Tuesday, September 1, 2009


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.


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.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

I Need A Lung Brush

Dear Readers (oops... I mean "Reader"),

I've just stumbled upon a website for those brave or crazy enough to just quit smoking "Cold Turkey". http://whyquit.com/ - Interesting site.

I can't stop coughing! I have enough phlegm built up to waterseal a large rowboat. The good news is that my head is less swimmy, and I can keep focus a little better.

Enough of the smoking stuff! I need to go to work. I'll have a more interesting post coming up.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Good Times

Love is a glass of wine, a good friend, and tons of tunes. Last night my good friend Lisa and I hung out at her new apartment, and relaxed. It was nice to not be running around fixing the computer problems of the world. My wife, Kate was out in Ithaca, NY for a concert (her favorite). I bought Lisa a nice bottle of wine as a house warming gift, and as we drank and talked and laughed, I was pleasantly aware of the music coming from her computer. We must have listened to hundreds of songs. Good stuff when you need to let some worries go.

BTW - I'm still smoke-free. When do I actually get to call myself a nonsmoker?

Saturday, April 18, 2009

A Bitter Divorce

Holy crap! I quit smoking last night (Friday April 17th). I've been a pretty heavy smoker for about 15 years, and let me tell you... I am climbing the walls. What the hell was I thinking? Oh well... This all stems from a trip to my local smoke shop. I, like many other die hard smokers, make my own cigarettes. You buy the tobacco and tubes, and use the machine to crank out a couple hundred of the little beauties at a fraction of their pre-made counterparts' price... That is, until April 1st.

A new federal and NY State 1-2 punch has inflated the price of my beloved from $25 for 2 cartons worth of love, to $87!!! When the smoke shop guy read this price to me, my jaw hit the floor. For once Mr. Smartass couldn't think of anything to say. I actually had to step outside and think about what comes next.

I made a snap decision in that brief moment. I'm not going to further line the pockets of a governmental system that takes half of my paycheck every year as it is! So now I'm paying for my idealistic knee-jerk reaction by chewing on my bottom lip, toothpicks, gum, you name it.

It's amazing how quickly the sense of smell returns.... My office reeks of old cigar smoke and ozone.


Welcome to my new blog! I've never done this before, so bear with me....