Saturday, December 27, 2003

Ah, Christmas.

It has changed so much for me from when I was a kid. I think of Christmas and immediately get very vivid images.

Carroling with my church and standing in the cold. I remember our candle light services and the blind lady named Carol who sang "O, Holy Night". The years I would do midnight service at Greenwood Church as lector and having to sign up for it as soon as the next years' calendar went up in January. Visiting Santa and having a picture taken at Anne & Hope until age 10. I remember family gatherings at my cousin Kenny's and all those who were always there but aren't any more. Singing at senior citizens' homes with my high school choir. Turning on the lights around the house for my mother every night. How I hated to wrap presents because they never came out right. Buying presents for my Aunt and Uncle's dog, Dukie. The year I wrapped my self as a present for a girlfriend in high school and her parents actually let me lie under the tree. I proposed to both of my wives at Christmas. The look on my Auntie Alma's face when I announced the 2nd wife and I were getting married a little earlier than planned because of our son being on the way. My first Christmas with a family of my own. Each year since with my son and the anticipation of watching him open presents.

There are bad Christmas memories also. The year I answered the call a few days after Christmas that my Grandpa Cobb had died. The year my mother and I fought about having a Christmas tree after my father died. My first Christmas apart from my sons and the ugly scene with my ex and her family over presents one other year.

I guess I should be happy the good memories outnumber the bad.

One of my most lasting memories is how my father would wake me after "Santa had arrived". I would go to bed and a few hours later the man in red would come and I'd be woken up to see what he had left. I guess this was done because of my father's schedule at the police department. My parents' bedroom was right over mine, so my father would either stomp on the floor or hit it with a broom handle loudly to wake me. He'd yell out to me, "Jack, did you hear that?! I think it sounded like something on the roof! Better check and see, it might have been Santa's reindeer up there!" Sure enough, there were packages everywhere proving he had come and gone and I had just missed seeing him. It didn't dawn on me until years later that there was a whole other floor and ceiling between my bedroom and the roof, but it always worked like a charm.

When I became a dad I started a little tradition of my own which lasted for a while through the divorce. At my house Santa needed a little change from all the milk and cookie he had at all the other houses. When Santa came to the Eaton house there was pizza and root beer waiting for him!

This year has been great. The "young lady" was overwhelmed with my gift of a spa visit. Johnny loved what he got. I have also hit a milestone of sorts with him as well. Usually I would get his latest school photo as a Christmas present. I understood the situation given that my ex certainly wouldn't want to have to go out buying a gift for me and he is still young. He finally got me something else. And very thoughtful, too. A new shirt to wear. e had very quietly asked, a few weeks ago, what size I was wearing now. I never gave it another thought; just his keeping up with my weight loss. Then to open the gift that he had actually put some thought to was even more wonderful than the gift itself.

He and I have the whole week together. I am looking forward to every moment. Except, of course, when he goes back.

Sunday, December 21, 2003

Well, I seem to be back to my old habits of not writing for a while. I know I’m not working on the Great American Novel here, but I would like to be able to regiment myself a little better than this!

Actually, work has been keeping me very busy. Plus the fact my PC is so ancient it takes forever to do anything; that sometimes hinders me from posting. All is well. I feel as if I’m actually getting up to par as a Team Leader at work. I gauge that by the fact I haven’t been called in to my boss’ office in more than three days! I have had a few moments in learning to deal with people as a manager, but I’m still getting my sea legs.

Things are still on a positive track with the “young lady”. She is very sick right now with whatever is going around these days so we didn’t see each other this weekend as I had hoped. Thursday she did call me and suggested lunch together. I almost knocked over furniture running to get there! I have gotten her something very nice for Christmas I’m hoping will make an impression. She had been hinting recently about how much she wanted to see “Lord of the Rings” but ended up going by herself on one of her sick days. Then at lunch she very pointedly said that she would love to see it again! I am taking all of this as indications this still has very strong possibilities of going somewhere. I am doing my level best not to jump the gun on anything emotional with her. I figure any talk of “wherever this is going” would wait until after one or two more dates.

Patience….. patience. This is my mantra!

Thanks to Guardian Storage my Christmas has been messed up. I have been with them for 10 years. In the past year I have fallen behind a little and racked up some late fees. This I freely admit. I had been paying them, some times not as much as others, but paying them something on a regular basis even at the worst of times. Three weeks before Christmas they put me in a lien where I have to pay $250 by the 30th. I was livid. I was every worst customer I’ve ever talked with. I did try reasoning with the manager but his answer was, “I’m sorry, sir, but we have to have this cleared off our books”.

My answer was, “When it’s cleared off your books, you can plan on my belongings being cleared out to another storage company!”

I know they have a waiting list. I know I’m not a big money customer. But I was a loyal customer for 10 years.

Ah, life in the big city!

