Wednesday, October 21, 2009

The Mourning After

"There's nothing fair about who lives and who dies". This was a great line from a terrible movie when Kurt Russell's character uttered it in the horrible remake of the Poseidon Adventure. But, the line has resonated with me ever since. I find myself repeating it every time I or someone I care about loses someone close to them. There's nothing fair about who lives and who dies. I've been thinking about this a lot lately. I sometimes look at my family and am amazed by how many we've lost. I mean, gosh, I'm only in my early 40's and I think I've been to more family funerals then wedding in the past 20 years. I'm not kidding. I sometimes think I've had it hard or bad and get all "why me (us)"??? But then, as I listen to other people's losses I realize quite simply there is nothing fair about who lives and who dies. We are born with the inevitability that we are all going to die and how we cope with it determines how we live our lives

There is nothing harder to cope with then loss of a loved one. It is however the way we cope with loss that defines who we are. When you lose someone you hear it all. "I'm sorry for your loss", "they're in a better place", "their suffering is over" and the like. People who love us tell us this to make us feel better about our loss. In my humble opinion, it doesn't help. However, knowing people care about you and how you're feeling does help. You cry, you mourn, you cry some more, you feel sorry for yourself, you go through the period of overwhelming guilt, and you cry some more. Then its time to move along

I'm not being cold, hard, or callous but simply put you need to get on with life. Those with an inability to do so end up end up spending the rest of their lives amongst the dead instead of the living. In fact, I'd think it the ultimate disrespect for the person you lost if they knew you were structuring your days around missing them. The best way to honor the dead is to go on living. It's a fine line between mourning and remorse but everyone deals with loss differently. You need to let go of the guilt often associated with death of a close one that is sometimes known as survivors remorse. Even in those rare cases when someone feels it was their fault, at the end of the day you have no control over the grand scheme of who lives and who dies. The bottom line is there is NOTHING fair about who lives and who dies but the living must go on with their lives

I'm not the same person I was before living through so many losses. I know this. I think part of me is better through loss. I like to think I've taken something from everyone I've lost and bettered myself with it. The literal negative into a positive. In the end life is tenuous at best and all of us will have our number come up some day, hopefully later then sooner. It's what we do with the time we have on earth that truly makes life worth living. So, no, there is nothing fair about who lives and who dies but it is our ability to cope with these devastating losses that make us who we are to our family and friends.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Thankk You for Being a Friend

From July 07. Another one of those me defining things in my world kind of things.

Defining what a friend is can be difficult as people all have different ideas of what a friend is and how to be a friend. I guess the simplest definition would be a person who means a lot to you and vice-versa but is not related to you either by birth or marriage. Well, that is not always true as I have sisters and a mother who are amongst my best friend's and, realistically, unless things have gone to hell, your significant other should be amongst your best friends. As someone mostly always single and likely to be, friends are very important to me. More important at this point then any relationship I might find myself in. This could change but I also think it's just what I'm used to as I'd at this point rather spend casual, fun, good times with my friend's then the awkwardness of starting a new whatever. Rather then go on a long boring rant I will use the ever popular list format to define what a friend is to me.

A friend is someone you would do anything for as long as it didn't go against your personal beliefs or morals. (And sometimes even then). To wit, a friend would never ask you to do anything that would compromise your personal beliefs of morals.

A friend is someone you think of during the course of every day somehow. You may not realize it but this is true. Nary a day goes by I don't have a thought, memory, or mind jog that doesn't remind me of one of my friends

Friendship, to me, is earned not just claimed. I've always hated how on Myspace or Facebook you add "friends". To me you add people who may or may not become friends. I'm an easy guy to like and get to know and have an uncanny sense of people's true character but still, you need do more then know me to become my friend. I have people I rarely see who are friend's, people I see all the time who aren't and in a few, rare cases, people I've never met in the flesh (so to speak) who are.

A friend is someone who, no matter how long it's been since you've spoken or seen each other, you are never uncomfortable towards or at a loss of words with.

A friend knows when to talk, when to listen, and when to say nothing at all

A friend is capable of putting you in front of them when it is called for. A person who only needs someone when they are distressed or when it benefits them is a one-way friend. This is something I cannot tolerate. Life is give and take and being a real friend means you are there for your friends when they need you, not only when you need them. I absolutely hate people incapable of adding anything to a friendship

A friend would never lie to you even if it were "for your own good". That's a breach in trust and therefore breaking the friendship

A friend is like a husband or wife in that they are there for better or worse, through sickness and health and all that other marital crap

A friend would never let a relationship ruin a friendship. Period. It may be altered but never ruined.

