Tuesday, January 31, 2012

A Van Meets a SUV

So, feeling good, living in my own skin, huh? Why do I write such things? As soon as I mention that life is basically livable...

...BAM!

I stopped at a stop sign and waited patiently as the line of cars on the Robert Moses Parkway was long. The guy driving the big van behind me didn't actually feel like stopping.

When you are operating a vehicle that does not come to a stop when the vehicle in front of you has stopped there will be a loud...

...CRASH.

It kind of pisses you off, you know.

I got out quick. The guy was out of his vehicle even quicker.

"I'm a freaking idiot!" he exclaimed.

"I was just going to say that," I said.

He pointed to his new shoes. They were shiny brown workboots.

"I just bought these yesterday. My foot slipped off the brake and when I went to hit it, I hit the gas."

"I hate your new boots," I said.

We assessed the damage. There was enough to file a police report.

"How do you feel?" he asked.

I felt all right then, but the back and neck stiffened up quickly.

I went to work anyway.

What's the difference?

Life is a colossal pain in the neck.

"Wanna' buy my boots?" the guy asked as we got ready to part company.

We won't see one another again. His insurance guy will meet my insurance guy.

"Ah, what're you gonna' do?" I asked as I shook his hand and wished him well.

That's what I get for being in a good mood yesterday.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Living in Your Own Skin

As luck might have it, I was listening to Bruce on Sunday morning. You see, I was up early and since no one else gets up with me, except for Melky and Paris, I needed to entertain myself with something after taking them for their ride.

We saw a squirrel. Damn, we were fired up.

So, I headed to the YMCA. A bunch of fat guys trying to slim down and chase away what will most likely be a lot of suffering as we pay for the sins of our youth.

And I had the headphones on, as I attempted to run for the first time since the second knee surgery.

I made it a half a lap.

I must have looked like a wounded seal.

A big one.

And Bruce happened to come on, singing of Better Days.

My soul checked out missing as I sat listening to the hours and minutes ticking away.

As per usual, my mind is often very contemplative on the weekends as I try and assess everything.

It felt good to be moving. It felt better to know that we would all be together today for dinner, movies, the NBA Game that Sam wants to watch. It felt even better to know that I'd gone to church and that my Springsteen tickets were on their way, and so is baseball season.

Bruce sang on.

It's a sad man, my friend, who's living in his own skin and can't stand the company.

That's what it's all about, right? Getting comfortable with your own place in life so you can share some of that love with others. I pray that others find that place, at least a couple of times through the day.

I suspect that many don't. Life is too busy. Love is often misdirected.

Remember folks, the joy of love isn't in the result of loving. It's in the very act of feeling love.

I better write something new.

Feeling comfortable in my own skin, today.

It's a feeling you have to hold onto when it comes.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

The Shit House Poet


This is an actual port-a-lav from an actual jobsite here in lovely Buffalo. There were two reasons why I took the photo:

1). The walls were filled. Usually there are a couple of items on the walls, but this particular shithouse was a true canvas. It appears that a union carpenter and a non-union laborer were really pissed off about one another in regard to how they made their living and evidently, their sexual orientations.

2). Reason #2 was even more pronounced. It was because I actually read something I liked. A man perched on the opening wrote, at eye level:

"Every woman is a whore - except your mother - and don't ask your father about her."

I had seen said quote before, but I laughed anyway.

What goes through the mind of a man to write such stuff on a wall?

A couple of years ago I saw my own name on one of the walls:

"Cliff is a &*ckHead," was how I was honored.

"No he isn't!!" Someone wrote underneath it with a line pointing up.

So, I had one fan.

I stood back a little bit as I snapped the above photo. The language isn't very good. The spelling is worse, but the proud men were expressing themselves, right?

Finally, the one that drives me crazy.

"Shithouse tennis!" it says.

Under that is the instruction to "Look right!"

I always do it!

There it says, "Look Left!"

I always do it!

And I'm stuck playing shithouse tennis.

I played for 40 minutes one day.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

The News

So, Tim Thomas of the Bruins didn't want to go to the White House to meet Obama.

What country does he work in?

Oh well.

Much like I felt when that nutbag threw the shoe at Dubya, I think the office of the presidency should be honored...no matter if you think the guy in there is dim or not.

But this is America where we can make such stands, so I don't hate Thomas for it...it's his call.

Howard Stern is going to be on Dancing with the Stars and people cringe about that, but I stand up for my boy Howard.

Is he a worse guy than Steven Tyler who abused everything, was arrested a zillion times and treated women horribly?

Howard is a proud father who's always stayed clear of trouble.

I might even have to watch the show now...at least once.

Did you catch the State of the Union?

I didn't.

I might have liked to have heard the speech, but I hate the format with the standing and the clapping and the love that isn't there.

Earlier in the year I finished reading the Stephen King book about JFK - 11/22/63 - love the title because it's my brother's birth day - and in the end, King wrote a great few lines about the assassination and the dark cloud it cast...

...he compared it to the Democratic-Republican warfare that goes on every day now.

Hopefully, we don't continue to battle along those lines until something like that happens again.

(Great book, by the way - it's on its way to Pops' house soon).

By percentage, do you pay more taxes than Mitt?

I bet you do.

It's a quiet weekend this weekend. No football. Baseball still a couple of months away, but Bruce tickets are on sale today!

Dare I say it?

The winter weather has been awesome!

That's all the news from here, I suppose.

Back to your regularly scheduled programming.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Land of Hopes and Dreams

Three years ago today...sucked.

How do you live broken-hearted?

Listen to Bruce. Live the prayer.

This is the Land of Hopes and Dreams

I'll think of it a lot today.

Thanks for writing it Bruce.

Land of Hopes and Dreams

Grab your ticket and your suitcase
Thunder's rolling down the tracks
You don't know where you're goin'
But you know you won't be back
Darlin' if you're weary
Lay your head upon my chest
We'll take what we can carry
And we'll leave the rest

Big Wheels rolling through fields
Where sunlight streams
Meet me in a land of hope and dreams

I will provide for you
And I'll stand by your side
You'll need a good companion for
This part of the ride
Leave behind your sorrows
Let this day be the last
Tomorrow there'll be sunshine
And all this darkness past

Big wheels roll through fields
Where sunlight streams
Meet me in a land of hope and dreams

This train
Carries saints and sinners
This train
Carries losers and winners
This train
Carries whores and gamblers
This train
Carries lost souls
This train
Dreams will not be thwarted
This train
Faith will be rewarded
This train
Hear the steel wheels singin'
This train
Bells of freedom ringin'
This train
Carries broken-hearted
This train
Thieves and sweet souls departed
This train
Carries fools and kings
This train
All aboard

This Train
Dreams will not be thwarted
This Train
Faith will be rewarded
This Train
Hear the steel wheels singin'
This Train
Bells of freedom ringin'

Thursday, January 26, 2012

The Fix Is In

Back about 25 years ago I worked for a company that was based out of Brooklyn. Some of the guys on the crew were Jersey Shore-like Italian guys with the gold chains and the bada-bing, bada-boom lingo.