Sunday, December 07, 2003

My mother has been dead 4 years today.

I can still hear her laughter. I can still see her smile. I remember her touch. Her voice when she yelled, sang, whispered and just talked.

In one of my last conversations with her, I promised her that I would be alright in life. I often wonder how well I have kept that promise. Things happen every day that I wonder what she would have thought of the situation. I wonder how events in my life would have been affected if she were still alive. How she would have loved watching Johnny growing. How proud she would have been about my promotion at work. What she would have thought about my surgery. What she would have thought of the “young lady” and me.

My father has been gone for 25 years and I do think the same about him sometimes. Mostly when it has to do with Johnny and the ‘young lady”. What would it have been like to go out drinking with my father? How would his face have looked the first time he held his grandson? What would it have felt like to have him come visit me in my own house for the first time? What we he would have looked like at my wedding(s)? What would my last conversation with him have been like?

I envy my sisters for having known both of them longer than I did. They knew them when they were young and more active. They knew them as children and adults. My father, especially, was a different person when I was growing up than the one my sisters knew. He suffered two major strokes by the time I was 10 and it affected his personality. It wasn’t a Jeckyl and Hide kind of thing, but he was slightly altered from the person he had been. Right before I moved from RI I had tried getting together with one of his oldest friends and ask what my father was like when he was in his 20’s. I regret not having met with that friend; yet, anyways. Maybe pouring this out like this will encourage me to make a phone call at least.

Luckily, I had Johnny younger than my parents had me. I plan on having those drinks with him. Going places with him. Being there for him. Seeing things happen in his life that my parents missed. Or, I guess, those at which I missed having them.

Saturday, December 06, 2003

Tonight was the company Holiday Party. I had a great time. Well, almost; but I'll get to that.

The whole place was decorated very well with a winter wonderland theme. My friend, who has the job of putting these together, is now set in this job for as long as he wants with this successful party under his belt.

By the end of the night I was wearing a tinsel bandana and having a fake snowball fight with a friend's daughter. I even danced for the first time in I don't know how long. It felt great. I received an Honorary Mention as "Salesperson of the Year". That was nice to be recognized; even tough it is more a popularity contest that anything based on actual sales ability.

The "young lady" did show up with the guy she's seeing. A Neanderthal of a moose. I kept my cool and shook his hand. All the time looking at the scaffolding with the lighting above him wondering if any of them were loose and, if not, if I could climb up there! I went on to my second vodka/cranberry and decided to have a good time.

I take comfort in the not too strong terms she has used to describe their relationship. If you could call it that. I keep hopping that patience will work out in the end.

The worst part of it was that she look so damned gorgeous!

Tuesday, December 02, 2003

I received of the shortest and simplest emails ever. And it made me cry.

I got a Christmas greeting from an old friend, Jeffrey Thomas. Jeffrey is the director of Camp Aldersgate in RI. Just three shorts lines brought back years and years of memories and flooded me with emotion.

Aldersgate is a summer camp run by the Methodist Church. Upon reflection, I noticed that an entire quarter of my life is tied up in Aldersgate. I first attended as a camper in the summer of 1974. Well, you could call it attended, as I bratted my way out of camp early through an unbelievable homesickness fit. Then in 1980 Don Gothberg asked me to help out there as part of his photography sessions during what was called "Living Arts Camp". From then until I left RI in 1994 it was difficult to keep me away from there.

Physically, it is one of the most beautiful places on earth. Hidden away off the major roadways of rural RI the camp surrounds a peaceful little lake. I don’t know how many acres and cares of woods and paths. A place where you can forget the problems of everyday life and take a long, slow breath and thank God for each of those breaths. Some of the buildings have changed slightly since ’74, but it’s still a refuge well worth the drive.

Ten years totaled I have invested in camp. The number and richness of the people I had met there is staggering. I fell in love there. I had my heart broken there. I struggled with problems of life there. Spent my first married moments there. I mourned the same marriage on the same spot where my bride and I danced. I miss going there so much. Once I have enough vacation time at work, I plan on trying to return there on a yearly basis to counsel again.

It amazed me how quickly all these memories and emotions returned. I could picture every step I had ever taken there. I could feel the dirt paths under my feel. The cool shade of the trees. The smell of the lake. The sound of the dining hall.

I marveled at how easy the internet allows us to make those connections. How it keeps us connected with people. I still don't know why this seems easier than writing a letter or making a phone call. Maybe it's all part of how lazy we've gotten. With the internet we don't have to put a stamp on an envelope and bring that to a mailbox. It's all so instantaneous. What we might have given up in style and intimacy we have gained in sheer volume of those we can contact.

