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Just Another Day

May 11, 2014 Leave a comment

I wrote this at the start of my senior year in college for the college newspaper, in October 1994. 

SunriseAfter the long dark night, a faint glimmer of light appears low on the black horizon.  A chorus of crickets is replaced by an orchestra of birds.  They proclaim the birth of a new day.  The blackness hanging in the air turns to a dark blue.  The once blackened horizon is covered by a garment of orange and red.  It is the royal gown of the daughter of night.

Finally, like it has done for billions of years before, the sun rises, spreading its mighty arms and embracing  the vast  lands of its domain with its magnificent lights.  Morning has broken, and life stirs within its loving embrace.

Through a second-story window, the sun has cast one of her morning rays gently across the face of a tiny red- haired baby boy.  The small child stirs and opens his sky-blue eyes.  Like an angel spreading its wings, the baby spreads the corners of his mouth revealing a tiny but beautiful toothless smile.  His eyes open wide with excitement as he talks quietly with the sun ray in a language that only the two of them can understand.  Two hundred miles away, the little angel’s uncle thinks about him and smiles, knowing that he is going home soon to see him.

The sun spreads her rays through a classroom window.  A student stares down at her notebook, doodling as she waits for her professor to stop talking.  It is her last class on Friday, and she thinks about her plans for that weekend.  She is going on a road trip, visiting an old friend from high school at her college in Rhode Island.  It is going to be a long trip, but who cares… at least she will be away from college for a weekend.

In her doodling, a number appears followed by a date:  220 days, May 13, 1995.  She has to use her long dark hair to cover her face as her eyes light up and a huge smile takes control of her lips.  People would think she was crazy if they saw her smiling that way in her Spanish class.  Not much time left.  A guy next to her just happens to catch her smile.  He smiles also, thinking she was smiling at him…

In another part of campus, the sun casts its light across a white envelope with one of those clear plastic windows.  A young man peers into the envelope.  As he does so, he jumps for joy:  he will be able to buy plenty of beer tonight.  Just as he does so, a young lady stops to talk to him.  It’s the girl he has been flirting with since he first met her in his Geography class.  She asks him if he wants to study with her for the test next week.  It’s going to be a good day, he thinks.

With the sun burning on her back, a girl dressed in green sprints down the field carrying her field hockey stick.  Her entire concentration is on the small white ball that is rolling and bouncing along the grass towards a predestined rendezvous point ahead of her.  She starts her back swing and fires.  Another unidentifiable girl covered from head to toe in protective clothing dives to her right.  The small ball rolls just beyond the edge of her stick.  The girl in green shouts in joy as she is mobbed by her teammates.  Laughter surrounds them.

With the sun reflecting off his glasses, a man talks excitedly on a pay phone with his mother.  He’s telling her about the job he will have when he graduates in two and a half months.  His four and a half years at college have paid off.  Barely able to speak in his own excitement, he tells her about the black 1995 Camaro he is going to buy in January.  He tells her to tell Dad that he is getting in his car and is headed home.  He will be there in four hours with a bottle of champagne.  He tells her to be dressed nicely because he is taking them out to dinner.  Tears are now in his eyes.  His mother, her voice trembling in pride, tells him that she loves him.  He returns the sentiment, hangs up the phone, and jumps into his old, rusty Chevette.  He pauses, takes a deep breath and gently pats the dashboard of his car.  1995 Black Camaro, he thinks with a smile bigger than the Grand Canyon.

As the sun sits low in the western sky, two old friends talk comfortably on a small white bench beside the creek.  After weeks of fighting, they have settled their major problems.  A difficult road is ahead, but the worst is behind.  A peaceful silence falls upon them as they stare deeply towards the full moon that has risen early on the eastern horizon.  He finally turns to her and tells her that even in friendship, he will always love her.  They embrace.

