Clinker

Most of the time I’m able to let the daily bullshit and banter sift through the cranial grates inside my cue ball noggin but on occasion I get a difficult clinker that won’t pass through.
I have to take it out and look at it and figure out why I can’t mentally digest it.
Case in point: the other night I was surfing the net for the latest in the way of books on Alzheimer’s disease; a simple and innocent task, right?
Imagine my surprise (and horror) to find a book titled “Alzheimer’s for Dummies”.
Needless to say, my searching was over for the night.
I’d found a seriously incongruous clinker that fueled my rage against the literary machine.
I was livid.
This was a subject much too close to home for me and to see it reduced to a ‘manual for dummies’ format personally devastated me.

“Dummies” manuals cover a range of topics: Chess, Poker, MSWord, Windows Vista and Grammar, to name but a few.
But Alzheimer’s disease?
Personally, it was unthinkable.

Why not “Breast Cancer for Dummies”?
How would that go over?
Believe me, I know.
I’ve lost too many friends to the disease and I would be outraged at the total lack of compassion and sensitivity used in publishing such a book.

Never mind.
What the hell is going on here?
I must be losing my mind.

I’ve checked out the contents of the AFD book and I’ve no doubt the author’s intentions were good.
But . . .
So this is what’s it’s come to?
Christ in a sidecar, I’m almost speechless here.
File this one under “roll up that manual and insert forcefully into your keester, sideways“.
But maybe there’s a “Dummies” guide for that as well.
Hey, if ICHC can get a book deal, why the hell not these buttmonkeys?
IMHO, those suffering from this disease deserve an apology from these inconsiderate ‘Dummie’ assholes.
Do I know what I’m talking about here?
Yes, I think I do.
All too well . . .

~m

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Norm Abrams, I'm not

I’ve been promising my wife that I’d put together a cabinet for the kitchen.
She bought it several weeks ago and everytime I’d walk through the kitchen I swear I could hear “baaaawk, baaaawk . . . “coming from inside the box.
Its purpose was supposedly going to reduce some of the cabinet clutter and organize the pot and “pandemonium” wreaking havoc in the heart of our home.

How hard could it be to put together a small and innocent antique cabinet?

I’m no Norm Abrams, alright? Building things just isn’t my thing (stop laughing, Laho).

I consider myself a reasonably intelligent man but when an inanimate object begins making a monkey out of me, I have a problem.
I should have known better when I spied the little gold oval sticker proudly proclaiming “made in China” on all 76 pieces.

Assembling this hunk of shit (from the directions given) was worse than trying to comprehend quantum physics.
I seriously think the Chinese are out to get us, all of us.

Said directions were a series of “exploded” pictures; no words or explanations, just pictures . . . all 14 of them. Bastards.

Does the term 3-D puzzle of wood mean anything to you?

The cabinet was mainly black and I almost went frickin’ blind trying to screw this thing together. The phone starts ringing, I spill my coffee, I gotta take a crap and one of the cats starts throwing up a hunk of the Styrofoam packing this thing came in and I’m only Step #1.
I only have 13 more to go.
Please shoot me.
Point the gun at my brain stem and mercifully pull the trigger.
End my pain.

I think about throwing the damn directions away but err on the side of caution and instead start talking dirty to the sad looking unassembled pieces still littering the kitchen table. Things start clicking and I’m beginning to enjoy the dirty talk.

By the time I was finished (2 hours later) I look Chinese, well, my eyes do anyway.

Some people really have a talent for this building shit.
Not me.
I say pay another 20 bucks and let some other choad go Oriental.
I’m an artist, damn it, not Norm Abrams.

~m

Norm Abrams, I’m not

I’ve been promising my wife that I’d put together a cabinet for the kitchen.
She bought it several weeks ago and everytime I’d walk through the kitchen I swear I could hear “baaaawk, baaaawk . . . “coming from inside the box.
Its purpose was supposedly going to reduce some of the cabinet clutter and organize the pot and “pandemonium” wreaking havoc in the heart of our home.

How hard could it be to put together a small and innocent antique cabinet?

I’m no Norm Abrams, alright? Building things just isn’t my thing (stop laughing, Laho).