Recently, they printed a book of Ronald Reagan's letters. Apparently, he was an avid letter writer. While we can emote and be creative at a keyboard just as well as we can on paper; there's still something intimate and personal about taking a pen in your hand and writing the words down. Is that a conflict with how I have opened myself up here on this blog? I honestly don't know; but I love instant gratification as well as the next guy!

Sunday, November 30, 2003

The worst part about my visits with my son is bringing him back.

He slept most of the way there which gave me the chance to just look at him. He amazes me. Here is a life I brought into the world. He is an independent, living, breathing, thinking individual who would not be here if it weren't for me.

I look at him and I think of the past. I imagine myself at that age. It floods me with memories of age 12. I remember Junior High School. Trips I took. My parents. My house. Things I did to pass the time. Friends I had. I also thought of how many of those things are still a part of my life today. I took all those memories and tried overlapping them with his life today. How does he look at things? How does he perceive life? What is important to him?

I look at him and I think of the future. I try to imagine him at my age. I picture the two of us getting together for drinks and talking about life. I picture him bringing me his first girlfriend. I picture him handing me his first child. I picture him resting his hand on my cheek and telling me goodnight for the last time.

So many times this weekend I wanted to just grab him and hug him till it hurt. He's going to be amazing to watch the older he gets. I'm glad I'm going to be there to watch as much as I can.

Saturday, November 29, 2003

What great weekend this has been.

Thanksgiving started things off wonderfully with an early dinner at the invitation of my supervisor, Molly. It was great to spend time with her outside of work and to meet more of her family. I didn't get to compare notes with her on the way home as her son came with us for the ride; that should be interesting at work Monday.

That evening went to Cheryl's for a "Leftover Thanksgiving Party". It ended up being the two of us. At times I wonder about this group here. I often compare them too much to the crowd back home and am disappointed. I continually try to whip them into excitement over things like this but get the most lukewarm of responses. It seemed as if, with the McAuliffe, it was not even a second thought that you'd be spending time with each other. Work schedules, planning and other considerations were never even though of; it was second nature to get together with each other. I have to keep reminding myself that this is a different group of people in a different setting. Not to say I love these people any less; my life in Florida would not have been as good as it has been without them. Ii just have to remember that, in many ways, this will never be home and I cannot remake it into that.

Johnny and Kathleen showed up after a slight detour through Jupiter. I don't know who I was happier to see. My son is getting so much bigger and handsomer. He seemed very impressed with my weight loss. Kathy and I had a chance to talk about it. She is very happy and relieved. She is still certain I was going though a depression during my weight gain no matter how much I try to convince her otherwise. I always had a good self image of myself, no matter how fat I was. For crying out loud, I even had a pretty young girl interested in me before the surgery. How is that depressing?! I think I may have passed.

The one test which was driving me nuts was keeping from reaching out to her during the movie. I felt so inhibited by the boys being there; possibly a good thing. There was a time when we were elbow to elbow and I wanted to take her hand. It was electric. I did get a hug at the end of the "date" and I made a point to grasp her hand in a goodbye as I got out of the car. It may be a while before we get together again as we both have different plans for the weekend; but it so seems like the next time will be the perfect time to start talking about feelings. I've already been practicing what I want to say in my head. It makes perfect sense to me when I hear it. I can only hope she agrees when it makes it over my tongue.

Tuesday, November 25, 2003

Today was one of my worst days ever at work.

For a while things have not been the best with my team. Management has decided there isn't enough profit in what we have been doing and we are being disbanded and moved around. Most of my team, having not been there as long as I have...or as gullible as I am, are not used to the Liberty way of doing things. My latest sarcastic catch phrase is, "You can't spell logic with Liberty"! So they are looking on this in a purely personal level; that they are the ugly step-children of the company, that "they" are out to get them, ect. Then it happened.

There had been a big sales push over the weekend and everyone who worked was supposed to get a $25 gift card for their efforts. Two of my team members had never done re-orders before and felt very uncomfortable trying during such an important sales drive; not to mention compliance issues. When it came time to pass out the cards today, one of my team members was left out. It was explained that she hadn't entered any orders at all and had left early. I was livid. It was unfair and the worst possible timing. She had tried. She did help out in an administrative way. She also had managerial approval to leave early. My supervisor and I are buying her a card out of our own pockets. Unless someone from another department tells her she will think she get to card late because of a paperwork screw-up and I will have saved a good employee.

I'm still upset by it as I type this 7 hours later. Every one of my team members are good employees who have put forward an unbelievable effort in the face of all kinds of obstacles and deserve recognition. I took it almost as personally as the employee did. I'd like to think I am the opposite of every bad boss I've ever had. In the face of our being disbanded, each team member has said they want to stay together as a team and me as their team leader. Makes me feel good about the job I am doing and further vindicates me, at least in my eyes, to how long it took me to get where I am.