Across the creek from them, a young man zips past on a green and black bike.  His Notre Dame hat sits a little crooked on his head.  As he rides through the center of campus, he thinks about tomorrow’s game, the laundry he has to do, and the fact that he has survived yet another stressful week.  The cool, crisp autumn air feels good after the long, hot summer. There is just something about it that makes him feel so alive and free.  As he reaches the peak of the hill going toward his apartment, his eyes are met with a fiery red, orange and purple sky.  He loses his breath. No matter how many he times he sees it, he is always impressed by an autumn sunset.  He pedals faster toward the sunset, the light reflecting off his face.  He smiles, and then thrusts his arms in the air, as if he were flying.  LIFE IS GREAT, he thinks.  “Thank You, God,” he says.

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The Search is Over…

IMG_20121017_194600Desperate times, oh this dark dark day,

My favorites, you monsters, have taken away.

No warning, no word to warn a coming plight,

You cowards just took it and slipped into the night.

For strong fabric at the seams I pray,

The reserves to stay whole beyond their day.

Woe is me, they begin to unravel now!

Woe is me, replace them? Oh how?

The search begins…some high and some low,

Some seem fine, but they will not let me grow.

Bunching, bagging, binding and scratching,

Slipping, sliding, sagging and batching.

The frustration and chaffing now run deep,

And in my search I have found none I can keep.

And then before all hope can fade and fall,

I decided to give in my cash and call.

Hallelujah, I can hear the birds sing!

Hallelujah, let the church bells ring!

A spring day after a the long winter gives yield.

A cool glass of water after a hot day in the field.

First ray of light at dawn of a cold stormy night,

Your own warm bed after a ten hour flight.

These are the rivals that can barely even compare,

To my newly discovered and glorious underwear!

(Yes…Yes I did just write a poem about having to find a new brand/style of underwear. Thank you Tommy John Underwear!)

Categories: Poem, Uncategorized

Sunset in the Foothills

May 2, 2014 1 comment

2012-10-18_17-17-09_25Into the glowing foothills I follow,

Before the mountains can swallow,

A sun casting rays in desperate fight,

Against the looming dark of night.

 

Her beams spread low, taking hold,

Of rocks and trees in the gentle cold.

Golden moments, they shine a glow,

Helpless, though, as shadows grow.

 

Frantically I make my chase,

Pleading, begging, stating my case,

To a force that bears no pleas,

As it rushes from eastern seas.

 

Into a canyon and night’s trawl,

I’m cast into a certain pall,

As daytime’s digits grab the rim,

Hope and light begin to dim.

 

I turn and speed to my escape,

Out from beyond the nighttime drape,

And up a new road on mountain face,

I quickly restart my now doomed race.

 

I reach for the last shining ray,

Hoping, praying, for pardon’s stay.

I fear my scramble is too late,

But refuse to accept my fate.

 

Rising up on peak ablaze,

On the mountain’s western gaze,

I’m reminded that it’s just a hill,

As my eyes, a mighty range now fill.

 

My chase, my hike, my journey here,

A plodding sprint done in fear,

Is far from meeting a sudden end,

A truth my mind muddles to mend.

 

An ocean of valleys and summits I see,

Calling out on the sweet wind’s plea.

Lakes and rivers and caves to explore,

Ignorance falls, there is so much more.

 

I take a deep breath, a rest, on foothill peak,

Close my eyes and let it speak.

There are hands in my hands, I should’ve known,

This is not a journey I take alone.

 

“Let’s go,” the tiny voices excitedly beg,

Pulling on my arm and leg.

“It’s time to move on,” she says clear,

With her hand, she holds me near.

 

I smile as they have made their case,

And take them all in warm embrace.

But before we can start our new track,

I know I need to take a last look back.

 

Even now with the sun nearly set,

It was not complete darkness I met,

Instead, over the plains to the East,

Rose the night’s grand royal priest.

 

Low on the horizon, he loomed large,

Floating silent as giant plains barge,

Less of a heavenly body of light,

More a deep hole punched into the night.

 

Comforted even in twilight’s glaze,

I turn forward my hopeful gaze,

Knowing I need not be afraid,

We walk on faithfully with love’s blade.

 

With my eyes set upon a distant peak,

Without fear to make me weak,

We leave hope and laughter in our wake,

Savoring each of these steps we take.

