Full Moon

<a href=”https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/ballerina-fireman-astronaut-movie-star/”>Ballerina Fireman Astronaut Movie Star</a>

Last week’s full moon had me recalling years ago when a group of friends was crashing at my parent’s house.  It was New Year’s Eve either in 1992 or 1993, I’d need to look at some historical data to figure out which.  But it was one of those lovely Blue Moons that just lit up the sky.

We’d grabbed some blankets and made out way up to the front yard where we could get a clear view of the night sky.  There were probably 15 of us total, dressed in sweats or something similar.  [We were playing board games and just enjoying the company, no formal wear required!]  Some were couples, others just a date for the evening, maybe one or two single people who hadn’t found that person yet?

One of the neighbor’s thought we got locked out of the house and offered their copy of the spare, only to learn we were sitting there with our coffee cups just talking in the cold night air.

My godson was about 3 months away from making his debut and that was a topic we all were concerned about.  Those friends being the first to marry and start their way to true adulthood.  If this really was 1993, I had just graduated from college that month and was looking forward to something different.  One guy was in a five year engineering program, so he still had some time to go.  Others were preparing for their own graduation that spring.

Our breath was floating in front of us as we spoke about the future.  All of us worried about things that we couldn’t control or just weren’t sure we could handle.  That false bravado of conquering the world was gone and we knew that each of us would be trying to make our own way and in some cases in places far from where we currently sat.

A couple of education majors, two engineers, an economist, various science fields and one who went on to finish college but decided that raising a family was going to be her goal.  [not a thing wrong with that, running a family requires all of those skills in short bursts for extended periods of time.]  We held onto one another tightly that evening.

I honestly don’t recall what the goal was when I was younger.  My parents had dragged me to so many engineering classes of their own while in Grad School that I knew that wasn’t what I wanted.  It was about the only thing I knew I didn’t ever want to become.  While I can argue Physics with my father as well as any of his classmates, I wanted something different.

Fortunately they understood since my grandfather never let my father forget that he disapproved of his becoming a Ph.D. [don’t ask, they weren’t the nicest of people to either of my parents or even one of their other daughters.  Strange when parents are supposed to want better only to resent the children who actually achieve that.]

The next New Year’s Eve wasn’t the same.  The couples had rearranged or just gone away and there was some resentment within the group on how to deal with those mixed emotions.  For all that we had spoken the previous year, we had resorted back to being 10 years old.  I had dinner with the godson and his parents then went to visit a friend where we just watched the ball drop on Time’s Square.  It wasn’t the same ever again…

There are few perfect moments in life.  Birth of a child, learning to ride a bike without the training wheels, that first kiss while standing in the rain, all great memories.  While last week’s full moon was referred to as the “Mourning Moon” and I have no interest in learning why, I don’t need to worry about the person I wanted to become.

I don’t think we ever truly become that person, no matter what path our life takes.  Bumps in the road, life-altering forks, and dead ends all change who will were from just yesterday.  The best that I think any of us can do is hold onto each other and do everything we can to make those changes easier.

So sorry no fireman or teacher, lawyer or doctor story to tell.  When I think about deciding the future, I tend to rely on that memory of a New Year’s Eve from long ago.



Paint-By-Numbers, Only Bigger

<a href=”https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/teach-your-bloggers-well/”>Teach Your (Bloggers) Well</a>

The entire day could be spent with me teaching you the basics of Behavioral Economics, getting you to the point where you could better negotiate some situation.  But that’s not an important life skill, not like painting a room.  I’m sure at some point everyone has tried and worked hard at perfecting their space, but let me give you a few tips that I learned form the two summers I spent working as “unskilled labor” during college.

Why painting?  My family thought I would learn something that wasn’t going t be picked up from sitting in an office all day.  And I’ll freely admit, it was hard work painting interiors and exteriors of businesses and residential homes.  The pay was better than I would have gotten interning, so that was a plus.  And I got a decent tan!

Materials – Don’t buy the cheapest thing you find at the local Home Depot.  The results won’t be right.  I’m not suggesting a cart full of tools, just think about spending about $3.00 U.S. for each roller cover.  The actually doesn’t matter, just something that feels comfortable in your hand.  Also that cut brush you’ll be using to do the edges, an simple angled brush made from natural material [cleans up easier!]  And don’t forget some edging tape for those window sills!

Did I leave out drop clothes, trays, liner for the trays and possibly a six pack of your favorite malty beverage.  Of course, but those you know.  I personally have never used a drop cloth and I have hardwood floors in my house.  But I can teach you a trick a bit later.

Getting Ready – Take your time putting the tape around the floor boards and window sills/door jams.  It can be annoying to anyone doing this, but If you have white trim and blue walls, life-saver.