I consider myself a reasonably intelligent man but when an inanimate object begins making a monkey out of me, I have a problem.
I should have known better when I spied the little gold oval sticker proudly proclaiming “made in China” on all 76 pieces.

Assembling this hunk of shit (from the directions given) was worse than trying to comprehend quantum physics.
I seriously think the Chinese are out to get us, all of us.

Said directions were a series of “exploded” pictures; no words or explanations, just pictures . . . all 14 of them. Bastards.

Does the term 3-D puzzle of wood mean anything to you?

The cabinet was mainly black and I almost went frickin’ blind trying to screw this thing together. The phone starts ringing, I spill my coffee, I gotta take a crap and one of the cats starts throwing up a hunk of the Styrofoam packing this thing came in and I’m only Step #1.
I only have 13 more to go.
Please shoot me.
Point the gun at my brain stem and mercifully pull the trigger.
End my pain.

I think about throwing the damn directions away but err on the side of caution and instead start talking dirty to the sad looking unassembled pieces still littering the kitchen table. Things start clicking and I’m beginning to enjoy the dirty talk.

By the time I was finished (2 hours later) I look Chinese, well, my eyes do anyway.

Some people really have a talent for this building shit.
Not me.
I say pay another 20 bucks and let some other choad go Oriental.
I’m an artist, damn it, not Norm Abrams.

~m

Nine Eleven

I remember the day vividly; there were crystal blue skies, warm and ample sunshine, comfortable temperatures, a picture perfect fall day in New England.

The date was September 11, 2001 and I was just getting into work (selling pianos at the time) when the phone rang.
It was my friend Colin, a piano technician from the store where I worked calling to tell me he’d heard on the radio that a plane had just flew into the World Trade Center in NYC.
It must have been a terrible accident we both agreed, a freakish malfunction of an old turbine perhaps, a minor incident but nevertheless a tragic loss of life of strangers neither of us would probably ever know.
At the time, it seemed safer thinking of it that way.
It was a small plane, Colin said and that made me feel better.
Fewer people meant fewer casualties in a city the size of New York.

 

After I hung up the phone, it occurred to me that something didn’t seem quite right about the conversation. Couldn’t put my finger on it but something was wrong.
I knew it and Colin knew it, we just didn’t want to say it.

I mean, planes just don’t fly into buildings, do they?

My question was promptly answered when the phone rang 15 minutes later.
It was Colin again sounding a bit nervous.

Another plane? Jesus Christ, what the hell is going on? I asked.

He went on to tell me that both of the towers were hit and that it looked like we were at war.

War? I thought, With who?

I went outside and looked up into the sky for a sign that the world was still alright and all I saw was the endless crystal blue of the atmosphere but I noticed something else; there was an eerie stillness and silence hanging in the balance.

Word got around quickly that the US had been attacked as we began adding words to our daily lexicon: WTC, 9-11, Atta, Al Qaida, Al-Jazeera . . .

The dark truths would begin to bleed through the seemingly impenetrable fabric of our lives virtually changing all of us, forever.

The phones started ringing at the store . . . but not from customers.
The calls were from wives to husbands, sons to mothers, sisters to brothers – with one simple question; are you okay?
By noontime the phones stopped ringing and business ceased as the United States was brought to its very knees.

I can’t help but think of the same three words I thought on that horrible day: God Help Us

 

I still pray for all that we lost that day; the brilliant lives, our {unjustifiable} innocence and our shattered sense of {false} security.
We were too blind for far too long.

My words describing that day are still woefully inadequate but my thoughts and feelings of incomprehensibility are still so incredibly tender and raw.

I want badly to forgive but I still can’t.

God Bless all those we lost.

As Annie said, turn those headlights on . . .

~m

A small, insignificant and relatively stinky Haiku for Bob

How come you so big?

You scare my wife and keetons

Bobby try diet . . .

Sarah informed us that Bob would be returning for a few days.
His stay will be mercifully brief because he’s outta here on Sunday morning when we bring her back to school. {excuse me, college}
Bob is currently residing in the hallway upstairs.
I found that out last night (1:34am) when I was needlessly mugged by a dark-hooded Hollister sweatshirt on my way to the bathroom.

My only thought today was where in God’s name did the summer go?

