Saturday, July 31, 2010

A Farewell to a Friend...

"Hey, hey, there she goes now she's walking down the street again
Shuffling down the sidewalk, scuffing up her brand new shiny leather shoes
And all the stray digs, they hissing out cause they all wonder where she's going to
As early evening light keeps her shadow out of sight
Sleeping soft, hidden from view"

These words, written and sung by a much wiser and worldlier man than I, seem to capture the excitement and reservations that one may have while about to embark upon a new adventure. It serves as a warning, I think, to let the subject beware; as well as to serve as a lesson to those of us not brave enough to follow our hearts.

An old friend of mine is about to venture off to set sail on such a life changing adventure.
She's killing two birds with one stone, both following her heart to a new land, and being the inhabitants' teacher in the ways of the western world.

She's a classy woman who likes the finer things in life, but also is able to see the good in virtually everyone she meets.  I'm both proud of her beyond words, and sorry that she has to travel to the other end of the Earth, in order to find that which she seeks.

I hope that you are as accepted and loved in your new country as you are here.
Our best wishes of fortune and personal fulfillment to you!
Come back to us with many smiles and tales of your successes.

I wrote these words a couple of months ago to let a friend of mine know that she is highly respected, and will be heavily missed as she ventures out into this big and wondrous world.  Stephanie, safe travels, and good company to you in your new endeavor!  May the people you meet take you in as one of their own, and may the experiences that you happen upon beget the stories that keep you laughing, smiling, and charging forward to newer, bigger horizons in your very bright future.

My very best to you,

Ben

Friday, June 18, 2010

A Simpler Time




As I sit in my comfy chair, smoking my pipe, my mind drifts away.  The stressful surge of never-ending stomach juices calms, and I think to a time when the most stressful thoughts in my life were that of whether or not I'd finished my English homework, turning my spelling words into cleverly crafted sentences to properly entertain and bullshit my teachers into believing that they'd done their jobs for the week.

I see 322 Center Street, the mammoth Victorian house that was built in the 1800's.  I remember the summer nights chock full of neighborhood-wide games of hide and seek.

I'd usually found my way past my brothers, either hiding behind a now 200+ year old oak tree, or in a heavily shaded spot nestled between a foothill and the large stone wall that divided our gigantic yard in two.  If those places didn't cut the mustard, there was always the large doghouse we'd had for Honey, our monstrous golden lab.  My perceived genius for hiding was second only to the utter silence with which I stole through the night.  I was the only one who thought to remove his shoes in order to further muffle the impact of tiny feet on whatever surface they contacted.  Half the time I tagged someone, it wasn't that I had outrun them... They simply never heard my approach.

The wooded swamps out behind the houses boundaries were always fantastic settings for the myriad forts, and stockpiles of comics, toys, and later on, low-grade fireworks.

The dirt pit that surrounded the largest of the trees in our little kingdom was the arena in which we held the G.I. Joe wars, with matchboxes, Transformers, and my favorite, SpiderMan.  Recently, I read and article pointing to certain bacteria in soil that has a certain antidepressant quality about it...  It's no wonder we were so content to revel in it, wearing no shoes, and knowing no fear.

The only thing better than any of these things was the greatest childhood experience of them all...
Saturday morning.  My Hulk jammies were the only armor I needed to do battle with a gargantuan bowl of cereal, or in slightly later years, scrambled eggs, as I was then allowed to do some light cooking.
All this while watching the greatest cartoons of all time.  6am.  I'm up, downstairs, and watching SpiderMan and His Amazing Friends, before the alarm could ever even attempt to sound.

My pipe on a cool summer evening suddenly seems less magical, and my worries more mundane...
God, to be a kid again!  To be able to see the special and wonder in even the smallest, most trivial of surroundings...

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Try, try again...

Smoke free again. Just trying to work my bumbum off to keep busy. More details to follow...






Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Failure...




It's come to this...


I fell off the wagon.