Don't think I forgot the "young lady". From the moment she got in today she was having a bad day; she was in total work mode. We sat together at lunch and almost immediately after that the gift card incident happened. I joked with her saying she had jinxed me. I also said she owed me for it and had to pay me back by smiling. She happily did, hopefully thinking it was a romantic cutesy gesture.

Not too much of a surprise; when she flashed that breathtaking day did improve!

Saturday, November 22, 2003

I cannot let today go by without commenting about November 22nd.

The first time I read anything about the assassination of President Kennedy was in the 6th grade. I had found a book called "Four Days" in the school library. I must have borrowed that book a dozen times over. As I got older I found the books of Mark Lane, Robert Goldberg and Josiah Thompson. I have been to Dealey Plaza twice and even own the same model rifle allegedly used by Lee Oswald. When I finish this I am going to drop my DVD copy of the Zapruder film in the player. I might be what some news reports of the past few days call an "assassination devotee".

I guess "devotee" is a perfect word for it. I am devoted to the truth that will someday come from the assassination. I might not see it, but hopefully my son or grandchildren will. It took more than 100 years for all of the differing theories surrounding the Lincoln assassination to be proved or disproved.

I do not believe Lee Oswald acted alone. Whether he was part of a conspiracy or was, as he said, "a patsy" I can't say with certainty. What I can say with certainty is that some part of the government had a strong hand in making sure the right story was sold to the American public and media.

My mother could never understand my fascination with the assassination. "Let the man rest in peace," she would say, "What good does it do to keep bringing this up?" She had passed away before I was old enough, with enough life experience, to express it enough to make sense.

If someone like the President of the United States could be taken out as he was, then what chance has any one of us have? If parts of the government can work in the shadows and either orchestrate or protect such a horrendous crime for purely greedy purposes then what value does the country have left? Jack Kennedy deserved better. This country deserved better. Myself, my son and his grandchildren deserve better. An un-elected government came to life that afternoon and our country has never been the same. If it was the single random act of a lone nut it is sad enough. If it was the planned and calculated act of any part of our government it is sad beyond words and makes the actions of those the likes of Nixon, Marcos and others pale in comparison.
I have just gotten off the telephone after a four hour call with the "young lady" OMIGOD! The only way I knew so much time had passed was by how my need for a bathroom visit grew. And there was no way in hell I was going to end the conversation before she wanted to!

We talked about work related stuff for about 90 minutes and then all about our sons, religion, family history....just about every thing. We laughed. We confided. And I kept hearing that whooshing sound. I think I still have that same stupid grin on my face I had during the entire call. This was amazing.

The one thing I did learn was that she has been seeing someone. Not that I'm deterred, though. I don't want to go into much of the details here. Suffice to say the window of opportunity for yours truly may still be wide open. It looks as if we will get together Sunday and she offered the idea of getting together with both of our boys next weekend. HER IDEA!

Yes, Johnny is coming for the weekend next week. My sister, Kathleen, is picking him up on her way here on Friday. I am so looking forward to seeing his reaction to my weight loss. I don't think he can remember me as anything but big. I imagine his eyes bugging out gigantic-cartoon style. It is going to be so good just to have him around here again. I've missed him so much.

This "young lady" slays me. She makes me speechless. There was a moment today, when I was trying to be smooth and debonair about suggesting a possible get together, and the minute she got to my desk every word I had prepared in my mind disappeared. A complete void! I stared at her like a lobotomy patient with out a thought in my head. She appeared to think it was a cute moment and I did make her laugh.


I am so floored by that fact. She apparently keeps opening the door of opportunity for me. She talked a little about the relationship she is in and I had all I could do not to open the flood gates emotionally on my end. My friend at work has been dubbed my "sponsor" It's like n AA, you call your sponsor whenever you feel you're going to go off the wagon; my friend talks me down from saying something stupid or moving too fast. She is so lucky I don't have her home phone number or I'd be calling her right now!

I was so stymied when she started talking about what is happening with the guy she's seeing. I wanted to offer myself as the perfect alternative. OK, so maybe that would have been too much. Fighting to trip over my tongue was that I hoped my interest in her wasn't a problem. But I kept it inside. I decided to let her steer the conversation at that point. I'm waiting until after next weekend with the kids before I go that far.

On advice from my "sponsor", I haven't said any of the thousands of things I really want to say. I haven't gone off the wagon yet. But when the conversation was being steered that way I certainly felt as if she was trying to push me off!

And I want to be pushed off!!!!!

Sunday, November 16, 2003

I just got back from a weekend at a Star Trek convention in Orlando. What a great weekend I had. Myself and 5 of my friends went together. I also was able to reunite with my friend, Dave Ryan, and his wife who have just moved to Tampa. This is the first time in a number of years we have seen each other and now, with us being within the same state borders, we can look forward to seeing much more of each other.

