Sunday, July 30, 2006

“Humanitarian aid in the U.S. has begun arriving in Lebanon. The U.S. Government sent 10,000 medical kits, 20,000 blankets, $30 million cash and today the people of New Orleans said: ‘They did what?‘”-Jay Leno

Just another thing to ponder if you were stupid enough to have voted for George W in the last election.

Friday, July 28, 2006

John is here for the weekend and we started off tonight with some bonding over music. As he is maturing so is his tastes in music. Now that he has gotten his first guitar and is learning how to play his interests in music have begun to turn to some of the greats in rock music; some of my favorites and this gives us more of a chance to bond. I have seen him through all different tastes in music as he has grown; from boy bands to hip hop and rap.

As part of his education I sat him down to watch part of the 1985 Live Aid concert when Queen took the stage. I'm not sure if it was Queen or Kiss that was my first rock concert but Queen has always been one of my favorites. I saw them two or three times in concert and there was no one else who could take an audience with the control the Freddy Mercury had. And to see him work his magic on the tens of thousands in Wembeley Stadium is still staggering 21 years later. I got chills as I watched Freddy strut across the stage. My eyes welled up as the audience played right along with him at his slightest whim. I remembered the experiences I had of seeing him in concert. And then I got pissed off at him again for dying.

Some of the best talents of our time seemed to have had this fated life. They burned with such intensity that it was almost a certain thing they would never last forever. Janis Joplin and Jim Morrison were the products of their time. James Dean and Ritchie Valens were unfortunate accidents. John Belushi and Chris Farley were victims of their own excesses.

But Freddy had to have known the chances he was taking. I joked with John, seeing Freddy with his slicked back hair and trimmed moustache, that no one was really surprised when the news of his illness was announced. "Oh, yeah...well Freddy's gay". No shock. And I don't know the details of when he learned he was sick but the way it played out was that he had become sick long after the threat of AIDS had surfaced. Everyone was talking about it and it had gone from being a disease about which there was no information to one that could be avoided and dealt with as a part of the gay lifestyle. Freddy had to have known the risks he was taking but he seemed to continue to take them and he ended up paying the ultimate price. It was such a monumental waste of a talented life. And I still get pissed off at Freddy for dying.

At least there is still footage of him like Live Aid. When you can watch a master at work. To see the intensity in his eyes and hear the power of his voice. Just a shame John will never experience it the way I did.

Damn it, Freddy. Why you?

Sunday, July 23, 2006

So much has happened in the past week that it is somewhat hard to put into words. First of all let me reassure any of you who know me well enough, that I DO have a handle on this. While I would like things to go a certain way I know they might not and I'm OK with that. I have helped a friend in a time of dire need and that is the bottom line. Friends here and those of you who have posted are shaking heads and wishing they could slap me in the back of mine. But I do have a handle on this.

Stephany was VERY sick and while there were friends and family there to help I helped her through some of the roughest parts. She still has a tough time ahead of her in trying to give up smoking but she seems to have the desire to do so.

Where do she and I stand? That is very much up in the air. We had a long talk the other night and I laid it out plain and simple for her, "This is the boyfriend you could have had!" I told her that I realize that we may have grown closer in the past week but she has many things to work through. When she feels she has a better handle on where she is in her life, we can talk about how I fit into that.

How am I dealing with this? Pretty well, actually. I have put a lot of how I feel about her to the side until she approaches me to talk about it. I am still her friend and will help her as much as I can. But there are things in my life which have been put aside in the past few weeks that I need to attend to and for my own emotional well being I have to keep the deep emotions I have to the side.

Do I want thing to change between us? Would I like her to finally realize the potential I see? Yes. But my life cannot and will not be on hold while that possibility dangles in front of it. I have and will reminded her from time to time with a joke or two. Time will tell.

Is it screwed up? Am I crazy? Should I never have gone to help her? Am I really being honest about my feelings? I ask myself these questions all the time as do those around me.

Again, time will tell.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

My baby is 15 years old today.

I called him first thing this morning to wish him a happy birthday and I would swear that his voice is deeper than it was two days ago when I talked with him last. I know it's just my imagination playing tricks on me but just the idea that he is 15 years old does that to me.

I have not been staying at my place the past few nights. When I got home from taking John back to his mother's Sunday night there was a message from very sick friend. My friend ended up so sick that I left works Monday to help out. My friend is a smoker and on top of already having bronchitis has just developed asthma and was in the throws of the very first asthma attack ever. I have been able to calm my friend and teach some relaxation and breathing tricks to help get through. My friend also has some anxiety issues which feed into the stress of the asthma attack and only make things worse.

Oh? My friend. You can shake you head like everyone else around here.....


I have to get back to her place as I have been taking the "night shift" taking care of her through the night and giving other family and friends a break.

OK, stop shaking your head.