Everyone's named ended in a vowel.

During that summer I went to a 4th of July party sponsored by John Gotti. I may have wrote about it before.

I was scared out of my mind at that party.

There was a guy in the crew who handled all of our bets on the football games. The Bills were on the verge of being good and I remembered betting ten bucks or so, in a friendly bet with him.

"Da' Bills ain't beating da' Bengals," he said. "It's set: Bengals versus 49ers in the bowl. 49ers will win but not cover."

"Whatever," I said.

And we bet.

The Bills lost. The 49ers won the Super Bowl two weeks later. They scored on their last drive to pull it out.

They didn't cover the spread.

I remember asking bada-bing how he could be so sure.

"Lots of money is bet on football," he said. "You think it ain't orchestrated?"

I think of that a lot. I remember my Dad saying that a guy he knew had some inside knowledge. I wonder about a billion dollars hanging out there. My uncles all believe it's fixed.

Ever see how many games are decided by a half-point?

Ever wonder about how the lines are set?

Ever see a week when all the underdogs win?

Ever see a penalty flag get tossed for holding after a play results in a touchdown?

It's an uncomfortable subject.

I just know that a lot of people put a lot of money on the Giants to win when they started the season 6 and 6. Vegas was giving tremendous odds.

If the Giants win Vegas is going to pay out a lot of money.

Take the Pats and the over.

Just saying.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Humiliated

That poor kicker with the Ravens. He missed a chip shot field goal that would have tied the game. No matter who you were rooting for, you have to feel for the guy.

I guess it goes with the territory, right? You're paid to make 'em and when you miss 'em, people are going to hate you.

About 12 years ago the Bills ate up a hundred million in tax money to re-do the stadium. I was there mostly every day for the construction. As the project came to a close the Bills let the workers line up and try to kick a 35-yard field goal.

There were 50 of us.

We all tried.

My attempt was only 23 yards short. 47 other guys missed too. Check the math: Two guys made it.

I'd be 34 and a half yards short if I tried to kick it now.

Yet the thing about it was that it was certainly embarrassing to miss that kick in front of 49 other guys. They were hooting and hollering as I approached the ball, and laughing and teasing as my kick harmlessly landed on the 20 yard line.

It was about then I decided that perhaps I judged athletes too harshly.

But it's natural. The guy should have made the kick. He flat-out choked. I'm thinking he hasn't got out of bed yet.

But we've all failed. Most of us fail a lot of times every day. We got to get back on our own personal fields and take another kick at it as quickly as we can.

Now, I hesitate to bring this up, but in September 2010 I picked the Green Bay Packers to win it all.

They did.

In September 2011 I picked the New England Patriots.

Two in a row?

If so, I will study and prepare my next year's pick for you.

Send me ten bucks and I'll give you the name of the winning team in the game to be played in February 2013.

God, sometimes I'm insufferable, huh?

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

How Do You Want To Be Remembered?

The passing of Joe Paterno was sad to me on a couple of different levels.

First, I felt for his family and fans.

Secondly, I felt bad for him.

I did.

But man, it really galled me to see people glossing over the fact that he didn't do more when he knew about the Sandusky deal.

I don't believe he deserves a statue. I don't believe people should be adorning his statue with gifts.

Make no mistake:

He knew.

And not only did he know about the abuse the first time, but the second and third time too.

And he should have done more.

And knowing he didn't, probably helped to kill him.

And I do feel bad for that.

But worse than all that, I feel bad for the people who are defending him. He doesn't deserve you standing up for him. He knew what he was risking.

What he risked, and lost, was his perfect reputation.

That was his decision, not mine.

Does that make him a horrible man?

Probably not. He will be judged.

I heard today that there are groups planning to protest him at his own funeral.

That makes me sick.

All of it does.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Taking Stock

So some 20-odd days into 2012.

I'm beat to shit.

Work has been a real bear. One thing after another. People have their agendas and evidently a lot of them involved me. The thing about it is that it may not be different than the work load in the past, but this getting old shit is for the birds.

I often think of my Dad telling me about how enthusiastic he was for every day to start. He put it in only the way that he could.

"I want to be about 90 years old and up on charges for attempted rape," he told me.

He might have done it too if some of that enthusiasm hadn't been stripped.

And for the most part, it's a shot out of the cannon type of experience for me as well. I look forward to working hard. Yet there are a few things I know for sure about 2012.

1). I don't want anything to do with the presidential election. I don't want to know who you're voting for or why. I don't want to know who you think screwed it all up. Let's just agree that it's a mess, it's unlikely to change, and go from there.

2). The Bruce album release and the Yanks start is going to get me going early in the year. No doubt about it. I really don't get sick of liking the exact same things. In fact, I thrive on it. Same hotel, same restaurant every time I travel. Same, same, same. I know the Yanks and Bruce will both be good. Why deviate?

3). The kids are getting bigger and hairier now and they will continue to grow at a maniacal pace. I'm going to sit back right easy and laugh as they make their mistakes as they grow. I do want them to reach adulthood without having me to blame for anything. That's the ultimate goal, right. I don't want them sitting on a couch some day saying, 'My Dad really screwed me up."

The fact that my time is limited before they make moves on their own is a little disconcerting, but I can rest easy knowing that kids don't really get going until they are in their 30's anymore. So they'll be around for awhile.

4). The one goal that I had for 2012 is the same as in recent years- eat right, get healthy...mostly for golf.

Not sure how that one is going. When I travel I eat for shit. The first 20 days are any indication and I may have to trade in golf for sumo.

It gets so much more difficult to drop weight, to get motivated, to eat right. There's a certain #@ck it aspect to it, isn't there?

So that's where we are twenty some days in...plenty of time to re-adjust.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

1957 Versus 2010

HIGH SCHOOL - 1957 vs. 2010

Scenario 1:

Jack goes quail hunting before school and then pulls into the school parking lot with his shotgun in his truck's gun rack.

1957 - Vice Principal comes over, looks at Jack's shotgun, goes to his car and gets his shotgun to show Jack.

2010 - School goes into lock down, FBI called, Jack hauled off to jail and never sees his truck or gun again. Counselors called in for traumatized students and teachers.

Scenario 2:

Johnny and Mark get into a fist fight after school.

1957 - Crowd gathers. Mark wins. Johnny and Mark shake hands and end up buddies.