The World Famous Artist

whitefedoraPushing your ordinary, everyday shopping cart in behind me at your ordinary, every day supermarket came, apparently, a world famous artist. Although I never saw this man before and had no idea who he was, I knew in an instant he was an artist. For all I know, he could have been a world famous artist, but what I saw was a world famous caricature of an artist.

White pants and a black Hawaiian shirt printed with pictures of a wood panel surf car hung on a short squat frame that indicated he was not the starving kind of world famous artist. He had a long scraggly brown beard that came to a sharp point just above his chest. His eyes were covered by large brown-framed glasses and the whole image was perfected with a white fedora sitting low on his brow. The only thing I didn’t know was what medium this world famous artist played in…but he did not keep that a secret for very long.

“You are a very pretty girl,” he matter-of-factually said to the cashier. And, in this point, he wasn’t lying. She had dark hair that was cast to one side of her head, partially covering her pale, but slightly freckled complexion. Her ice blue eyes seemed to contradict the warm smile that welcomed a smile back. It only took a glance to realize that she too may have been a stereotype of a pretty, hardworking, small town girl just biding her time at a register in an ordinary, everyday supermarket until she could make it big in whatever it was that was her passion.

She smiled sheepishly, dismissing his compliment by focusing on processing my payment. “Yep, you are a beautiful girl and that is coming from a world famous artist, so you know that is fact.” It would be a sweet sentiment if it was indeed a sentiment about her, meant to bring attention to her, instead of a creepy, self serving sentiment meant to bring attention to himself.

You could almost hear the cashier shift gears as she glanced into his cart to determine how long she might have to endure him and how to best handle him…This wasn’t her first encounter with a world famous artist. “Oh really,” she uttered in the same tone of voice I use when my sons start to tell me about a certain yellow cartoon sponge that lives under the sea.

“Yep,” he said, “George William Artiste, World Famous Artist. George William Artiste, painter.” (Name withheld to protect the desperate.)

“Oh wow,” she said with confidence, almost mocking. He continued to repeat who he was as she turned to me to collect my signature on the credit card receipt. I signed, handed it back to her. I looked her in the eyes and gave her a knowing, I-am-so-sorry-for-you smile and said thank you. She seemed to understand my smile and returned the thank you. I told her to have a nice night and walked away as I heard him continue to repeat who he was.

I could only wonder if a world famous artist really needed to remind people that he was a world famous artist.

Facing Down 40

August 23, 2013 Leave a comment

As I start writing this, technicalities aside, I am an hour away turning 40. It’s a milestone that for a couple of years has loomed over me as time hurtled me forward. I wish I could say that I got here with grace, class and a smile. But, in actuality, I’ve been kicking and screaming and bemoaning my age. It seemed that I was met daily with reminders that I am not 25 anymore…I’m not even 35 anymore…and that made me, well, unhappy.

20130823_000400I am fighting myself as I write this…I want to detail all the ways that getting old sucks and all the ways that turning 40 has bothered me. I want to write about my emotional rollercoaster that brought me to where I am tonight. I want to spill my guts and ask for forgiveness from everyone for being such a baby about this. However, that would be counter-productive. I have mostly come to terms with the fact I am no longer 25 and to talk about how I am no longer 25 would be cheating on the 40 year old me that I now welcome.

Sure, I am scared of hurting myself if I try to play basketball, but that’s just good sense. Sure, I love to reminisce college and first meeting Andrea and working in baseball and the births of my sons, but I’d rather think and love these times and moments that are around me now. Old pictures tug at the heartstrings, October baseball is a time machine and videos of Benjamin barely five minute old send my over the edge, but that doesn’t matter so much. I have so many wonderful things around me now to take new pictures of, there will always be October baseball (just maybe not for my Mets) and there are some nights that I can’t wait for my sons to wake up in the morning so that I can talk to and play with them.