I have been going to these conventions since 1975. I can still remember the anticipation and excitement I felt at my first con. After the dozens and dozens I've attended I still have as much fun as I did "back in the day". It is an opportunity to connect with old friends and make some new ones. I'm hoping I made a new friend this time as I took the opportunity to buy one of the actors, John Billingsly, and his wife a drink in the bar and at last count he thanks me 5 times for the drink. We also took pictures together, along with my pal, Cheryl. Prior to leaving I gave Mrs. Billingsly my name, address and phone. Who knows what will happen the next time we meet; I plan on offering dinner. I missed out on having a cast friend from the past two Trek shows and it's about time I got on the ball!

One of my strongest memories of my first con is who it was that brought me there; my mother. She could never understand my interest in science fiction and Star Trek. Constantly shaking her head as I joined clubs, went to conventions and spent untold dollars of lots of items that to her were piles and piles of crap. However, it was her who drove me to Boston for my first con and it was her who floored me by once buying me a very expensive Farberwear Star Trek dinner plate. It's amazing the small, yet poignant ways a parent can express love. I try to do that constantly with my own son. Luckily, we share some of the same interests. We are constantly talking about movies, cartoon shows, music and other topics that would bore other parents to tears. But, just like I smile and think of my mother when I pay a ridiculous amount of money for a chunck of fiberglass shaped like a TV prop; I hope sometime, when he's older, Johnny will think of me and smile when he looks at a Kid Rock CD we listened to together or SpongeBob Squarepants video we laughed at together.

Thanks, Mom.

Thursday, November 13, 2003

What a beautiful day in the neighborhood!

We had our date and it went perfectly! And most of it is a blur to me right now. That whooshing sound kept coming back.

I called our order in early so it was ready and waiting for us when we arrived. Perfectly executed. We sat and talked; getting to know a little about each other. There were only a few awkward moments when I stirred my soup, not know what to say next. We talked about our sons, work and a little bit of our histories.

I found out that she is 21 years old. She was born in 1982! If I knew that exact date, I could tell you where I was and what I was doing when she was born! I'm not bothered by the age difference but I know I'll get razzed by any number of friends and family. As a matter of fact I had passed this blog address onto my best friend Harry and he immediately started in on me. He called me at work, from North Carolina, to see if I had gone on the date yet. What a pal!

One thing about the lunch that I didn't know until I got back to work was that two of my friends, both major ball busters in their own rights, were two tables away from us the entire time. They were very well restrained, regardless of the temptation, and did not come over and harass us. One of them did tell me later that there is an elderly man who serenades them ever time they go there and they had planned on sending him to our table if he showed up. Phew! Dodged that bullet.

The reason I didn't see them was that I had tunnel vision the entire time. If I wasn't eating lunch I probably wouldn't have been able to tell you that I was even in a restaurant. All I could see was her. Damn, but she's beautiful.

She said she had a great time and agreed to a second date. Hopefully something with a little more time involved. I consulted three women and came up with a card and small decorative candle to give to her as a thank you gift. Something sweet, but non-committal. I am so going to take this slow. I don't want to do anything to jeopardize the possibilities.

Johnny has told me about his attempts to get a girlfriend. We were on the telephone once and he said to me, "Wednesday, I might have a girlfriend". I am looking forward to calling him and using those same words to him!

Wednesday, November 12, 2003

Tomorrow is "D Day".

That's "D" for DATE!

Yes, we are definitely going to lunch together tomorrow and I have never been more nervous in my entire life! I know I should have nothing to worry about because of all of the positive signals I keep getting. I'm just hoping that things go well and that this can develop into something good.

I lived up to my eccentric side today. As part of a morale booster program Liberty had what was called a "Compliance Carnival". It promoted knowledge of certain business and federal guidelines we have to follow and the reward for that knowledge was the ability to either throw a pie in the face or dunk in a dunking tank a member of management. We had our own portion of this in the pharmacy earlier in the week, but I had saved some chances so I could go to our corporate office and dunk the CEO.

Keith has a great sense of humor and is a wonderful sport. I was the very first in line. My second ball hit the target but did not dislodge the release holding him above the water. I was rejected. But, true to form, I hung around and when they called him to go to the pie throw I ran up and hit the release with my hand. Keith paid me back with a big wet hug.

Well, I spent a half hour trying on different shirt and tie combinations for tomorrow. I've been imagining and rehearsing different conversations in my head. I am sure it will go well. It's just that I have 14 hours of self doubt and nervousness to go through first!

Sure.....I'll sleep good tonight!

Like Al Gore on election night!

Monday, November 10, 2003

Well, I finally did it. I actually went over to the "young lady" at work and asked about the date. OK, so it took me from 9 - 11AM to build up the cajones to actually make it over to her desk. There were at least three or four times that I was within two steps from her and spun on my heels. It's amazing how she has turned a 41 year old man into a 14 year old teenager asking a girl out for the first time.