Painting – Hold the brush you bought for the trim between your thumb and index/middle finger perpendicular to the floor.  Now when you place it in the paint, just go 1/4 of the way up then bristles, wiping just one side of the brush.  Place that brush against whatever surface and let it fan out just slightly as you drag it downward.  [Work in only one direction, top to bottom if possible!]  to that for all the edges and corners where the walls meet.

Now the harder part, that roller.  Get it good and wet with paint.  Not dripping as you walk towards a wall, just run it back and forth 3 or 4 times in the pan before each stroke.  Paint a “X” in front of you and fill in the area.  If you hear the roller making that slurping sound like velcro being pulled, stop and go get more paint.  Your undoing your own work at this point.  Obviously there will be a few areas where you can’t paint an “X”, just us simple strokes about the length of your arm and continue.

We pause now for that first malty beverage…just not the whole thing otherwise if you’re painting more than one room we didn’t buy enough and we’ll be falling down drunk by the end of the project!

Oh that boasting about not using a drop cloth, that’s why you bought a decent roller cover, they tend not to spray the world with little dots of paint.  But by all means if this is your first attempt at painting, spend the extra $10.

One of the other bits of advice, find something relaxing to listen to while painting.  I’m a big fan of baseball and it moves so slowly that I’m not getting wound-up unless the pitcher has screwed up his wind-up!  If you keep you mind duly occupied, you don’t get nervous.  I like my Hard Rock, but it only gets me jumping around and overly energetic to finish, like having too much caffeine for some people.

The other piece of advice, don’t paint a room with another person unless you absolutely have to.  When I was working at this for those summers, everyone picked a different area to work on.  It seems odd, but it only means you don’t trip over one another.  Plus it might let you keep speaking to your significant other later that day.

Painting is simple if you just let yourself go for a bit and relax.

Now I won’t tell you much about the lunatic doctor who bought a building but was too cheap to just replace the wood paneling with drywall.  I spent TWO WEEKS putting joint compound into little cracks and then sanding down roughly 10,000 square feet of offices.   In economics we have a word for people like that, idiots!


Razor’s Edge of Sanity

<a href=”https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/i-cant-stay-mad-at-you/”>I Can’t Stay Mad at You</a>

Can I try to be honest about this?  After having so many people walk in and out of my room over the past 24 hours, I’m exhausted.  The only person who isn’t smiling is me and everyone keeps asking why.  I got lucky this time, after all the build up to the potential outcomes for this round of surgery; things are bad but not ugly.

The surgeon finished with me, the scraping of my left arm for tissue, tendon, and a bit of bone to clear out yet some more cancerous garbage.  I’m to keep everything else in the places where my genetics first arranged them.  In short, still have the arm!  But the next time I can’t help wonder if I’m going to be that lucky.  And really, how many more times am I going to be able to add a little more time to the calendar.

When Kathy and her family agreed to help out there was one condition, I keep trying to find a solution.  Sounds simple?  It’s not.  There are days when I truly wish things sped up.  Selfish beyond comprehension?  Maybe?  I’m not really sure when you know that others, even when willing to give everything of themselves, are being saddened with my contribution.  This particular family and I have been down this road before and I am honored and petrified to think we are walking down that same path.  Before it was only a few weeks watching someone decline, this is much longer.

We all agreed that if I had stayed in Maryland, I would have done this by myself.  I wouldn’t have involved others.  Still carrying that guilt about needing them during the daughter issue, I would have stayed silent until someone read about it in the paper “Crazed Border Collie eats Owner!”

There is plenty of sick, childish humor I can find in all of this.  Most times I’m smart enough to know to keep my mouth shut as well.  Because I don’t want to be defined by the cancer or solely by the events regarding my daughter or even her mother’s leaving.  I’m more than those events.  While the cancer has a hold on me at present and it’s grip is definitely stronger than I would like, it can’t be me.

I love baseball, playing the piano [even when I keep headphones on to hid my mistakes], and while most people who knew me might shake their heads in confusion, I have a huge soft spot for kids.  Those things are worth wearing the label for, big letters across my chest.  And since work still sends me projects to complete, I must still have some of that?

There’s always going to be a part of me that is said about those other things, you don’t ever get over the loss of a child.  I keep reminding myself of that when dealing with my mother.

Any person who has dealt with these life-altering events understands that they can absolutely drag you down.  So much deeper into a world that you never knew, that depression being ugly and at times all-encompassing.  It’s taken lots of therapy, some interesting pharmaceuticals [chemo/anti-depressants/ other odds and ends], and running away to get me closer to who I want to be.  I’m still universes away.