I will go more into detail on this and how I am coping when things have died down and I have a chance to really digest how I am feeling.

Stop shaking your head at me!!!!

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Apparently, you should not blog when you're on cold medication. Thanks to Lisa for reminding me of the down side to this past weekend at Shore Leave; the redecorating at the Marriott Hunt Valley Inn. I don't know what kind of drugs the management was on when they decided to redecorate but they must have been very illegal and very cheap because the result was worse than some of the hairpeices Burt Reynolds wore during the 90's.

The Hunt Valley Inn was originally designed to resemble a hunting lodge. The McCormick family had it built to serve as a hotel to serve the business needs of the family-run spice company which was headquartered nearby. It is sprawling and spacious with dark and warm color schemes, exposed rafters and loaded with inviting spaces. The lobby welcomed you as if you were walking into someone's home. The lounge between there and the restaurant looked like a living room.

Now these areas, in an apparent attempt to look like every other hotel in the world, looks as if they hired a mad movie set designer and told them to create an airport lounge. The lobby is awash in bright indirect lighting and centerpieced with what looks like a bank teller counter. The comfortable and cozy furniture of the lounge is now replaced with a highbacked set of demented art deco style semi-circular couches which have turned a communal gathering place into four "cells" from which you have to stretch and strain to see the rest of the room.

And then there's the bar....

The Paddock Bar is gone. This was also once in keeping with the open inviting feel of the rest of the hotel with comfortable chairs and delicate lighting but has now been replaced with ten-ton metal high backs and Christmas tree lighting. Atop the bar itself are these two....I guess art pieces, which look sea anemone. Also gone are the themed art pieces which kept with the hunting lodge theme of the hotel. Since the theme is gone, so is the name. The Paddock Bar is now the Cinn Bar. I've looked....CINN is nowhere in the dictionary. It's's sucks!

I understand that after some time redecoration does have to happen. Things wear out, paint fades and styles change. For 20-some odd years I have been coming to this hotel for Shore Leave and part of the draw has been the hotel. While most hotels look like every other hotel on the planet the Hunt Valley Inn was unique. Now it looks like Joe's Hotel. It looks like they hired a mentally challenged Feng Shui consultant because this designer Feng-ed up all over the place.

All of the elements they were trying to add to the hotel have been crammed into the space and physical architecture of the building itself. It all stands out too much and does not blend in at all with its surroundings. The Christmas tree lights are fit in between the exposed rafters. The sea grass grown from old style brick planters and small uncomfortable furniture tries to fill large rooms.

The worst example of what was wrong with the redesign has got to be the carpets. Some of the original remains but in certain areas and, like other elements of the redesign, crammed into small panels in high traffic areas are designs of bright gaudy and conflicting color schemes. It looks as it the designed took a handful of fluorescent colored crayons and simply started scribbling. One design is an odd set of circles done in reds, yellows, greens and oranges. I think one of the reasons I came home sick from this year's convention was due to an allergic reaction to the carpets!

It wasn't just me either. The redesign was universally panned the entire weekend. It was mentioned by the stars and got mentions during the masquerade and the Sunday night entertainment. It is probably tilting against windmills to expect that the Marriott company would really listen to the complaints and change things back but I hope those who said they were going to complain do and that some reaction is heard from management. All I want them to know is that they have made a serious mistake and forever ruined what was once a unique and beautiful hotel.

Friday, July 14, 2006

This is the first chance I have had to post about my annual trip to Shore Leave because I came home with an unplanned souvenir; a cold. It started Monday morning as we were leaving with a scratchy throat and has yet to give up residence with a runny nose and clogged chest. I would have rather had the t-shirt.

Other than that it was a wonderful weekend. Wrapped around the usual fun of Shore Leave was the 20th Anniversary Reunion of the USS McAuliffe. If you haven't seen references to the McA in my posts then you haven't been reading closely enough. These are friends of mine for, well....the past 20 years and a gathering was planned at this years con. Shore Leave was always a major road trip for everyone in the Boston area, so it seemed the logical place for a get together.

This year it was only my friend, Cheryl, my son and I traveling from Florida and this year we opted to fly. It did make for a easier trip although I did miss the stop at South of the Border. There is always next year.

Friday morning had us rested and ready for a day of sightseeing in Washington, DC. We headed first to Arlington Cemetery. Neither John nor Cheryl had ever been there so I enjoyed sharing it with them. Being there with my son was we approached the Kennedy gravesite brought back memories of a similar trip with my father. He really enjoyed watching the changing of the guard at the Tomb of the Unknowns.

After leaving there we tried in vain to locate the "Exorcist Stairs" in Georgetown. Not an easy thing in the one part of DC with which I am not that familiar. It did give the both of them a chance to see parts of the city they had not seen.