I used a work relation situation to break the ice. Then, I made "my move".

"I was going to call you this weekend", I said.

"You know, I was going to call you, too", she replied. She went on to tell me what it was. However, I couldn't hear her over the loud whooshing sound and the distracting white light of hearing a positive response from her. Once the blood returned to my head and my ears were working again I was able to continue.

I swallowed the dried out basketball which was lodged in my throat, "It had dawned on me that we haven't been having much good luck trying to get together here on Mondays".

"I was thinking the same thing", she answered.


Apparently, she couldn't tell I was shaking more than a jello factory on the San Andreas. "I was wondering if you'd be up for some kind of alternative?"

She smiled that smile which wounds me and said, "Sure, that would be great."

She went on to explain that weekdays are sometime difficult between work and taking care of her son. Made sense to me. We decided that weekends would be better. Again, the fates seemed
against us because of my plans to go to Orlando this coming weekend. So, we made our same tentative plans, this time for the next weekend.

I walked away, smiling and happy. Then all I could hear was my supervisor and Cheryl berating me for letting a prefect opportunity slip through my fingers. Everything the both of them had told me was absolutely true. She was interested, she continued to be interested, she kept on opening the door for opportunities for me. I was an idiot!

I was determined not to fail today.

“You know, I always remember the good stuff to say about five minutes after the end of a conversation. Want to hear it?”

“As long as it’s something good.” There was that smile again. Luckily, my eyesight was not affected by the whooshing.

I suggested possibly doing lunch together outside of work. She immediately countered with the fact that she had an hour-long lunch coming to her. Again, opening another door of opportunity. I was beginning to enjoy the whooshing sound.

I had done it. My heart was still beating. The sun was still in the sky. And a beautiful, young girl was seemingly eager to go out with me. Today was a victory on many levels. It was 6 years ago to the day that things started developing with a girl I almost ended up marrying. A long, ugly story which has haunted me for years. I was determined not to let that memory overshadow what happened today. I think I was so determined because of how strong a hold the past was having on me. I am bigger than a bad memory.

The one good thing I will take from that memory, and others in my life, is to learn and grow from them. Maybe, just maybe, if this turns into a “relationship” I can do the right things to make it one for the books.

Well, let’s get lunch out of the way first.

Sunday, November 09, 2003

I have been challenged by one of my best friends to get my ass in gear with this girl from work. My friend, Cheryl, and I went to the movies last night. (PLEASE go see the "Alien" re-release before it disappears from theaters! DVD is good, but nothing will ever replace seeing something on the big screen!) At dinner we got into a discussion about my lack of initiative. Cheryl and I have always had a remarkable relationship. We butt heads, we debate, we argue, we fight and communicate like no one else in my life. She can cut through the bull and give me the honest and true answer that was staring me in the face in the first place. I hate her for that sometimes....just because she has the talent to be able to do that.

One of those truths is that I have absolutely no reason not to make a move. All of my reasonings, rationalizations and excuses failed to hold water. And Cheryl was absolutely right. The times when I pointed out how ridiculous I knew I was being she looked at me with a look in her eyes where I could see she was holding back the impulse to whack me in the back of the head.

Friday, at work, the "young lady's" 3 year old son came into the office. I jumped out of my seat and tried interacting with him while at the same time trying not to be too much of a barreling freightrain. Any chance to make a better and stronger connection and I'll take it.

I know, know; "make the REAL connection, you idiot!"

Carpe diem, baby!

Thursday, November 06, 2003

I just weighed in tonight and I have lost another 22 pounds since 10/9. This brings my total lost to 135. I now weigh 377 pounds! I am about halfway to my goal of 230. That is what I weighed at the time of my first marriage in 1988. I felt good then and thought looked good too. If my body decides to go further...BONUS. If I go below 200 pounds I'll kiss Dr. Vaughn on the mouth!

Everyone congratulates me on the wonderland job I'm doing. Hell, I was unconscious at the time of the surgery; the doctor did all the work. I am forced to follow the game plan at this point. If I eat too much, or the wrong thing, I puke. How hard is that to follow? I feel better than I have in years and am more than happy with my decision. I can hardly wait to see Johnny's face when he sees me again. Hopefully, Thanksgiving.

I feel like such a boob today. I have been trying to get together with a "young lady" at work. History so far, I got up the nerve to ask her to "get together sometime for dinner or something" and she said yes. Then our office moved and I didn't get up the nerve to follow up on the original invite. Then, out of the blue, she asks if she had given me her phone number. We exchanged numbers and she said that she goes to a particular club every Monday and we could meet there. Seemed like a nice, low-impact first date. Then she got sick the first Monday and had a "MONDAY" the following week.