I’ve already noticed a few brave trees offering up their chlorophyll, preparation for a special place on the ever popular New England Autumnal Palette.
The hands of time are moving too damn fast for me these days.
I just said ‘hello’ to summer and now I’m sadly saying ‘goodbye’.

And I hate that.

I really, really do.

Relinquishing my sacred seat on the porch has never been easy.
I used to love the fall but even that has changed for me; probably because the autumnal equinox is the natural pre-cursor to the personal arctic abomination I now refer to as “freekin’ winter”.

The past few days have kicked my ass but the computer is once again up and running and the ‘blue screen of death’ is but mere memory. Ahh . . . .
And thank my lucky stars because I can already hear Bob calling me for more space.

I promise to catch up on my “comment absence” by early next week.

keep the faith,

~m

PS. Happy Birthday, LiHo!!!!!!

When a telemarketer calls

Found this floating around the Internet.
I shuddered at the thought of no one ever being able to use some of these.
Bet you can’t wait for the phone to ring now, eh?
Just sharing the love.

~m

1. If they want to loan you money, tell them you just filed for bankruptcy and you could sure use some money.

2. If they start out with, “How are you today?” say, “I’m so glad you asked, because no one these days seems to care, and I have all these problems. My arthritis is acting up, my eyelashes are sore, my dog just died . . . ”

3. If they say they’re John Doe from XYZ Company, ask them to spell their name. Then ask them to spell the company name. Then ask them where it is located, how long it has been in business, how many people work there, how they got into this line of work if they are married, how many kids they have, etc. Continue asking them personal questions or questions about their company for as long as necessary.

4. This works great if you are male. Telemarketer: “Hi, my name is Judy and I’m with XYZ Company.” You: Wait for a second and with a real husky voice ask, “What are you wearing?”

5. Cry out in surprise, “Judy? Is that you? Oh my God! Judy, how have you been?” Hopefully, this will give Judy a few brief moments of terror as she tries to figure out where she could know you from.

6. Say “No” over and over. Be sure to vary the sound of each one, and keep a rhythmic tempo, even as they are trying to speak. This is most fun if you can do it until they hang up.

7. If MCI calls trying to get you to sign up for the Family and Friends Plan, reply, in as sinister a voice as you can, “I don’t have any friends, would you be my friend?”

8. If the company cleans rugs, respond: “Can you get out blood? Can you get out goat blood? How about human blood?”

9. After the Telemarketer gives his or her spiel, ask him or her to marry you. When they get all flustered, tell them that you can’t just give your credit card number to a complete stranger.

10. Tell the Telemarketer that you work for the same company, and they can’t sell to employees.

11. Answer the phone. As soon as you realize it is a Telemarketer, set the receiver down, scream, “Oh my God!” and then hang up.

12. Tell the Telemarketer you are busy at the moment and ask him/her if he/she will give you his/her home phone number so you can call him/her back. When the Telemarketer explains that telemarketers
cannot give out their home numbers say, “I guess you don’t want anyone bothering you at home, right?”
The Telemarketer will agree and you say, “Me either!”
Then hang up.

13. Ask them to repeat everything they say, several times.

14. Tell them it is dinner time, but ask if they would please hold. Put them on your speaker phone while you continue to eat at your leisure. Smack your food loudly and continue with your dinner conversation.

15. Tell the Telemarketer you are on “home incarceration” and ask if they could bring you some beer.

16. Ask them to fax the information to you, and make up a number.

17. Tell the Telemarketer, “Okay, I’ll listen to you. But I should probably tell you, I’m not wearing any clothes.”

18. Insist that the caller is really your buddy Leon, playing a joke. “Come on, Leon, cut it out! Seriously, Leon, how’s your momma?”

19. Tell them you are hard of hearing and that they need to speak up . . . louder . . . louder . . .

20. Tell them to talk very slowly, because you want to write every word down.

Don Imus + Censorship= Death by Termination

We have a shrinking polar ice cap that will someday make the state of Florida a semi-tropical island, homeless shelters packed to the gills with invisible people that society doesn’t want, babies dying of hunger every 7 seconds,
pets dying from tainted pet food and enough plutonium to blow
this planet to Kingdom Come and yet we choose to focus our time and energy on three stupid words taken out of context because they hurt somebody’s feelings.
Maybe that’s just the tip of the proverbial iceburg but personally, it feels much greater than that.