I fell off the wagon and hit my head on every board, nut, bolt, and screw on the way down.

I'm smoking again.

I gave in like France in WWII.

No shots were fired, no blood spilled.

I gazed upon my ex and embraced her as if we'd never parted.

You may now call me the nicotine slut.

I call it stress.

You call it an excuse.

I say you're right.

Either way, it's a crutch, and it's jammed up into my armpit nice and hard.

Bummer.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Missed On Mother's Day


Hi everybody…

For those of you who don’t know me, I’m Ben. I’m one of Sue’s sons. It’s important to me to say a few words. It’s hard for me to do this, so bear with me. I just want to share with you a few thoughts and memories that stick out in my mind to illustrate Mom’s love of laughter.

Mom’s the kind of person that loves to have a good time. She loved to laugh and strove to make others laugh. Hamming it up with friends and family was as much a passion as it was a pastime for her. Anyone who’s known me for more than 15 minutes knows that it was a trait that she’d passed down to me and my brother, Sam.

Sam and I were little miscreants growing up so we got in trouble a lot. You don’t have to have great math skills to compute the fact that by the time we had both reached the age of 17, we’d spent at least a third of our collective lives being grounded. But, we knew our mother’s weakness! In the process of getting caught doing something stupid, we were sometimes lucky enough to do something goofy and make her laugh before she lowered the boom. Sometimes we got off the hook…sometimes not.

Sometimes we brought our “A” game and were able to reduce her to a jiggling mass of silent laughter, tears running down her face, inability to talk, etc. We knew in our sadistic little hearts that a reprieve was there for the taking. Sometimes we pushed even harder, resulting in a momentary loss of bladder control.

We were completely aware of this chink in her armor, and exploited it to the best of our abilities. Like I said, we were troublemakers, and we were very good at our jobs. We also knew that stuff didn’t fly with Dad. Luckily, she had Dad for backup. Mom and Dad were two completely different animals when it came to disciplinary action. Where she had a soft spot for buffoonery, he had the best poker face in the parenting business. He also had the ability to wait for us to accept our punishments and would relocate himself before even so much as cracking a smile. Yeah, Dad, Mom told me about this. And here we thought we just weren’t funny enough all those years.

One of my most recent memories of my mom’s love of laughter takes place shortly after my wedding. Mom was laid up in the hospital with pneumonia. She was lonely and stir-crazy. She cried a bit in frustration. Sam had called to let me know, so Kate and I left work and drove up to see her. We said “Hi” to her, gave her a hug and stepped out for a cigarette.

I was worried. Praying for Mom had become a daily habit; I’m sure that this was true for most people in her life. This day, thankfully, the results were immediate. We went back to her room and let ‘er rip. I can’t remember if it was Sam or me that had made the first move, but our timing was eerily flawless. Faces were made, voices were mimicked. On cue, the laughter started. Mom’s raspy, thinning voice issued forth a giggle. Like a shark sensing blood, we pursued. She was laughing! The sound of mucous being forcibly ejected from the human lung had never sounded beautiful to me before, or since.

Earlier, I had seen a dispenser for latex examination gloves mounted on the wall. I briefly wondered how badly they’d gouge us for them. Probably cheaper than antibiotics… With a lipstick that Mom had, we drew faces on the gloves. Sam and I pulled them over our heads like a couple of deranged superheroes getting ready for an epic battle. We exhaled sharply, inflating our rubber headwear. Suddenly, Mom was in the company of two of the goofiest looking visitors ever to walk through the hospital doors.

Next, it was her turn. She got the smiley-faced glove on her head, laughing like a crazy woman, inhaled, bared down, and made this horrible, slimy wheeze as the strange alien head sprang to life. She was too busy laughing wildly to realize that an orderly had just entered the room to check up on her. We weren’t sure which, but he either thought he was mistakenly in the wrong ward or had just begun to question his career choice.

