminal-illness-marry-immediately/
SOURCES, PHOTO CREDITS and ATTRIBUTIONS:
Banner Coastal Redwood Forest by Eric E Photography is used with permission.
volkswagen station wagon ad: http://www.pinterest.com/pin/260223684691228422/; are-we-there-yet: http://media.irishcentral.com/images/are-we-there-yet.jpg; Movie-Clapboard-Cardboard-Cutout (source): https://www.wallyspartyfactory.com/products/film-clapper-cardboard-cutout-42-x-33/; Image credit: Norman Rockwell (American, 1894-1978) Going and Coming, 1947 Cover illustration for The Saturday Evening Post, August 30, 1947 Oil on canvas Two panels, each 16 x 31 1/2 in. (40.6 x 80 cm) Norman Rockwell Art Collection Trust © The Norman Rockwell Estate / ©1947 SEPS: http://arthistory.about.com/b/2009/05/23/norman-rockwell-at-the-detroit-institute-of-arts.htm
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