Freedom of speech will soon be a subject found only in History books if we don’t watch ourselves. With the head of Don Imus now securely set on a fresh green lettuce leaf in the middle of the media platter, I can’t help but feel this was a witchhunt instigated by the likes of many including Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson, two political gasbags that need more of a muzzling than Imus.
These two jamokes have done just as much damage to the notion of equality, racial harmony and justice as the talk show host they’ve now successfully crucified.
The thought of forgiveness hasn’t even entered the equation.
And they’re both men of the cloth, right?
Does Imus deserve termination and eternal damnation?
His track record seems to indicate that he’s definitely borderline.
But at what cost?
He’ll be on satellite radio by next week anyway.
We’ve all lost something here.
Maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, maybe not even next year but we’ve lost something. Everyday it seems another insignificant personal freedom goes on hiatus and we’re too caught up in politically correct semantics to take notice.
I did get a chuckle when I read a quote from a Rutgers Junior regarding the ‘Ho’ fiasco.
She said, “This has scarred me for life.”
WTF?
Please stop.
You’re killing me.
Get off the cross, someone else needs the wood.
What Imus said was disgraceful and uncalled for but ‘scarred for life’?
With the amount of hypocrisy witnessed in the media and society these days, you ain’t seen nothin’ yet.
I’ll be shaking my head over this one for a while.
Somebody pinch me, Imus be dreaming. . .

~m

Trust me

This is something of a public service announcement regarding people I just can’t seem to trust. I’m not sure why this got written but maybe it has something to do with flaming pink hats.

Here’s a list of people I can’t trust. Ever.

*Anyone that wears sunglasses at night.
Sometimes it’s a celebrity and sometimes it’s just a schmuck I pass on the way to South Station. If the sun has fallen far below the horizon and all the cars have on their headlights, lose the shades. You look like a jamoke and therefore can’t be trusted.

*People that smile a lot.
Alright, this one is a bit sketchy but just think about it.
I saw a guy staring aimlessly at a TV (tuned to CNN) perched on a shelf in a storefront window on Boylston Street.
In a nutshell, the programming make-up of CNN is this:
War-Death-Famine-Ominous Meteorological Phenomena and Cancer (repeat 24/7)
This guy is staring at the streaming CNN images and guess what?
Yep, he’s smiling.
A walking head wound and definitely can’t be trusted.
In a city like Boston, smiling zombies are everywhere if you just look.

*Guys that wear pink hats.
I saw a guy wearing one just the other day, I swear to God.
I could never trust a guy like that to even wash my truck windshield.

*Muscle-bound guys that habitually work out at the gym
They grunt, fart loud enough to raise the floorboards and make those nasty ‘faces of death’.
Hey buddy, you wanna point that cannon of yours in a different direction?
And if self-image is worth more to you than that Stanley Steamer you just dropped in your trunks, I wouldn’t trust you as far as you could throw me.
Oh, and nice manboobs, too.
Sheesh…
I do admire the fact that these guys are so damn dedicated.
I draw the line when it seems imperative that I exert myself to a point where an internal organ shoots out of the closest orifice just to belong to ‘the club’.


*Any woman that says (as she’s walking into and bargain basement department store) “I’ll be out in five minutes.”

Come on, ladies.
How dumb do you think we are? Do not answer that.
In this instance, women can’t be trusted.

*Anyone that votes for Sanjaya,
and his asinine ‘pony-hawk’, obvious lack of talent and absurdly white teeth just to keep him on American Idol.
That’s just absurd.
What’s the point?
Sanjaya voters suck.
Period.

*Poodles, Chihuahuas and any other small dog that would easily fit inside a casserole dish.
These dogs are nervous and jumpy.
Actually, they’re not animals folks, they’re appetizers.
And I hate when they hump things…like a piece of furniture or worse. . . my leg.
Because they have a brain smaller in size than a walnut, you can’t trust them.
You never know when they’ll snap and go psycho.

*Expressholes
These are the folks that go through the ’10 items or less’ line with a week’s worth of whatever happens to be on sale that day.
Watch them at a busy deli counter too.
They’ve been known to make up numbers.