2010 - Police called and SWAT team arrives - they arrest both Johnny and Mark. They are both charged with assault and both expelled even though Johnny started it.

Scenario 3:

Anthony will not be still in class, he disrupts other students.

1957- Anthony sent to the Principal's office and given a good paddling by the Principal. He then returns to class, sits still and does not disrupt class again.

2010 - Anthony is given huge doses of Ritalin. He becomes a zombie. He is then tested for ADD. The family gets extra money (SSI) from the government because Anthony has a disability.

Scenario 4:

Billy breaks a window in his neighbor's car and his Dad gives him a whipping with his belt.

1957 - Billy is more careful next time, grows up normal, goes to college and becomes a successful businessman.

2010 - Billy's dad is arrested for child abuse, Billy is removed to foster care and joins a gang. The state psychologist is told by Billy's sister that she remembers being abused herself and their dad goes to prison. Billy's mom has an affair with the psychologist.

Scenario 5:

Mark gets a headache and takes some aspirin to school.

1957 - Mark shares his aspirin with the Principal out on the smoking dock.

2010 - The police are called and Mark is expelled from school for drug violations. His car is then searched for drugs and weapons.

Scenario 6:

Pedro fails high school English.

1957 - Pedro goes to summer school, passes English and goes to college.

2010 - Pedro's cause is taken up by state. Newspaper articles appear nationally explaining that teaching English as a requirement for graduation is racist. ACLU files class action lawsuit against the state school system and Pedro's English teacher. English is then banned from core curriculum. Pedro is given his diploma anyway but ends up mowing lawns for a living because he cannot speak English.

Scenario 7:

Johnny takes apart leftover firecrackers from the Fourth of July, puts them in a model airplane paint bottle and blows up a red ant bed.

1957 - Ants die.

2010 - ATF, Homeland Security and the FBI are all called. Johnny is charged with domestic terrorism. The FBI investigates his parents - and all siblings are removed from their home and all computers are confiscated. Johnny's dad is placed on a terror watch list and is never allowed to fly again.

Scenario 8:

Johnny falls while running during recess and scrapes his knee. He is found crying by his teacher, Mary. Mary hugs him to comfort him.

1957 - In a short time, Johnny feels better and goes on playing.

2010 - Mary is accused of being a sexual predator and loses her job. She faces 3 years in State Prison. Johnny undergoes 5 years of therapy.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

We Take Care of Our Own

The amazing thing about Springsteen's writing is that he has kept his characters consistent from year to year and album to album and that's not easy to do considering the changes in his own life. Yet when I read the words to the new song I am struck by the same thoughts as I was when I first heard him as a teenager. At that point he was facing an internal struggle to fit in as a social outcast and a struggling musician. To see the same sort of angst in his heart as a billionaire rock star means a lot to me. He never abandoned the cause. The guy driving the car at the end of Thunder Road is still on the road looking to find his way. And Americans everywhere can appreciate the work-in-progress feel to all of the characters.

A struggle to be spiritual, productive and alive.

Words by Bruce Springsteen. Columbia Records.

We Take Care of Our Own

I’ve been knocking on the door that holds the throne.
I’ve been looking for the map that leads me home.
I’ve been stumbling on good hearts turned to stone.
The road of good intentions has gone dry as a bone.

We take ...care of our own…
We take care of our own.
Wherever this flag’s flown.
We take care of our own.

From Chicago to New Orleans
From the muscle to the bone.
From the shotgun shack to the Superdome.
There ain’t no help
The calvary’s stayed home
There ain’t no one hearing the bugle blown.

We take care of our own…
We take care of our own.
Wherever this flag’s flown.
We take care of our own.

Where are the eyes, the eyes with the will to see?
Where are the hearts that run over with mercy?
Where’s the love that has not forsaken me?
Where’s the work that will set my hands, my soul free?
Where’s the spirit that will reign, rain over me
Where’s the promise from sea to shining sea…
Where’s the promise from sea to shining sea…

Wherever this flag is flown.
Wherever this flag is flown.
Wherever this flag is flown.

We take care of our own.

Wherever this flag is flown.

We take care of our own.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Bruuuuuucccceeeee! And the Yanks Add to the Staff

So things seem to be shaking on E Street as I am getting word on the new Springsteen CD. They are talking full E Street Band but also a mix of some of the Seeger Sessions musicians to take Clarence's place.

(God Bless the Big Man).

They are also talking an angry, spiritual, political album that sounds different from anything else in the last ten or so years.

How can you not be fired up?

One thing I can tell you for sure: the writing will be brilliant.

And speaking of brilliant, did you happen to catch the Yankees moves over the weekend?

A couple of starting pitchers were brought in to bolster the staff.

Life is looking up here in Cliffy land.

And man, it is good to see some news as we slide into the end of January and the darkest couple of months of the year. I've always hated February and over the last few years March has been the suckiest freaking month that was ever put on the calendar, but then we have April!

The Yankees will open the season that concludes with championship #28.

Bruce will be in Buffalo and I most likely will see him in a couple of other cities too.

A new CD.

Somebody to pitch behind CC.

Pasta on Sunday.

The Bills draft is just around the corner...that's always good for a belly laugh.

Things are on the upswing, my friends.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Every Man for Himself

So the captain of the Costa Concordia seems to really be gunning for douche of the world, huh?

First he takes the ship with 4,200 people on it nice and close to the shore so he can wave to his friends and family and then when it hits a rock and tips the frig over, he announces that the crew should be saved first and that when it all comes to pass it's every man for himself.

What the hell?

Now I'm not exactly Mel Gibson (another douche) in Braveheart but I think I'd have a little compassion for the women and children on the ship, and hell, if I felt like I were responsible for everyone making a mad scramble, I might just stick around to see how it all turns out.

This guy is going to be a bigger villain than Madoff (Huge douche) before it's all over, and deservedly so, right?

Speaking of villains I see that Orenthal (dumb douche)had his house foreclosed this week. It is still so hard to imagine the path of that dumb bastards life. To be cheered by millions, adored by at least that many, and now sitting in a tiny little cell, deservedly so, right, but what can possibly go through his mind on an hour-to-hour basis?

Wouldn't you like to watch a reality show of OJ moving around his little cell?

Would you buy his foreclosed house?

It's funny, but his name still comes up here in conversation in Buffalo. It's usually something like:

"Man he was a great football player, THOUGH."

As if the though sort of explains away his two little murders.

I often think of his suicide note and how he spelled 'female' as...'femail' ....guess that USC edumacation wasn't worth much.

So, now that Tebow didn't pull off a miracle and he isn't topping the sports shows, I can honestly say that I'm glad he's someone people are looking up to.

I just didn't want to see him being set up for a huge fall.

And nobody will ever fall faster from grace than Orenthal.

Every man for himself, indeed.