I do carry a bit of regret with me. I had hoped to be about 30 pounds lighter than I am now and able to ride my bike great distances, but I have confidence that will come. I had hoped to have the first draft of my novel completed by now, but I do have five chapters and more than 37,000 words written when I had no words written 2-½ years ago. So I am okay with that. I have confidence that one day, it will be complete (whether or not it is good is a whole other story). Of course, there are other regrets, but their time will come.

So that leaves me here, now about 30 minutes away from 40, and I have come to terms with who I am, the good and the bad (but still working to fix the bad.)

I have a beautiful wife that wants to spend time with me, and I with her. We are still deeply in love after nearly 14 years of marriage and nearly 19 years since our first kiss.

I have two smart and funny boys who make me laugh every day and fill my heart with such joy. If my novel never gets finished, but we’ve manage to raise two gentle and loving boys into two strong, loving and respectful boys, then I will have left my mark on this world.

I have a wonderful, caring family that I love and cherish and continue to show me the humor behind even the toughest of times and continue to teach me about love.

I still collect Transformers (the robots) and LEGO’s because they remind me that I don’t need to be a kid to still enjoy the things that made me happy when I was a kid. And don’t even get me started on my collection of tee shirts.

I love the tradition, lore and romance of baseball and the Mets continue to break my heart. But I love the New York Football Giants, as well, and they make my cup runneth over. Sports still fill me with excitement and nostalgia.

I dream of one day making a living at being a writer, but I have a really good job that allows me to be do the other things in my personal life that I love.

I love drinking my whiskey neat not just because I enjoy the taste and bite, but because it makes me feel like a badass (especially when I drink the Rye). However, there is nothing like a big bowl of ice cream that has just started to melt.

I could go on, but the point is, I like 40 year old me…I have a good life and I look forward to seeing what the next days, months and years bring me. No, I am not exactly young anymore, but there is a lot of living ahead of me.

A few months ago, I sat down to write a poem to try to deal with my emotions around turning 40 and, if I may say so, was some of the best writing I have done in years. I felt like it was full of just the right symbolism and it made made me happy writing it. However, I have yet to finish it. I have, in the past, been completely frustrated with trying to finish it. It has only been in the last few days that I realized the symbolism of that mere fact. Turning 40 isn’t the ending of something…It is a continuation. And while the first part is nice, the rest still needs to be written.

So, as the final panels of my favorite all time comic strip said, “It’s a magical world, Hobbes ‘ol Buddy…Lets go exploring. (And I turn 40 just as I finished writing this.)

Categories: Growing Up, Uncategorized Tags:

Darkness and Light

December 19, 2012 1 comment

darknessandlightThe other night, I sat at church and watched the Christmas concert for my sons’ Catholic school.  I watched with an overflowing heart as my kindergartner and my big first grader sang, one with a giant smile on his face, the other studiously singing the words as he seemed to be scanning the audience.  They stood among their friends and classmates, all of them decked out in their Christmas best. They were the very faces and minds and pureness of the innocence that the Christmas season promises every year.  Their equally well dressed parents, friends and teachers watched and reflected the children’s excitement.  It was a building that, even before the concert started, was rumbling in the excited talk and laughter of the children and parents alike, to the point where a member of the faculty had to remind all of where we were. It was a building filled with such joy.

And it was a night that was dedicated the the victims and families of the Sandy Hook Elementary School tragedy.  It seemed like such an appropriate tribute.

Like much of the country and all decent human beings, I have desperately struggled against the sadness of this senseless attack.  It’s a sadness, I think, that may lie in our souls for a long time. A sadness that will fall to the depths of the scars that we all still feel from September 11, 2001. A friend of mine  recently talked how she will be walking around happy, having a good time and then think about what happened and instantly be filled with panic and sadness. I think it is a range of emotions that many of us share. As a parent, the thought of what those parents of those innocents are going through is unbearable.  It is impossible to not project those losses into our own lives and families.

My sons are the joys of my life. I have no doubt in my mind that the reason I am on this earth is to be Benjamin and Matthew’s father and to do all I can to give them a happy life.  If I accomplish nothing else in life except to raise two happy, loving boys into two happy, loving men then my life will have been a success.  The thought that one person in a single instant could wipe that all out is terrifying.  That fact that one man did exactly that to so many families has me living in a perpetual heart break.