This is obviously a partial list and I invite you to add a few of your own.
You may even see a sequel.
Then again, I don’t know if I trust myself enough to write one.

~m

GO

I’ve waited over 8 years to write this.
My mind just wouldn’t let me do it I guess.
Maybe that’s the way it was supposed to be.
I got a bit misty eyed during the writing of this.
Just a warning.

If you’re new to this blog you may want to read THIS first.
“Home” is the precursor to this entry.

 

 

I don’t remember the exact day we physically moved my mother out of the house but I remember how blue the sky was that day.
It was a brutally beautiful day and one that still haunts me emotionally.
My mother never saw it coming, I’m convinced of that.
To this day, it still feels like I was selling her soul to Satan; a sale that desperately needed to happen, for her sake and my father’s as well.

I told myself it was for her safety, her best interest, the fact that my father could no longer watch over and care for her, any reason that would validate my personal termination of her current residence.

My sister and I had previously moved many of her belongings to her room in the waiting facility; the only thing left to move was my mother.

Getting her into the car was no problem, bringing her into the facility was even easier. But leaving her there and walking out the auto-locking door would be a very difficult thing to do.
And God, it was.
Through all this, I felt like Judas Iscariot; you will deny me three times.
I felt I’d denied my mother three to the third power.
This is what it ‘felt’ like not what it actually was.
I think.
I see it now for what it was but it felt so different back then.
20/20 right?

We brought my mother out to the car and told her we were taking her ‘someplace nice’, another white lie spilled out on the bare ground like an unwanted bottle of Boones Farm Strawberry wine.

When we arrived caregivers and staff were waiting for us with open arms.
We checked out my mother’s room and made sure she was settled before we approached the staff and asked, “What’s next?”

Just leave,” they said, “Call us in three days. She’ll be fine.”

Just leave?
This is it?
How can I just turn around and walk away?
How can I deny her?
I can’t just walk away.

Go. Don’t worry.”

Yeah, right, I thought; easy for you to say.
As we were turning to leave I heard my mother saying, “Wait! Where are you going? Don’t leave me here!”

 

And, we did.
To this day, I still don’t quite know how, but we did.
My father, sister and I walked through the self-locking door and out into the warm sunshine of the free world.
I was cracking inside but felt the need to hide it while my father and sister broke down.

My sister would be alright, she was a long time R.N. used to dealing with intense emotional turmoil.
My dad was another story.
I looked at him and realized he was the farthest thing from a happy ending that I’d ever seen.
And my heart went out to him.
I went to embrace him but his Irish bravado violently pushed me away.
In my mind, for all intents and purposes, he’d just said his last goodbye to a wife of almost 50 years.
Can it get much sadder than that?

Yeah, it can.
Aren’t you glad I’m remembering this? 😉

We drove away lost in our own private asylums of thought; my dad staring thoughtlessly out the window, my sister wondering whether my mother would be alright and me wondering why—period.

My sister and I had previously planned on making my father’s afternoon a light one with a BBQ at my house afterwards.
Dad needed a few beers and some food to get ‘right’ and I was just the guy to do it.
I’ve no doubt my father wanted a cold one as much as I did.

My thinking was indeed correct.

We got to my house and immediately got my father situated on our deck with a cold brew and some munchies. That was most important.
He seemed to relax almost immediately.
The worst was over . . . for now.

I walked into the kitchen as my wife’s eyes began to examine me.
She said, “Are you okay?”

My eyes filled up and I shook my head ‘no’.

She held me tightly as the stress, pain and profound sadness of the day flowed out of me; stormy oceans of regret pounding the waiting and not surprisingly able shoulders of my wife.

My life suddenly felt so wrong and there was nothing I could do to stop the feeling.
I couldn’t solve a complicated puzzle when there were no pieces to arrange, if that makes any logical sense.
My wife said, “Get a beer, start the grill and cook. Forget about it for now. Today is over.”

I couldn’t put my finger on it but there was something bigger than all of us happening here.
Maybe it’s better I never quite figured it out.
I lit the grill and then my cigar and let my inimical thoughts drift up and away in the ethereal clouds of smoke.
Had I known then how many storms were to rain down on my life, this blog may have never been.

Maybe there’s something to be said about guardian angels.
Lord knows, I’m married to one.

Lucky me.

 

~m