He really was a great player, THOUGH.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Everybody Knows Your Name



Isn't that the best?

I may have gasped when I saw the above shot in Boston. How could you not if you're around my age?

Cheers was more than a great show, it was what we all talked about.

So, I was pretty excited to be there, and the owners of the place have done a nice job of re-creating the bar scene. In fact, the bar itself really seems to be the one they used on the show.

There are nameplates in front of each seat to let you know who sat where as if you really couldn't find Norm and Cliffy's spots.

I sat in Clavin's chair, of course, and ordered the Clavin sandwich. It was grilled cheese with roasted peppers and olives.

Not bad at all.

And there was a sandwich for each member of the cast, and a gift shop, and just a lot of really cool things to look at.

I thought of the nights when my brothers and I would watch the show and drink beer depending upon which name was called. We also might have played the same game in college.

They don't do shows like that anymore, you know? Now we get to watch talent shows and reality garbage.

Our waitress told us the story of the bar and why it came to be. We had entered the place around 11:30 and sort of had our run of the joint, but by the time we were leaving, it was packed.

I imagine it is wall-to-wall with people who visit.

Can't get enough of Clifford Clavin, right?

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Temple Run is Runing My Life!

And it's not just Temple Run, which is a game on the I-phone. It is also video slots (not playing with real money) and the new golf game that I purchased for 5 bucks just last week.

Temple Run is a game where you dart around with something that looks like birds chasing you. There are pinpoint turns and you pick up coins and you add crap on and you jump and slide and die.

If you die once, your game is over. That happens every couple of minutes, and it is so damn addiciting as you try to get your score higher and higher and higher.

"There's a kid in my class who has 4 million," Sam told me.

I was at 40,000 when that news was broken to me.

Then Sam got up over 500,000. Then Matt got to 2 million. Jake is well over the 500,000 mark.

I currently sit at 287,000.

Since we discovered the game I played it ten times more than any one of my kids. OCD will do that to you. I play it as we watch television. It's quite a sight.

We all have phones in our hands. Sam is playing golf. Kathy is spinning the video slots, and I'm sliding into trees, rivers and whatever hell else they put in my way.

I simply suck. And it hurts me deep down.

"You're just pathetic," Jake mentioned as I slid into a ring of fire.

"But I can send you to bed," I answered.

"And I won't go," he countered.

I've lost all control, and they laugh at me on a nightly basis.

Who else has played this son-of-a-bitch-in-game?

Monday, January 16, 2012

Real Strange




Life is sometimes really strange. Yesterday afternoon I returned from my trip to Boston and as I entered the house the dogs jumped for my attention. Kathy, Jake and Sam were on the couch watching the football game and eating an ice cream. They all said hi, but they didn't jump up and clap, which was great.

Because, you see, I had just been through a real weird experience.

I headed to Boston to accept an award for a book I never imagined writing. I wanted to introduce the people to Jeff though so I was on a mission. I just never truly grasped all of it.

It was a big award, I'm told. 5% of books entered received recognition....so there were a lot of books in the competition. The event was held in the Parker House where a lot of history was made. JFK proposed at one table, Longfellow and Thoreau sat over there. Everything was elegant and they were passing around shit I'd never eat, but shoveled in anyway whenever one of the snooty waiters passed.

All good, so far, nothing on my shirt...which Kathy picked...which didn't show any nipples.

Yet I had a cold...and I hadn't warmed up much. I stayed in Boston with Lyndsy and Dave, two great people who had the Western New York roots. We lounged all day after seeing some sites and I enjoyed their company so much because we were just regular folk.

The guy who sat across from me was in a tux. He wrote poems. He was a big-time professor at a big-time college. He told me that he'd waited all his life to be recognized in such a manner. That was when the woman who organized the festival came by. She hugged me and said

"Welcome back! You're our first two-time winner!"

I had won in 2008 for Nobody's Home.

The guy in the tux almost choked on the Vietnamese spring roll.

Anyway, I sort of hung out. I stopped every single waiter with a tray and tried their food. The steak rolls were the best.

"Are you nervous about your speech?" the guy's wife asked me.

"Uh, nope."

And when I went up there I heard voices in my head. Voices of Jim, Jeff, John, Carrie, Corinne, and Mom.

Make it funny.

Walk tall or don't walk at all.

Clean yourself.

And then Dad...

Do more than what they expect.

And it was perfect too because the guy before me droned on without any regard for timing or laughter.

I thanked them for the award and then I said simply:

I lost my brother to a tragedy and it broke the hearts of a lot of people. Let me introduce him to you.

And I went off. I felt lousy (from a cold) but I was right on time. When I told them about Jeff saying "I can see your nipples, dude," the roar was unreal.

All those well-dressed people were getting it straight from the heart.

And I went on and on...the canned goods. The ahahahahahaha. The spirit of the man I loved so much, alive and vibrating the walls with laughter.

And then I was done.

And I looked up, and it hit me. The people were standing up in the back and clapping and smiling and I was walking back to my seat, fighting the tears.

Back home, 10 hours later...

"I took the hamburger out for dinner," my wife said as I tossed my bag on the counter.

"Perfect," I said.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Weekend in New England





So much to say about the weekend and I will try tomorrow. Just know that it was a smashing success as I paid homage at Fenway, sat in Clavin's chair at the Cheers bar, and introduced a whole bunch of award-winning authors to an award-deserving life.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Beantown Bound!


So, Jeff and me are heading for the land of steroid cheats and breaking curses because they were steroid cheats and did I mention that they cheated when they won the World Series, and it doesn't count, and that I'm going to piss all over Yawkey Way?

Actually, I am glad to go to the town, and I'm only half-kidding when I say that stuff above.

They won the series in '04 and '07 Unfair and not-square, but who am I to judge.

No, I am going to Boston for an honor that means the world to me and should mean the world to you as readers of Oh Brother!

You see, the book would have never been written without each person reading this. I wrote it because of an overwhelming love I felt in my heart...and will always feel...and a lot of that was because of family, friends, and readers who wanted that message that Jeff so eloquently lived.

So, I will wear nice clothes, and I might not tinkle at Fenway.

This trip is about honor, after all.

(But you never know).

I'm dreaming about an isolated, quiet street and no street lamps at the front entrance of the park.

(It could happen).

Friday, January 13, 2012

Stop the Hype! Please!


So, Tim Tebow said, “Thank you Lord,” when the winning TD was scored, and before “Tebowing” on his knee to show the millions watching, including the Lord, that a Steeler victory just wasn’t in God’s plan. Doesn’t a deity, somewhere above, like the Steelers and Pittsburgh fans?

Still, dropping on one’s knee with head bowed is more refined than the jigs and jives that so many football players do after scoring a touchdown. Would theologians argue that playoff games like this are a welcome distraction for the Lord, who must be terribly disillusioned with so much suffering around the world?