In the days since the attack, I have found myself relishing in my sons’ laughter, love and even pestering.  I find myself just starring at them in wonder.  However, there are times when I need to turn away from them to hide tears because, it is hard to watch them without feeling a sense of remorse and guilt for all those fathers in Newtown that have lost their joys. I guess it is a sort of survivors guilt, even though my sons were secure and safe, hundreds of miles away.  I take some comfort in my belief that those 26 souls have made their way to heaven, but I mourn the hell that has been left behind in Newtown.  The fact that it is Christmas, the season that is suppose to be all about the children, these feelings get amplified to the point where I just want to take down the Christmas decorations and move on.

Of course, that is not possible because it is the season of children and forgetting that and not celebrating our children would not be honoring the memories of those lost.  For now, I keep my grief hidden away from them and do my best to repair my heart with their laughter.

I am doing all I can to make this the best Christmas my sons have ever had as some small way to honor the families of the victims.  It is a dark Christmas for them which makes me feel like I need to do more to make our Christmas brighter.  I’ve become more patient with them, taking time to help them fix the LEGO village under the tree that they destroyed.  I have stopped doing far less important things to check out how the Christmas pig is riding the crane (don’t ask). Last night, I walked into the family room where the TV was still on and saw a message on the screen that it was about to power down because there was no activity for four hours because we were all upstairs playing and talking and laughing.  The pile of presents from Santa in the basement seems to have doubled since last Friday.  There is little I can do for those Newtown families, but there is so much I can do for my own.

During the concert, the principal, used the metaphor of the children being the brightest lights in this world, and that is so true.

So often, we face evil and sadness and pain in this world. So often, there are people that suffer and struggle in the darkness that sometimes seems to dominate this world.  When the darkness lashes out at the tiniest, most innocent, yet brightest lights in our world, the sadness becomes that much more profound.

We struggle for answers on how to battle the shadows that live in people’s souls. I am sure the answer lies only partly somewhere between the polarized sides of the gun debate and how we help the mentally ill in this country.  I know that the biggest part of the answer lies in that raucous building of children, educators and parents and in similar buildings around this nation and this world.  Whether it be a church, temple, mosque, a kitchen table, a mud hut or any place that people gather in love and joy, embracing hope and faith.  It doesn’t matter if that faith is in God (or gods), science or ourselves.  We fight the darkness by passing that faith, hope and love on to the children with the hope that the next generation will grow up in a better, brighter world.

During the concert, I also found myself staring at my sons’ teachers and the rest of the school’s faculty.  I really wanted to go up and hug each one of them, because I don’t doubt the love they have for our children and what they do.  Many are parents themselves and I can only imagine what a painful time it must be for them.  Yet, there they were, smiling and laughing and celebrating our children.  May God bless them and educators everywhere and may God watch over our children and the families of Sandy Hook.

New Bed Time Song

July 2, 2012 Leave a comment

I usually try not to get the kids to riled up at bed time, but the other night, my improvised bed time song got Ben and Matt all sorts of laughing:

Ole McDonald had a farm,

Ee I ee I oh!

And on that farm he had some cows,

Ee I ee I oh.

With a moo-moo here and a moo-moo there,

Here a moo, there a moo, everywhere a moo-moo.

Ole McDonald had a farm,

Ee I ee I oh!

And on that farm he had some pigs,

Ee I ee I oh.

With a oink-oink here and an oink-oink there,

Here an oink, there an oink, everywhere an oink-oink.

Ole McDonald had a farm,

Ee I ee I oh!

And on that farm he had a Rancor,

Ee I ee I oh.

With a ROAR here and a ROAR there,

Here a ROAR, there a ROAR, everywhere a *Splat*.

My Star Wars obsessed boys loved it and I heard them giggling for the next twenty minutes as they tried putting other Star Wars creatures into the song.  They didn’t remember that I did the same, but with a T-Rex when they were dinosaur obsessed.

I love making them laugh.