The highlight of the day was finally making it to John Eaton Elementary School in Cleveland Park. For the past three years I have been trying to get there and it was certainly worth the wait. Seeing the pictures on the internet was one ting but to actually pull up in front of a large brick building with my own name in bronze on the front....I laughed out loud.

We first took some photos outside and then entered the hallowed halls. Maria, the Business Manager was all smiles as we walked in. She quickly introduced our tour guides, 10 year old Grecia and 8 year old Amanda. These two girls took us through almost every single room and closet in the building. They politely answered all of our questions about the school and told us which rooms were theirs and where things went in each room and shortcuts from one part of the school to the other. They were adorable. They had a problem getting their minds wrapped around the concept that both my son and I had the same names. Still, they were impressed enough that we had the same name as their school. We posed for more pictures and then were presented with books on the school and t-shirts. John got the really cool one with a picture of the school on it. Mine just says, "Eaton"; as if I have problems remembering my own last name.

Not only was the Boston crowd there but my old pal Lisa was there. She travels each year with a groups of her friends from upstate New York. She is one of my dearest friends. Which is why I let her believe I was not attending this year. Actually, at one point I almost wasn't until a friend came to my rescue. Still, in time honored Shore Leave tradition this trick is regularly pulled on someone. This was Lisa's turn.

As always, the convention itself is secondary to spending the weekend with friends. However, guests this year included a number of actors from "Stargate" and my favorite from "Farscape, Gigi Hedgley. From the "old school" crowd, which I always enjoy seeing, were William Schallert and Kent McCord. My father would have loved the fact that I got to meet Kent McCord. Adam-12 was one of the shows we always watched together. Adam-12 is also a childhood favorite of John's stepfather and we had a little bit of fun with that. John has a cell phone with a camera built in which we used to take a photo of the two of them together. We then emailed it to his stepfather's cell phone while he was out on patrol.

The first three nights were filled with parties and drinking. In the past I have held this at bay when John has been along but he's a year older now, was asleep for most of it and I did have a broken heart to sanitize with the alcohol. Not that I've gotten as intoxicated as I have in the past but there was that one embarrassing moment when a friend of mine reminded me of part of the evening I couldn't recall....with John standing right there to hear the whole story.

Ahhh, chalk up another childhood memory added!!!!

All in all a great weekend as always and we begin the countdown to next year. I have posted photos from the trip here.

Monday, July 03, 2006

Well, I'm single again.

I don't even know where to start on how this whole thing unraveled except to say that Stephany had a whole bushelful of issues going on that made a relationship next to impossible. I tried holding on as long as I could and eventually she is the one who pulled the plug.

But we'll get to that in a moment.

The major issue is her family. There is the oddest of family dynamic going on in which control of the family is exerted by her grandparents. She seems terrified of upsetting her grandparents over topics such as her smoking, length of her hair and people she dates. Now the family is preparing to move out of Florida and Stephany is compelled to go with them. She can't fathom being apart from them so much so that she would sacrifice a relationship, with me or anyone, in order to stay with her family. Michael Corleone wasn't as obsessed with his family as she is. She has no sense of her own self worth or self identity. It's sad really and I have told her as much.

Then, there was the way she ended things. Saturday night we were on he phone late. As we talked. I could hear the clacking of the keys on her PC. No problem, I multi-task all the time. When we finally hung up I walked the 7 steps from the phone to the computer and there was an email waiting for me.

Hey what's up? well not to much here just chillin and talking to you on the phone- anyway I know you have been wondering what's going on between us- well I have been thinking about it and I need to find myself- I'm not ready to be with anyone right now- like I told you in the beginning I am known to hurt people and that's the last thing i wanted to do to you.

The immense noise made by my heart being ripped out was deafening. I tried calling her but, of course, she didn't pick up the phone. The next day we exchanged a few emails and did eventually talk on the phone. I still tried to reason with her. It wasn't until I talked to her face to face at work on Monday when I could see in her eyes that her mind, as screwed up as it was, had been made up.

I have been through the remorse, hurt, and anger. Right now it is sadness. Not only for the potential I saw in the relationship but for the outlook she has on life. For someone that young to be closing herself off to life is really sad. The worst part is that she doesn't see it. It was only 9 weeks out of my life and it was good while it lasted. We learn from each person we meet in life and boy did I get an education in this one.

The biggest lesson I learned is that I have got some wonderful friends around me. They let me walk the tightrope I was on and when the time was right told me I was about to fall. They offered a safety net. They also were good enough to shake the tightrope at times to let me know just how dangerous a situation I was in. They let me make an ass out of myself and let me run with my emotions as far as I wanted. And now that's it's over they are patient and understanding as I put myself back together again.

Thanks Tracy and Patrick.

Onward and upward. There's rumor there are possibly two or three other women at work who might actually be interested!

Wow! All of a sudden...I'm a player!