Should not the odds-making gurus be seeking the advice of those with supernatural contacts, like TV evangelists, before informing the betting public how to risk its money?

And I realize now, sadly, why the teams I played with as a youth seldom won a championship. The guys on the others teams just outprayed us, and the Lord reacted accordingly


That's one such article I read today.

I agree.

I wake up to ESPN telling me about the Power of Tebow. I see his photo on the cover of every single newspaper that I pick up.

How many times have you seen him crouched in prayer? They are going to add Tebowing to the dictionary as dropping to one's knee in exaltation.

Enough! Stop! He is not "Baby Jesus" as I heard him referred to the other day!

And it's making me really not like what seems to be a honest, God-fearing guy. He might be a good role model. It sure as hell beats the guys who murder dogs, put their things in the hands of cocktail waitresses and beat the shit out of their wives.

I am not denying that, but I can't take anymore!

First off, he's by all accounts a below average player. He might be on the perfect team for him right now, but they aren't even a great team in the scheme of things. He will most likely be out of the playoffs on Monday, whipped by a true superstar quarterback.

If he's not, and they happen to win, on a miracle finish, please remember a few things.

1). God doesn't care! God is not helping the ball elude defenders hands so that his new prophet can be seen kneeling in supplication before the game against the Ravens the following week.

2). The Patriots loss wouldn't be a sign that God defeated Satan. As far as I know, there are also Christians on New England. We aren't quite sure of that because they don't make a grand show of it.

Do I have advice for Tebow?

Yeah, leave it in the locker room. Pray all you like, just don't tell me about it. I don't need to know that you said a Hail Mary as the defensive end was bearing down on you. I don't need you to bring a sick kid that you visited to the podium with you.

A few years ago a plane crashed here in Buffalo. The police received a check. I know one of the officers. It was sent from Derek Jeter, who put it in the mail after reading the story in his paper. He requested that it be spent without fanfare. He didn't want it in the media.

And I know, he's a Yankee and I'm a Yankee fan and I find that gracious, but it's not just Jeter. A lot of these guys give to charity nice and quietly.

We know you're a good guy, Tebow. We know what you believe and that you haven't even had sex yet, for God's sake. We watch you pray. We know your stand on abortion and Thank God for that religious commercial you bought and starred in last year. We realize that you have a message, but for God's sake, we're trying too, and you're being built up to be more than a man, and that just can't end well.

Look at what happened to Jesus.

They crucified him.

They got sick of the hype.

I wish Tebow all the luck in the world. But please don't try and tell me he's good either. I've seen enough pro football to know that he really isn't. Guys throw for 300 yards every week.

He did it once.

I'm not rooting against him.

Honestly, I'm not. I pray too.

But please, for the love of God...

...make it stop!

He's a 24-year old man who makes his living with a ball.

That's it, that's all.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

I Need A Mantra

I was watching a show last night and a star actress being interviewed said that her mantra is 'Live life to the fullest.'

And it occurred to me that I don't have a mantra!

What should it be? What should it be?

"I try and make it home for Judge Judy?"

"I try to see how much rigatoni I can eat at one sitting?"

"I try to aggravate at least twenty people a day."

Gotta' admit it, I like all of them, but still not sure what my mantra will be.

Of course having a mantra and announcing it is an awful pompous thing to do, isn't it?

I wanted to yell at that actress that her thought was neither interesting nor original. She wants to live each day to the fullest!

Moron.

But I will come up with a mantra before the day is over. I'm thinking of getting that done and then getting a walking cane, a top hat, and a tattoo of John 3:16.

Whatever I need to do to announce that I'm a douche.

How about?

"I don't count my chickens before they're hatched."

"Life is like a box of chocolates."

"I'm going to live like there's no tomorrow."

"Every rose has a thorn."

I suppose that you have to say something when someone is interviewing you, but does anyone really have a mantra?

I do.

I'm going with the Judge Judy one.

"I try and make it home for Judge Judy."

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

They Are Becoming Men


I attended Jake's basketball game on Saturday morning. On the way to the game he mentioned that he was about to dominate the action and that my head would most likely be spinning with how great he has become.

I simply wanted to get through the game without getting pissed off at any over-bearing parents, or grandparents, for that matter.

Jake took the court early in the game. My first reaction was how big and hairy he looked to me. When you see your kid from the moment he takes his first breath and every day thereafter, sometimes the mere size of them can throw you off.

A minute in, he was in on a steal. That was one thing I did very little of as a player: defense.

Then he did something even more disconcerting.

He passed the ball to a teammate who streaked to the hoop and scored. Jake glanced my way.

In my eyes, he was dominating.

A few minutes later he got his first shot. It was a mid-range bank shot that rolled out. I had offered 5 bucks a point.

Another rebound, another assist, another missed long range bomb. His team was well ahead. The crowd was behaving. There was one mother who hooted and hollered on every single play, and yelled out for her son to dominate, but she wasn't offensive so I could basically ignore her.

Jake inbounded the ball on a set play for an easy layup for one of his buddies. They slapped hands on their way back to defense where they trapped the point guard and got another turnover.

What the hell is up with the defense and passing? When did that become a part of the game?

Finally, Jake scored from just inside the foul line. A nice, little jumper that tickled the twine.

"That's it Jake!" I yelled out.

The woman with the big mouth gave me a sideways glance. Her kid was on the same team. "Good shot, Jacob!" she yelled too.

A dominating performance. My head was spinning with how great he is.

It seemed like ten minutes ago when I heard the doctor say, "Meet your son."

I thought of that all the way out to the car as Jake replayed his dominance for me.

Pretty cool.

Even if I still can't grasp the concept of a pass.

Monday, January 9, 2012

I Don't CARE!!!!!

I am always wrong when I get into these political arguments, but why the hell is the Republican platform:

"I love Jesus, I own a gun and we all hate gay people?"

Let's take them one at a time.

I love Jesus too. This is a Christian country, but I don't think less of you if you worship someone else. As long as you're a decent human being, fine. No one has a freaking clue what transpires after we exit anyway, so why pretend that you do. Tebow all you like. We fought for our religious expression. Keep it in your speech. Keep it out. Just don't expect me to vote for you because I think you go to church. You're probably banging an intern or trying to get toilet paper from the guy next to you anyway. Always remember one thing:

You're most likely a disgusting, immoral slob anyway.

I don't own a gun. I don't want your gun unless you are using it to blast away senators or the ex-wife and your four kids. Keep your gun. Go shoot some cans. Hold it under your pillow and pretend you're in the Old West. I could care less. I do think you should have to prove that you're mentally competent enough to handle it, and if you aren't, you shouldn't have one.