A friend can say "I love (small L) you" without feeling stupid

Friendship and loyalty go hand in hand (see first statement)

Friends would put themselves in harms way to protect you. I know I always say I'd take a bullet for a friend and while I hope I never have to, I honestly think I would.

You cannot hold a long grudge with someone who is or was a true friend unless they did something completely egregious or physically harmful to you or your family. The way I figure is some small indiscretion, no matter how major it seems at the time, cannot undo what made you friends to start with

A friend knows what you're thinking or what your mood is without even having to ask

I could go on and on but won't. I guess my bottom line is it isn't much work to be a friend but to be a good friend takes some effort. We've all had selfish, one way, shitty friends and have all probably been selfish, one way, shitty friends. I've been blessed with some great friends. I realized this past year people I long considered friends really weren't as looking back over time they never once went out of their way for me and only needed me for their own ends. Fine, seeya, don't let the door hit your ass on the way out. I also had acquaintances become some of my closest friends and have made several new friends. Life is just like that. A wise man once told me high school friends would always be friends by friends you make after would be friends for life. That hasn't been 100% true but has merit. I've come to realize my place in life is to be a friend and I think I do it pretty darn well. I might never be a great boyfriend, lover, husband, or father but to know I'm a good friend, faults and all, I can live with that!

Please excuse the lame...ok, I actually love it for it's lameness... Andrew Gold song in the title

Thursday, October 15, 2009

The Decline Of Western Civilization

From October 2006. Certainly a lot less intense and introspective then the last few I've re-posted. Hope you enjoy it

I always wondered if I’d recognize what’s wrong with the word if I saw it. The other day I stared it right in the face; Abercrombie & Fitch. This company once legendary as supplier of top end outdoor gear has become a showcase for what society has become; image is everything, thin is in, and beautiful people are better then non-beautiful people. OK, it’s not as bad as I let on, but cripes, did I feel out of place.

I needed to go to A & F to pick up a gift card for someone obviously younger then me. So I set off to the Burlington (MA) Mall to get it done. At first I thought it was closed for renovations as all the display windows were covered by something resembling storm shutters. However I realized the rumbling electronica music I was hearing was not from the mall sound system but coming from A & F. So, I warily step into the open doors and the music is, frankly, deafening. I’m not being some old prude when I say this as I have attended concerts and been to clubs that would make your ears bleed. But, for a retail store, it was ridiculous. So, I proceed to find a register and sales associate to get my gift card and get the fuck out of there. Well, apparently you need to be a size 1 to work there as a woman and have wavy hair and abs as a guy. The first 2 I encountered couldn’t even look up from their convo to acknowledge my fat ass. So, I wandered aimlessly until I found a counter with someone working (another size 1 apparently). I waited 5 minutes for her to fold 2 pair of pants into a bag and cash out the young couple in front of me. I tell her I need a gift card for $100. She says “what?” over the din of the afore mentioned music. So I repeat, I need a gift card for $100. And she says “oh, sure a gift card, for how much”. I roll my eyes and say, um, $100? Now I am instructed to pick out a gift card. My choices are two hot women, a guy and girl kissing, what appeared to be 2 guys about to kiss, etc. So I pick one and hand it to her and she asks “so, how much do you want the gift card for”?

There is no moral to this story. The place simply made me feel old, fat, and out of place. So, pretty much it was reality. I guess more then anything it bothered me that it so flew in the face of the “rules of retail” yet is one of the most successful clothing retailers on the planet. You simply don’t cover your display windows, don’t play music so loud you need to repeat yourself constantly, and you don’t ignore customers and remain successful. Yet, A & F not only flourishes but also has become a pop culture icon. Maybe I’m just plain getting old and out of touch, well, actually I am and I’m not sure it bothers me

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Tilting at Windmills

This was also from Fall of 2007. Probably written under the same circumstances as the "hypocrisy" blog. Maybe I reached my creative peak in 2007?? Pretty introspective really

The expression tilting at windmills or more commonly, fighting windmills, is derived from the tales of Cervantes legendary Don Quixote and his delusion filled life as a chivalric knight doing good deeds for no other reason then the glory of it and/or the love of a woman who more then likely didn’t exist. The problem was that what he fought wasn’t real and those he helped didn’t need or want it. Most notably was when he told loyal companion Sancho Panza his intent to fight those “giants” only to have Sancho point out they were not giants but simply windmills. Undaunted and unbelieving, Quixote fought the hapless windmill to a draw. Tilting at windmills has since become a euphemism for anyone fighting an imaginary enemy or fighting for something that simply doesn’t exist. While most considered Quixote a fool there is something simple, noble and brave about him and his approach to life and what is important to him.