There are few days when I don’t think about one or two people back in Maryland and if I did the right thing.  For any of us.  I’ll probably never know the answer.  You learn to live with that…

The doctors and nurses, Kathy and her brood, even the interaction I allow my family isn’t going to fix this.  Dying is hard.  I wish there were better, stronger words I could share, but I don’t have them.  I just know that I hope there comes a time when I’m strong enough to understand how to handle this better.  That goal of being a better person for my daughter certainly took a strange turn!

I don’t think I did the right thing by just cutting other people out.  My grief just told me they needed a break from me, I just didn’t realize how hard it would be to reach out now that I could use someone to talk to.

Still working on that forgiving myself thing.


Leather Journal

<a href=”https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/literate-today/”>Literate for a Day</a>

Every evening I sit down and write and summary of the day in  journal.  It’s different than the one I keep for my therapist, this one isn’t electronic but rather a leather bound version I picked up some time ago.  I write things to my daughter, stupid observations about the day.  How I was feeling, things I did, maybe if the sunrise was especially beautiful that morning.  It seems odd to do,  but hopefully it will continue to help me cope with life.

I feel silly sometimes talking to a Deity that at times I question his/her motives.  And while the dog still hasn’t figured out that she shouldn’t scratch the screen, Facetime has been interesting for her.  There are plenty of reasons why I don’t talk to many people, some are valid but most are just fear.  Not knowing what to say or how to say it.  So this collection of words to an audience that can’t read is my way of reaching out.

Yesterday when the terror of today’s surgery was starting to take hold, I just sat there on the bed with my hand out to my side.  For a little while, my friend Kathy held it and for a little while her granddaughter held it.  We didn’t talk because there just weren’t any words.  And knowing that it won’t be until this afternoon when they wheel me into an operating room to determine if I get to keep some, most, all of my arm just didn’t seem like something to dwell on.  That was what quiet time for me was about.

My beliefs have been tested and the one that I cling to is that sometime in the future I will see my daughter again.  Goes against all of my previous thoughts regarding religion or really anything.  But for know I right in that journal so she can see inside my head, better than if she truly can watch me from some distance.

For years I thought I had nothing to say.  Being scared to write anything because I just didn’t know how.  It wasn’t fear for a lack of talent, it was that I just thought that if I told people what really was going on they might run away.  In this case I ran towards writing to a specific person because I knew that she would always try to understand.  Abigail is now a captive audience of sorts, but hopefully a willing one?

There will come a point where I might not be able to write in that journal.  I never really know what date my head will start to give out a bit and my body will be forced to follow suit.  Those pages will then be words whispered from my mouth in an attempt to still talk to my friendly ghost.

For now, I must go make today’s entry because later I belief I may still be under the influence of some nice narcotics that a lovely doctor will be pumping into me under some bright lights!

I hope you all find peace today.  The kind that puts a smile not only on your face but in your heart.

Deep Cut or Complete Cut?

<a href=”https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/a-tale-of-two-cities/”>A Tale of Two Cities</a>

It always starts out as something simple.  This time it was a bump on my left arm that we honestly were treating like a clot.  Too bad it kept pushing on my muscles and after two weeks we finally decided to run those stupid tests I long ago stopped worrying about.  You get diagnosed with cancer once, you rarely think about the continued new locations it might show up.  I’ve been doing this round for a year plus and nothing surprises me anymore.

Monday comes the bigger decision, how much do we take out?  Just the tumor itself and maybe some surrounding tissue?  Or are we going to find something worse while I’m laying there listening to them talk about my options?  The best case for any of this is losing some feeling and definitely some range of motion.  Where do I draw the line?

One of the last things that still gives me hope is the feeling of a hug.  There’s nothing stopping someone from giving me one, but I wonder how much effort it will take to return that simple gesture.

Years ago I had some muscle cleaned up from my right arm.  It was a combination of old baseball injury and a cyst that was easy to repair.  Walked out the same day with a sling and was dumb enough to drive myself home.  Those were the early days of my relationship with the ex and I still needed to figure all of that out, leaning on her might have been too much.  Her showing up with a plant later was definitely a surprise since I didn’t tell her I was home at the time.

But that was simple.  I’ve had sports injuries over my years, this is different.  When I have to think about it attached to bone you enter a new level of concern.  Yep, and no I will not let them take any portion of my arm beyond some muscle/tendon/fatty tissue!

I realize this isn’t the prompt, but I write enough about bouncing between Boston and Annapolis.  Running away from one life in Maryland and being completely scared of the life I have in Boston.  I came here to get help, and I’m getting it but sometimes I forget the cost to myself.  And others…

Can I add some level of stupid now?  I’ve become attached to my left arm?  Sorry, needed to do that, even I grimaced!