Fair enough.

And finally, the one that really grinds my gears.

Why in the hell are we always talking about 'gay this' and 'gay that' whenever there is a presidential debate and/or election coming up?

The states seem to be making the laws. We have gay marriage here in New York, and you know what, it hasn't changed my life one iota.

I'm not gay. If you are, that's fine. Let's all be quiet about it now, can't we? The chance that a gay person is going to directly compromise my way of living is none. I know some gay people, obviously. It's part of our society. I don't think less of them.

Because I don't care! I don't see them having sex. I don't know what religion says on the deal. Maybe it was Adam and Steve. Who the hell knows?

I've never seen any of my straight friends have sex either. I have no interest in watching anyone go at it.

Yet every debate raises the issue.

We are fighting all over the world. Banks collapse, CEO's steal bushels filled with money. A fifth of the people in this country are starving. You can't send your kids to college without having to eat anything but dog food when you get older, and the most pressing issue on the table is can 'Elizabeth get married to Melissa?'

Ah well, just a Monday morning rant.

I'm probably wrong.

If we solve the gay marriage issue everything else will fall into line, right?

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Can You Lend A Hand?

An Uplifting Story

There was a man who lost one of his arms in an accident. He became very depressed because he loved to play golf.

One day in his despair, he decided to commit suicide. He got on an elevator and went to the top of a building to jump off.

He was standing on the ledge looking down and saw this man skipping along, whooping and kicking up his heels. He looked closer and saw that this man didn't have any arms at all.

He started thinking, what am I doing up here feeling sorry for myself, I still have one good arm to do things with?

There goes a man with no arms skipping down the sidewalk so happy, and going on with his life.

He hurried down and caught up with the man with no arms. He told him how glad he was to see him because he lost one of his arms and felt useless and was going to kill himself.

He thanked him again for saving his life and said he knew he could make it with one arm if that guy could go on with no arms.

The man with no arms began dancing and whooping and kicking up his heels again. He asked:

"Why are you so happy anyway?"

“I'm NOT happy," the man said.

"My balls itch.”

Saturday, January 7, 2012

The Foxhole

I spent a good deal of the morning listening to Jay Thomas on Friday. He was voicing his theory regarding the military. You see, Thomas doesn't believe in war. He particularly doesn't believe in the last few wars, and he is fond of telling military men not to kill anyone for him, and not to fight for his freedom.

Thomas explains it all by saying that he feels guilty that people are dying for him, and that he doesn't want anyone to make the ultimate sacrifice for his benefit.

I sort of get it.

Now, of course, it is deemed as unpatriotic to say anything about the soldiers, and I don't think that is what Thomas is doing...he just doesn't want it on his conscience. He is unapologetic and unwavering.

Again, it makes sense to me.

But, a 22-year veteran called in and called Thomas an asshole.

Comes with the territory.

Soon enough the discussion swung around to what sort of soldier every man in the room might make.

And this is where Jay and I sort of lined up even more.

We both would've sucked.

You see, there are men's men. They are big, strong, no-nonsense types of guys who can maim or kill on command. They will have your back. They will spring across a minefield to save their squad. They will wear their bravery and their courage on their sleeves. They will stand tall for what they believe is right, and fight, even if it means they may die themselves.

God Bless them, truly!

Don't get me wrong. I'm not a total coward. I would fight to the death for my family and friends, and if I honestly believed America were at risk.

I think there are a lot of guys like me.

But I'd ask a lot of questions first.

One time I hit a possum with my car. I came up the hill and he was sitting in the center of the road. I think he was eating something. The sound of my tires crushing his back shook the hell out of me.

I nearly pulled to the side so I could weep. I still think of him every time I pass the spot where his life ended.

And therein lies the argument that Thomas and I will always try and make. Not to be disrespectful of the men and women who give their lives for what they believe in...but it's all real scary, isn't it?

I wish there weren't a question. I wish no one had to kill for freedom.

Does it make me a pussy? (As many of you are thinking).

I don't know.

I do know that I will think of that poor possum tonight.

I hope his family can forgive me.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Serenity Now!

Say it with me, Pops.

One of them damn weeks. I have a theory about short weeks.

They suck.

Because people still have agendas, and people have more rest, and they feel that the new year is going to be different, so they are going to sprint out of the gate.

And call me!

Bastards!

There were others who were voicing some of the same concerns. I saw it all over Facebook, but let me tell you, it ruined my first week of 2012.

So much so that I am tired of this year.

But a funny thing happened on my way to absolute destruction.

I found out the date of Bruce's next CD. And tell me if this doesn't make your skin crawl.

As I wrote in Oh Brother! Jeff got sick on the very day Bruce released his last CD. Do you know when he last came to Buffalo?

On my brother John's birthday. A balloon drifted from the rafters. It had been released for Little Steven's birthday. It landed in John's lap.

It said, 'Happy Birthday.'

It was the last concert the E Street Band ever played together with Clarence.

Bruce released his concert DVD. On what would have been Jeff's birthday.

He is releasing the new CD, as rumors say, on the 3rd anniversary of Jeff's passing.

There is a great force at work, here, friends.

It keeps me swinging for the fences.

The Y-M-C-A

Of course, whenever I hear the YMCA song I think of my brother running through the crowd, slapping his bare ass while wearing his loin cloth Halloween costume, but I digress...

We have been members of the local YMCA for a lot of years now, and in January it's pretty much a living hell because people make resolutions and they head out in force for a few weeks. There aren't any parking spots, the hot tub is filled with flesh, and even as I walked on the track the other day, people were huffing and puffing their way around.

And I can stand to lose a few pounds, but some of the people I saw could stand to run non-stop from here to Edmonton, Alberta and back. No breaks, no food allowed.

And they'd still be obese.

Yet what gets to me is that strange, uncomfortable vibe in the locker room, and seeing some of these humungous asses in the shower.

Upon arriving I always try to find an isolated area of the locker room where I can change clothes in peace. I will head for the quiet corner, and hope that no one else comes by. Then I will go and work out, shower, hit the tub, shower again, and then head for my secluded spot to change.

Except its never still secluded.

The other day two huge, older men...both naked...stood three feet away. They didn't dress as they talked. They simply stood there and talked about their families, their jobs, and who'd win the Pittsburgh-Denver game. They evidently hadn't seen one another in five years. They were happy to have their reunion butt-naked.

I found it weird.

First off, I am not comfortable enough to stand naked in front of anyone for any length of time. I certainly couldn't stand a foot apart from another man and talk about the weather, football, or anything else. Sooner or later I'd have to mention something about the fact that we were both naked.

It probably wouldn't be a kind comment either.

I might have to point and laugh.

I dressed as quickly as possible. They were still chatting. They were laughing. They were still nude.