For the past several years I’ve been tilting at windmills more then I care to admit. I let my most endearing traits (at least I hope so haha), which are also my fatal flaws, of loyalty, friendship, and love cloud my judgment and led to me fighting my own windmills. And yes, despite the efforts of many of my own personal Sancho’s, I’ve continued to believe things to be what they aren’t, never were, and likely never will be. I’ve longed and wished and hoped and tried but no amount of wishing, hoping, or positive thinking could make my delusions a reality. Things simply are what they are and it’s high time I realized this. In life, quite simply, no matter what your level of loyalty, friendship, or love, if that isn’t returned, to some above average degree, then keep lining up those windmills for us to run headlong into. I feel like the fool that most people labeled Quixote but sometimes wonder if there isn’t something noble and chivalric about the way I treat those I care about despite the hurt that comes along with these feelings often not reciprocated.

I’m not saying I won’t still hope and dream. Hell, I’m one of the biggest dreamers I know and always will be. If we didn’t dream what would be the point of dragging our sorry asses out of bed every day? What I need to do better is separate truth from fiction, delusion from reality and those that truly care for me from those only capable of caring for themselves. I have often said if you lower your expectations you’ll never be disappointed. Well, that’s cynical even for me and I don’t want to live that way any more. I need to spend more time in the “real” world and less time in the hopeful, pretend, wish-it-could-be world. Mostly I need to be a better judge of people and situations. All that said, by and large I like myself, my set of morals and values so that’s not likely to change.

My name is Rich and I’m a windmill tilter. I’m not sure if that’s a good or bad thing but for better or worse it’s who I am.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Taking the Hypocritic Oath

From September 2007; I think this was far and away the longest blog I had written to date. As I re-read it there were some obvious run ones etc but the gist of the story reads true. From the tone of the story I was venting my spleen about relationships. Go figure

I'm going to tell it like it is when I tell you each and every one of us is a hypocrite. There is no getting around it. In fact, most people are hypocritical in some way, sort or fashion nearly every day. You shake your head at the ill behaved children at the table next to yours while out eating and then let your own kids run wild. You support your political party until as such a time as they support something that goes against you. You get angry when no kindly person will let you pull out in to traffic and yet when the opportunity arises for you to do the same you pretend you don't see them. Stop and think for a minute. You know it's true.

In reality life is hypocrisy. Nearly everything that happens in the course of the day we are hypocritical of or someone is hypocritical (or maybe just plain critical) of us. We go to church then lie, steal and do lord knows what else. We wear sealskin boots to a save the whales rally. We recycle everything paper or plastic in our homes and drive S.U.V.'s that get 1 mile to the gallon. There is simply no way to avoid it. We tsk tsk about our friends not visiting sick parents enough until we are in the same situation. We talk behind the back about the youngster showing up at work a wreck from drinking the night before and seem to forget all the times in the past (maybe even the present) we showed up in similar or worse condition. We are walking talking fleshy bags of hypocrisy.

I think where most of us are hypocrites is when it comes to relationships. Be it friends, family, or significant others we all say one thing then do just the opposite so often. How often does "til death do us part" actually hold up? We say, "I love you" and weeks later we aren't speaking. We say, "We'll always be friends" and haven't communicated in months. We'll never let a relationship stand in the way of your friends then we can't talk anymore because he/she doesn't like it and we can't find time for our best friends. We love being single and hate being tied down and checking in with someone at every turn then we can't make a move asking him/her. We are hypercritical (notice the spelling) about someone cheating on someone then turn around and do the same if it benefits us. You're even hypocritical about being hypocritical. We all know (or have been) the person who "hates people who drop their friends when they get in a relationship. I'd never do that" then, of course at the first opportunity does. Sorry people, in some way we're all guilty as charged.