As I stated in my last post, I did not want this possible relationship to be a regret. So, all day Wednesday I practiced what I was going to say; suggest an alternative date since our original plan seemed doomed. The words never left my head that day. All day today I kept muttering to myself, calling myself "chicken". I was trying to motivate myself to talk to her. Still nothing. I have Friday to look forward to my surpervisor and friend continually walking by my desk making clucking noises!!!

I am so gun shy of something going wrong and her losing interest that I'm made mute. I feel like I did he first time I ever asked a girl out. That was almost 30 years ago, I should be able to walk up to another human being and confidently tell her how much I want to get to know her and spend time with her because she is intelligent, intriguing and beautiful.


Tuesday, November 04, 2003

I just watched the latest episode of "* Simple Rules" and I cried like a baby. I was not what could be called a John Ritter fan, although I thoroughly enjoyed this series. It was the amazing way they told the story. It was a scene between the remaining family when they were discussing how they remembered their final moments with his character. The regret of the last words being angry, spiteful or hurtful. I immediately flashed back to a moment with my brother-in-law, Dick, after my father's death 25 years ago. I felt, at the time, that he had never known that I love him because I had never told him so out loud.

I wanted so badly to call my son when the show was over. He and I are always telling each other that we love one another. I am always hugging him and outwardly showing my affection for him. There was a period, when I was about Johnny's age, when I didn't want to kiss my father good night but opted to shake hands. It was a "getting grown up" thing. I felt so much more adult when I shook his hand instead of kissing him. MEN didn't do those things. I hope my son never asks to shake my had. I never want him to be standing by the edge of the ocean screaming to the sky that his father died not knowing how much he loved him.

A quarter century later, I know my father loved me and I know he was aware of how much I loved him. At 16 you just aren't coherent enough to realize such a thing. I will never take for granted those "unspoken feelings that we are supposed to know about each other. Those around me will always know how I feel.

This has also sparked my motivation towards the "possible new relationship" I've hinted about in past posts. I want as few regrets in my life as possible. The chance for good relationship and happiness is certainly not something I am going to let slip through m fingers just because I'm a little scared to talk to a woman.

To quote the Jack Dawson character in "TITANIC':

"Make it count"

Sunday, November 02, 2003

I was so wiped out from the talent show that this is my first chance to post something. Well, I did try last night, but my dinosaur of a PC died halfway through a really good riff. Hopefully I can get back on topic.

I was in so much pain Friday, I took some pain killer so I could sleep comfortably. Friday was a hoot in itself. Not only was I still coming off the high from the talent show, but it was Halloween. I went to work in my black and grey Starfleet uniform and a pair of el cheapo pointed ears. Hey, it was within Liberty dress code!!!

My love of Halloween and the talent show are all a part of the frustrated actor in me. If I could write about everyday things the way I have about Liberty, I probably wouldn't be working there! I was told once, years ago by a friend, that I would make a great character actor. That has haunted me since. In high school I had won a state-wide drama award; aspecial one created just formy performance. I never followd that dream, or my radio career, because I was too rooted to home. Now, I'm living 1300 miles away from what I still consider home and I'm still alive. What a dope I was. I keep watching celebrity interviews as they talk about thier childhoods and how they think of acting and life syaing to myself,"I used to do that" or "yes,that's exactly what I think"!! And I Monday morning quarterback my entire life.

As I've said in my first post, I am tempted to storm Orlando. That may still happen. Winter is big community theatre season here in FL, so I may give that a try as well; time and transportation considerations included. I just feel it's an itch that has to be scratched. I can't keep on just dressing up at work for the rest of my life when I feel I could actually make my work be dressing up!!!

Thursday, October 30, 2003

I just got home from the phenomenal evenings. Liberty just had the 2nd Annual Talent Show. The whole cast was great and the audience was wonderfully responsive. I did a standup routine. It's the closest I'm going to acting for the time being. I LOVED IT! My pacing was much better than last year and I even got our CEO on stage with me for a joke. I always wish I could write about everyday stuff and really give comedy a try. If I could be as good with regular material as I have been with company-based humor I wouldn't be at Liberty much longer. It gives me a taste of a life I wish I had.

But tomorrow it's back to normal. Ah, well. I would write more but I'm exhausted and I had a little whiskey for the first time since my surgery and my pillows are calling.

Monday, October 27, 2003

I was all excited on my way home. I had a great idea for a posting. It stayed with me through changing out of my good work clothes and chores I had to do around the house. I had it all outlined in my head; it flowed perfectly and made a wonderful point about a salient aspect of my life. Now, as I sit here I can't remember word one.

Is this part of being 40-something? I don't feel 40-something inside. I even call myself a"Toys R Us Kid" in the title of this blog. My father was the father of 4, Sergeant in the police department and homeowner by my age. JFK was running for president at 41. I still do my 12 year old son's Christmas shopping by getting stuff I'd want. I do, however, have a 401K account. When I told my mother I had started the account, she asked me for ID, to make sure I really was the Jack she had known.