As I headed for the door, I took one glance back. One of the guys got more comfortable by putting his left leg up on the bench.

"Ha-Ha, you don't say!"

If I could've ran, I would have.

I didn't want to see them embrace goodbye.

I can't wait until the resolution stage is over.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Did You Know?

God, I was going to vote for Herman Cain and he got bounced, so I switched to Rick Perry, but we found out he's done, so I switched to Bachman, and now she quit, so I was going to go to Newt, but he had a disappointing finish in Iowa. So, I thought about Santorium but there was footage...ah forget it!

Did you know that Hitler was Time Magazine's Man of the Year for 1938?

Did you know that Oprah makes a million bucks a day?

Did you know that your chances of getting killed on your way to buy a lottery ticket are actually better than your chances of winning?

Did you know that Americans spend 25 billion dollars a year on beer?

Which might explain...did you know that the amount of human urine in one day could flow over Niagara Falls for 20 minutes?

Did you know that if a cockroach comes into contact with a human it will run off and hide and clean itself for an hour or so?

Did you know that it's cheaper to have sex with a prostitute than it is to buy a condom in India?

Did you know that Bin Laden's death was announced on May 1 and Hitler's death was also announced on May 1? 2011 and 1945 respectively.

Did you know that in 1897 Bayer marketed heroin as a cough syrup?

Did you know that a married man is 4 times more likely to die during sex if his partner is someone other than his wife?

Did you know that the mobile phone you carry has a more powerful computer than the one NASA used to send men to the moon in 1969?

See the shit you learn reading this goofy blog?

Is any of it true?

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

This Concludes Our Tour to Open Up 2012

So my last 3 posts have been about things I've tried hard to learn. We will get back to our regularly scheduled mess-I-make-of-things posts tomorrow. Wanted to conclude with Bruce lyrics of course.

Someone tell me, honestly, that he isn't a genius.

Across the Border

Tonight my bags are packed. Tomorrow I’ll walk these tracks that will lead me across the border.

Tomorrow my love and I will sleep beneath auburn skies – somewhere across the border.

We’ll leave behind, my dear, the pain and sadness we found here and we’ll drink from God’s Blessed Water.

Where the skies grow great and wide, we’ll meet on the other side somewhere across the border.

For you I’ll build a house, high upon a grassy hill, somewhere across the border.

Where pain and memory have been stilled there across the border.

And sweet blossoms fill the air in pastures of gold and green and roll down into clear, cool waters.

And in your arms beneath open skies, I’ll kiss the sorrow from your eyes there across the border.

Tonight, we’ll sing the songs and I’ll dream of you my love, and tomorrow my heart will be strong.

And may the saints blessing and grace carry me safely into your arms there across the border.

For what are we without hope in our hearts that someday we’ll drink from God’s Blessed waters. And eat the fruit from the vine. I know love and fortune will be mine – somewhere across the border.

The 'For what are we without hope in our hearts' may have been something I lifted for the News article, but Bruce wouldn't mind. It was all for good.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Buffalo News - March 2001

Looking through old stuff is fun! This is still one of my favorite stories about the old writing career. Should be self-explanatory. The News got the ball rolling by publishing my letter.

Reality of Poverty Revealed During Visit to City Mission

Over the course of the last three months, I have been doing book signings for my book, Desperation. I am donating a portion of the proceeds to the Buffalo City Mission.

The more I learn about the City Mission, and organizations like it, the more that I feel that I have to give something back.

What are we without hope in our hearts? That’s a question I’ve asked myself a number of times since touring the mission while doing research for my book.

For five years, I worked on a story that chronicled a family’s attempt to cheat poverty. I read a number of books on the subject, and fancied myself something of an expert on what it might mean to be poor in a material-driven society.

But in the first half-hour of my tour of the City Mission, I learned more about what was in my heart than I did in the years spent researching the subject of poverty.

The statement of the Buffalo City Mission is to restore hope, dignity and lives. In appearances throughout the community, I’ve asked people if they would be willing to lend a hand in return for grace. Who among us would not throw a line to a drowning man? Would we ask for a financial statement? Would we want to know if his credit is any good?

While walking through the City Mission, I met the head of the food pantry, He shook my hand for all he was worth and he mentioned something about finally turning his life around. He showed me the place with a wave of the hand, saying:

“I’m in charge around here.”

Not knowing exactly what to say, I mentioned that he was doing an excellent job. His chest puffed out, and he shook my hand again. He’d spent 17 days at the mission, and he was going to make it this time.

Since that day, I have chastised myself for not finding out more about the man, and even though I didn’t get his name, suddenly poverty had a face, one with some hope and dignity.

Yet, as I walked around looking at the supplies, it occurred to me that perhaps there was more that could be done. The pantry was only partially filled, and the demand is almost overwhelming. Most people understand that food is a basic need for places like the City Mission, but few give thought to the other staples of everyday life that most of us take for granted.

“We have a shortage of socks and underwear,” said Rod Sargent, my tour guide. “No one donates socks and underwear.”

It’s a thought that has haunted me since. Do you take having a clean pair of shorts for granted? We shame ourselves to watch a man beg for survival, and still, we put on clean socks and underwear every day, and pray that poverty and homelessness will go away.

I stepped out into the bright sunshine of a beautiful fall day. I walked back to my car, got in, shook my head and drove away.

I know now that I have words to soothe me, and not enough time or money to give. But for the Love of God, we all deserve clean socks and underwear. The men on the streets have a name, and they deserve our grace.

For what are we without hope in our hearts?


The article was printed in March, 2001 in April 2001 I received a note from Pastor Daniel Brick – head of St. Albert’s Church in North Tonawanda, NY.

Brick had used my article in a sermon at his church and his parishioners provided him with a sizeable donation to City Mission. The donation consisted of brand new socks and underwear.

(The best part of the whole deal was when my wife said: "They are talking about you in church?")

Words from Brick’s sermon:

“I read a guest editorial in the Buffalo News. It was written by Clifford Fazzolari of Blasdell, NY.

It turns out that Mr. Fazzolari has written a book called Desperation. It is a story that chronicles a family’s attempt to deal with poverty. Clifford is donating a portion of the book’s proceeds to the Buffalo City Mission. His editorial went on from there to say that the more he learned about the City Mission, the more he felt the need to give something back. He asked the rhetorical question: For what are we without hope in our hearts?

Mr. Fazzolari said he thought he was somewhat of an expert on what it meant “to be poor in a material-driven society.” He went on to write, “In my first half-hour tour of the City Mission, I learned more about what was in my heart than I did in the years of researching the subject of poverty.” He writes that the statement of the City Mission is to restore hope, dignity and lives. He asks,”Would we be willing to lend a hand in return for grace? Who among us would not throw a line to a drowning man? Would we ask for a financial statement? Would we want to know if his credit was good?”