Off popped Mom’s glove-head. That silent, jiggling quake of laughter had arrived. The urgent look of panic that we’re familiar with surfaced. Pure adrenaline coursed through her system as she leapt out of her bed, IV rack in tow. She had made it to the bathroom in time…barely.

Our visit wound down quickly. We sat and chatted for quite a while. Just before we had left, the orderly sheepishly poked his way into the room, visibly terrified as to what he’d discover next. He seemed both relieved and disappointed that we were all just sitting and talking. We said our “good byes” and “I love you’s”, glad that Mom was in much better spirits.

This is a wonderful memory that I hope I’ll always carry with me. It’s just one little bizarre chapter of many that we have been fortunate enough to share with our mother.

Many of the people in this room have had a similar episode from time to time with her. I’m glad that I’m standing here right now, sharing this with all of you- her family. That’s what you all are as soon as you walk through these doors, even if there is no blood relation.

So, in conclusion, Mom, we love you. And, I’d just like to thank the big guy up there for giving us a great soul like Mom’s to know and love and laugh with. God, I know that you’re watching and listening. She’s gonna laugh a lot. But, if you guys make her laugh to the point where she goes silent, GET HER TO A BATHROOM QUICKLY!!!

Monday, April 27, 2009

Sunburn, Beer, And Satisfaction

What a busy weekend.

On Saturday, Kate and I participated in the "Walk A Mile In Her Shoes" fundraiser. It's an organization looking to end violence against women.

I was one of the guys who didn't wear heels. Crocks were the order of the day. Flat, no real distance from the groud = uninjured Ben. (I hit my head constantly.) The track itself is a little bit more than a mile... Very easy walk if you're not wearing heels. The sun was definitely hot as it beat down upon us. I love sun. I'm still not used to the impact of not smoking on my blood sugars levels. I ended up having some kind of near fainting/disorientation because I hadn't eaten enough. I'm not used to eating regularly. Yucky.





Sunday Kate and I stayed home, and did some gardening together. We weeded and cleaned up the flower beds in the front/sides of the house. Later she went shopping at the local Hewitt's for mulch and other goodies. As she did this, I was out mowing the lawn and weed whacking. There's really nothing quite like busting your butt, then enjoying a tasty, ice-cold beer. It was nice to sit back after all the work and take a nice breather. When Kate got home, we mulched.




Then we made Dinner! It was fantastic. Cod Filets, asparagus, tomatoes, onions, mushrooms, and garlic - on the grill.




It was an exhausting weekend. Lots to do. Oh yeah... We got a lovely sunburn too.






Friday, April 24, 2009

A Night Out


Ah yes... Once again it's that time. The last Friday of every month - Troy Night Out. Always a ton of preparation, running around, and of course... Stress.


My wife's shop, down in sunny Troy, NY is a favorite haunt for the shopping folk. I know. I'm the guy in the back room serving them wine. I never really appreciated the the role of bartender before. Never thought much about it, really. In hindsight, I guess that's just what I am. I hear the interesting conversation, get approached to be the "judge" in friendly bets or the occasional spat. Sometimes I get to stand uncomfortably close to some creepy couple that wants to "hang out" with my wife and I. I watch the grazers who just eat for what seems to be an eternity.

Like watching an accident, you can't help but look while one lady with her McCain/Palin campaign button hanging heavily from her long-since discolored, yellowing hat

removes her dentures (while standing in line, at the table) in order to more efficiently cram a fistful of onion dip into her mouth. Every time I witness it, I thank the sweet lord that I get to glimpse part of the fish-white underbelly of the open house culture. God, I wish I had a hidden camera to document this stuff. It's like flipping through the tv channels, expecting Geraldo, but instead accidentally landing on "World's Most Shocking Childbirths".


Don't get me wrong. I love to help out Kate, and I pride myself on doing a job that no one wants to do. It's an interesting way to be a fly on the wall. You overhear, and see the strangest things. I love it.