Hopefully the family I live with will understand why some hug might be too long.  And yes, I’m going to be completely trapped in a world were the only thing that matters was holding my daughter.  Can’t be helped, times like this I need those thoughts to get me through.  They are powerful, they have  a strong ability to ground my emotions, even when they sometimes get too strong.

Those hugs and maybe some time with a piano will be my afternoon.  I don’t want to squander the opportunity.

Building Character

<a href=”https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/it-builds-character/”>It Builds Character</a>

Economics, Science, followed by a book just for the fun of it.  I try to stay within that pattern so that I don’t find myself trying to collect books on a single topic and binge read them like I might some show.  The first two are easy to understand why, I’m an economist who started out as a physics major in college.  But the last topic is harder to explain.

Every single book that I have ever enjoyed has had a character I could relate to on some level.  I just finished a book called “The Survivor” which is a thriller.  The main character is damaged in a way that few people understand.  His wife and daughter were lost in an act of horrific violence that haunts and drives his actions moving forward.  He was a tough man before, and only in this story [which happens to be the 13th in a series] does he acknowledge the damage he has done to himself while trying to put things right.  I can relate to this man.

There are other authors who pull on material that make me not wish to put down the pages.  But we all look for some situation that touches on a bit of humanity, or at least something we can relate to or wish for in our own lives.

I’ve spent hours writing about my daughter.  Creating for her a world that stopped a while ago, but allows me to deal with my grief in a manner that is in this one instance, healthy.  Building someone whose future has endless options, trying to understand if she would have even liked certain things as the years progressed.  She has become my favorite character.

Abigail can be a crime fighter or President.  Soccer player or dedicate her life to raising a family of her own.  I can always go back and change some aspect of her future since I can’t change her past.  These stories have become a “choose your own adventure” where I can jump entire pages or chapters by making even the smallest of choices.  My relationship doesn’t have to ever end.  There are always new stories to write.

It’s the same relationship I have built with the fictional Mitch Rapp in this series of books.  Trying to relate to his actions, his pain, his motivation for moving forward.  The author picked someone who has aged along with me, drawing on experiences from real life that occurred at the same timeline as my own.  World events interwoven with the fantasy of a guy who at times leaps off the page for me.

I love classic literature, the themes of love and loss, revenge and redemption.  My aunt gave me all of the “classics” when I was young.  But my favorite character is still my daughter.

Please Don’t Touch the Painting!

<a href=”https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/the-power-of-touch/”>The Power of Touch</a>

At some point in the early 90’s there was a display of Impressionist Art at the Philadelphia Art Museum.  That place too many people associate with Rocky movies, but contains some truly incredible works from just about every genre you can imagine.  This particular exhibit was centered on Monet and Manet, the former being my absolute favorite and my knowledge of the later was brought forward that day.

There is a piece by Monet, whose title I just can’t get right, where a young lady carrying a parasol along with a small child walk along a river’s bank.  Everything about that image is stuck in my head.  For years afterwards I would try to capture that same emotional set but with a camera.  And sometimes just from having seen someone I didn’t know recreating a portion of my vision.  The number of times I sat watching people along Boston Commons, it might have labeled me a stalker!

Over the years I have seen so many people walk along with their child.  Holding their hand while running errands, crossing the street, just going about the normal things that we see every day.  But in my head, I saw a variation on that Monet painting that always made me smile.  Even when I have seen parents walking their kids around the hospital, there is a small part of me that recalls that day in the museum.

Maybe it holds such a strong place because when I think about my mother’s father that is exactly the image that comes to mind.  Him walking me around a park, feeding the ducks or pushing me on a swing-set.  There came a time when we didn’t walk like that anymore, but the feeling of his hand gripping mine is something precious.

My nephew is a few years older than my daughter and when I would see my own father lean over [he’s 6’3″ so small children give that Hunchback reference to his spine!], it made me jealous.  When my nephew got older, he liked to go into the woods.  It meant sometimes holding that tiny hand of his so that he could make it up a hill or across some small creek running along the property.  It was fun.

That same feeling of a small hand, that was all of my own creation came along eventually.  My mind went to planning years worth of walks in the woods, to the park, just up and down the stair while she was learning the delicate nature of one foot in front of the other.  There are still times when I let my mind picture what it would have been like to walk her down the aisle, but then I snap back to reality.

Over the years that hand would have felt different with each phase of life.  Barely fitting the palm of my hand until we hit the point where she was digging nails into my palm because I was saying something silly to her friends.

At some point it should have been her hand holding mine for the last time not the other way around.  A different flash of memories flooding us both.

That painting hanging on the wall set a 21 year old college kid on a path for years.  First just finding a reproduction to hang on the wall [which I still have not found!], later setting a goal on how I was going to want to live my life.  You never touch art, but art touches you.  Looking for that hand has been a wonderful adventure, one I was lucky to share.