He then went on to recount one of his tours through the City Mission. He talked about their food pantry and the fact that it was only partially filled. He says the demand is terrific. Then he wrote, “Most people understand that food is a basic need for places like the City Mission. But few give thought to the other staples of everyday life. The things most of us take for granted.”

“We have shortage of socks and underwear,” said his tour guide. “No one donates socks and underwear.”

Fazzolari says that the thought has haunted him since and me too! He asks the question, “Do we take having a clean pair of shorts for granted?”

Jesus probably meant to say, “Woe to you if you have clean socks and underwear and don’t share them with the poor.”

That is certainly what Fazzolari is thinking.

Well, I know one thing. St. Albert’s Parish has always been responsive. And we are not waiting. We don’t need any woes. We don’t have to wonder. We have a plain cardboard box up here on the altar that says socks and underwear. It can be Jockey, Fruit of the Loom – it doesn’t matter! It will all go to the City Mission.

Fazzolari is right, “What are we without hope in our hearts? We know what Jesus wants – he wants us to give hope. Socks and underwear is our little way."

To conclude the story, Rod Sargent of the mission called me a couple of weeks later to tell me that a truck had pulled up and dropped off two filled barrels of brand new socks and underwear.

That's when a light went on:

My writing could be of benefit!!!!

Monday, January 2, 2012

The Heart of the Matter

I don't mean to do this all of 2012, but I found another piece I wrote back about ten years ago. It's a true story. I was later asked to read this on a radio station somewhere and it was reprinted somewhere else. I still like it.


On a bitterly cold Saturday morning in November, I stopped at a store for diapers, formula and dog food. I had a miserable hacking cough and an aching head. I was dead-tired and aggravated that there was one cashier with six people in line.

I rolled my eyes and swore only to be embarrassed when I realized the elderly woman behind me had heard me curse.

“I’m sorry. I’m just miserable.”

The lady smiled. I figured she was about seventy. A quick glance at her cart told me she probably lived alone.

“I don’t have enough time left to be miserable,” she said. “Being 93, I know I can go anytime. I have to enjoy what’s left.”

I was floored by her proclamation.

“You can’t be 93! You look so young!”

“That’s because I’m never miserable!"

She introduced herself as Diane. She told me she was pleased to meet me. I voiced the question that entered my little brain.

“What’s the secret to a good life?”

Diane’s smiled, touching my left arm.

“I was hoping someone would eventually ask me that.”

Diane talked as the cashier scanned our groceries. She kept talking as we exited the store and walked through the snow to a Chevy in the center of the lot. As I loaded her car, Diane continued speaking, softly explaining the five most important lessons in her life. When she was through speaking, I stood frozen in place. Its eight months later (it's ten years and eight months later now!), and I can’t stop thinking about what Diane said.

Be considerate of other people.

Understand that the guy that cut you off might be on his way to an emergency.

Clean up after yourself – don’t leave your shopping cart in the middle of the parking lot where it might roll into someone else’s car.

Don’t just tolerate the differences in people; celebrate them because variety is the spice of life and you should be open to new ideas.

Work hard and play fair

If someone gives you a job, do more than what’s expected. No one owes you anything. You’re not granted privileges without working for them.

Challenge yourself to be better every day. By making and meeting challenges, you’ll grow as a person one day at a time.

Surround yourself with love

Surround yourself with people you love and love them with your whole heart. When you feel you’ve reached the ceiling of your love – look for more. Love unconditionally realizing everyone has something to offer.

When you feel like you’re alone - search for beauty around you - concentrate on the best things life has to offer:

Like when a mother holds her child for the very first time.

Or when the sun sets bright orange in the sky.

Or when your child laughs.

Or when someone tells you they missed you.

Look up at the sky

Understand the universe is huge and you are not at the center.

Find a star in the sky and be thankful you made it through another day.

Understand nothing in life is guaranteed. Know that those stars numbered, day by day, will provide you with a clear mind.

Fill your heart with faith and hope

Believe in a higher love; understand everyone has problems and know we will all see our share of misery. In the battle between misery and faith make certain faith wins every time.

Surrender your life to a higher power, realizing life might not seem fair, but your reaction to pain and suffering is what matters.

On that cold morning, Diane said:

“Everything you need for a happy life already exists inside you. You’ll never know when life may end, but no one can afford to be miserable."

Think of the innocence of a child. Walk with your head held high and your eyes wide open. Remind yourself you’re young, vital, and important and maybe someday when you’re old and gray someone will come along and tell you that you look 23 years younger than you really are.”

Reading back through this, I realize that my conversation with Diane did not stretch on for as long as it might take for her to tell me all these things, but I do know that it is what I took from our one-time meeting.

Here's hoping that Diane is somewhere celebrating her 103rd year of life.

Looking just 80.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

The Bottom Line

I wrote this back in 2002. Found it kicking around a computer file. It fits into how I'm thinking at the dawn of 2012. Ten years goes fast, my friends.

Some friends of mine are battling the serious illness of their child. Having been down a similar road just a short time ago, I found myself praying for them – wishing that I could buy them a truckload of faith, hope or love.

As I considered this, it occurred to me that sometimes it is impossible to grasp the meaning of faith.

How do we find faith in the face of the events of September 11th? How do we make sense of unknown enemies that want to destroy us? Even more importantly, how do we move forward when the very foundation of our faith is shaken by the unspeakable actions of those in leadership roles in the Catholic Church?

Truthfully, how do we find faith in the eyes of an ailing child?

It is the very mystery of human nature. Yet, when people know some of the dark things that life holds in store, there is still belief. If you are open to it, there are times when faith just explodes into your heart. It’s there in the face of a woman in the immediate moment after giving birth.

It’s alive in the beauty of an auburn sky on a summer’s night.

It surely doesn’t matter what kind of shoes you walk in. There are thousands of religions out there, but they are all predicated on the same set of beliefs. Although sometimes catching love and faith is a little like trying to hug a rainbow, there are undeniably moments when we are allowed to glimpse the treasures of God. It’s in the smile of a friend or the hug of a brother.

It’s in the voice of a father or caught in the sound of the howling wind.

When the world is at its darkest we often search for a sense of faith, hope or a belief in love because the bottom line is that that’s all there really is.

Where there is beauty there is hope and where there is love there is divine love and that’s what you need to pull you through.

It is in the kindness of a stranger or the laughter of a child. Sometimes all that we can ever hope for is that someday we will grasp the true meaning of faith and love.

If you have a moment, help me find a truckload of strength for my friends’ daughter –they really need something to hold onto right now.

Let the possibility of beauty into your life.

Fun While It Lasted

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