The bottom line is life makes hypocrites of us all. Things change. Shit happens. Life changes and evolves so what was true yesterday may not hold up until tomorrow. There's no way around it. Being hypocritical is different then lying (a blog for another day) in that at the time you state something you likely think it's true. I'm not singling out any person or persons nor pointing fingers because if I were I'd be pointing in the mirror. You were happy being single until mr./miss right came along. You meant, "til death do us part" until you're spouse did something simply inconsolable. You meant, "I love you" until you realized you didn't mean it. You never thought you'd let a relationship get in the way of your friend but you did. You honestly thought having kids wouldn't change what you did and whom you did it with (this also probably falls into the ignorance category). You meant to be friends forever but both people's lives got too busy. A new job, a death in the family, a car accident, moving, marriage, divorce, kids, etc. Every one of these things can affect what was once true that no longer is. Very few people can truly live up to their word forever and honestly, can they be expected to?

I've tried hard to not be too hypocritical myself by trying to choose my words and actions wisely but like I said, shit happens. I have let friend's drift away on the one hand and on the other I told a girl to hit the bricks when I was to decide between her and my best friend. Sorry toots, no contest there. I am happy being single and will holler it to the heavens but I met someone who almost changed my mind. Almost. I've only said "I love you" to anyone once and meant it. Still do. I've said I'd take a bullet for a true friend and meant it. So, I'm going out on a limb. Mark this date and these words. I will most likely be single forever and am happy about that. I will never lose my friends over a woman. I will always have time for my friends no matter how seriously I get involved with anyone. I will never cheat on someone I'm in a relationship with. I will always be there for my true friends and family no matter how far we seem to have drifted and no matter what they need me for. I actually think I can do this (most likely as the first statement kind of negates the most of the rest) and if I can't, gentle readers, I want you to rain down upon me with great vengeance and furious anger

Monday, October 12, 2009

The Musical Question

From September 2006; This has been a fascination of mine and an inside joke since summers on the Cape in the early 90's and the subject of many a hungover breakfast

Musicals are those strange worlds where at the drop of the hat people go from speaking and moving normally to singing and dancing to express their feelings. Everyone’s seen Grease, Singing in the Rain, Chicago, the Music Man, the Wizard of Oz, or more recently, High School Musical. Did you ever stop to notice the bit players tho? You know, the ones who have little to do with the main characters but join in the singing and dancing because they are obligate to do so? It’s simply the law of Musical Land. So, it got me to thinking, what if life WAS a musical??

I think it would be aggravating as hell. I mean, sure, if it’s you singing out and all those around you are joining in the singing and dancing that’s pretty cool. But when you have to join in and you’re simply not in the mood, it’s got to suck! Let’s say you’re running late to work. You speed all the way there, get to the parking lot and as soon as you get out…bang, a musical number breaks out. Now you spend 10 minutes dancing on the hood of your car using your briefcase as an impromptu prop in a large production number. When it ends you rush in to your waiting boss with an explanation and he’s like, “well, that’s the 3rd musical this week”. Or you wake up and have 2 large black coffees and a bran muffin and a musical breaks out. You’re doing cartwheels, splits and back flips all the time just trying to hold your mud. Or you’re having a casual swim at the Y and a musical breaks out forcing you into a Busby Berkley-like giant 50 person synchronized swimming number. These are all real and grave possibilities if life was a musical.

I think in some ways, all those aggravations aside, maybe the world would be a better place. Gang fights become giant dance routines. Heartache is handled with a song and not tears. Most of all, just by being nearby, your singing, dancing, and acrobatic skills increase exponentially if only for a short period of time. Well, we’ll probably never know…oh crap, the guy I work with who’s having house issues just broke out into song…better limber up!

Celebrating Mediocrity

In the new tradition of rewarding anyone who does anything (you know, ribbons and trophies for anyone who participates...don't want any bruised egos) I am hereby throwing myself an anniversary celebration. That's right, on a beautiful October day in 2004 I actually starting posting my drivel that only those that have the unfortunate experience of sitting next to me at a bar used to have to endure. I've been blogging here since February of 2005 but started my first foray into blogging on my now dormant Myspace page the October before that. There has been long gaps in between posts at times but I've stuck to it knowing very few people actually read it. So, as a celebration in mediocrity, I am going to re-post some of MY favorite blogs from the past five years (likely skipping anything from the past 6 months). If I can remember, I'll try and explain where I was at in my mind when I wrote it.

So whether reading for the first time or if you're that lone person who's seen them before I hope you enjoy these posts even 1% as much as I had coming up with them!