I wonder if they'll have a Sponge Bob Squarepants horn for my walker when I hit my 90th birthday.

Sunday, October 26, 2003

Well, I'm doing as well as I did back in the 70's. I guess I didn't have much to write about anyway. Or the excuse that I was too busy. My job at Liberty keeps me very busy, then yesterday I had a Halloween party to go to immediately after work.

I made a major personal gaffe at work Saturday. There's a co-worker with whom I had been able to very freely joke with since she joined the company a few years ago. I even started up a Seinfeld/Newman slant to it in which all of the jokes started taking a personal/ranking twist. I took it too far yesterday. I had thought it was an understood thing between us that this was OK. When I dropped my last joke she quickly told me how hurt she was and to get as far away from her as possible. While she may have been able to avoid such a drastic moment by telling me this had been bothering for a while, I was devastated by how what I always saw as the fun side of my personality could have a dark side. I really like her, enjoy working and working so well with her, and treasure the friendship we have developed. I almost ran out of the building to get a plant and card to apologize. Within an hour it was over and forgiven; however the affect of it has lingered.

I had flashbacks to my second wife. We had met in the early 80's when I was a DJ at her favorite country radio station. She is younger than me and at that time was still a kid. I began the same kind of joking I had with my co-worker. Over the next 10 years we developed a strong friendship, went through some bad relationships, eventually found each other romantically, married, had a son and divorced. As my co-worker asked me to remove myself from the planet I could clearly hear the same sentiment, almost the same words, echo back from my ex-wife.

Growing up I had asthma, glasses and was generally considered a geek. Thanks to parents with a great sense of humor I learned to use comedy to defend myself. I am a huge Kennedy buff and learned that they, and many strong, and large families would use biting sarcasm and humor as a way of strengthening their character and proving dominance over each other; an early version of the rap battles as seen in the movie "8 Mile". So, as I grew I honed this skill and got pretty damned good at, if I do say so myself.

Looks as if I missed one very important lesson. When and how to use that skill. My ex-wife was supposed to be my life mate, not someone over whom I was supposed to prove dominance. My co-worker was supposed to be a team member not someone against whom I needed to defend myself.

I'm glad I finally learned the difference. Luckily, it was before irreparable damage had been done to my relationship with my friend. Damned shame I hadn't learned it the first time around. This time I hope it sticks as I face the possibility of a new relationship in my life. Maybe old dogs can learn new tricks.

Friday, October 24, 2003

Hello! Welcome to my little corner of the universe. I have tried doing one of these a couple of times. Hopefully, this time around, I'll actually keep up with this and make entries on a regular basis. The last time I did that I was in Junior High School! Here goes nothing!

A quick synopsis of the past 41 years of my life. I am currently living in Florida. Having been drawn here from my native Rhode Island by the need to be close to my 12 year old son, Johnny. He is the pride of my life. Right now, due to many circumstances, I do not see him as much as I'd like, but we have a good relationship and do talk a lot of the telephone. Even without the constant contact since age three, he has some of my traits, a wicked sense of humor and we share many interests. OK, some of mine he just puts up with...just like I do with some of his. All of the things you hear about parenthood are true; it changes your life.

My life stared out a lot differently than I imagined. For many years I tried a radio career. I was not up for the WOLD life of moving up and down the dial, so that died out after about 12 years. I get the itch every once in a while to get back into it. However, right now I have a very good job with Liberty Medical Supply. (The medical supply company Wilford Brimley does ads for. I've met him...very cool little guy!) After 6 years of toiling on the telephone I have just gotten a supervisory job. If you know me, you're probably laughing at me being a boss. So do I sometimes. But it's working out well and I have the respect of the sales team I lead and my supervisors and management. That is very cool!

I also hold onto an old dream of being an actor. Hell, Danny Aiello didn't get started until he was just around my age! I've even had an actor friend of mine say I'd be a good character actor. Being in Florida, I'm very tempted to storm Orlando and try to get into voice over and cartoon acting. Old dreams die hard.

I look around my life often and wonder how I got to where I am. I have friends who are in the same boat financially and socially that I am. I also see friends who are where I imagined I should be by now. I sit here in a trailer park in Florida with my head spinning. I don't want to sound pessimistic, because that's something I've never been. My past 9 years here in Florida have been life changing for me. When I came down here, I lived in my car for almost two weeks. If I can survive that and move to where I am now then there isn't too much the fates or God can throw at me that can get me down.

As I write I hope to do a lot of what I did back in the 1970's with my little composition book. Get crap off my chest. Share events with whoever wants to read. Give you an idea what it's like to live life, maybe give you someone with whom you can relate. I might even make you laugh. Old dreams die hard!