Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Christmas always brings back memories of some of the best presents I ever got.

I still have one of my first toys; a train engine ride-on toy. It is jet black with a gold bell and a little bellows operated whistle I would pound on to announce my arrival.

To prove that I've always been a geek there was the year I got the GIANT 4 foot tall model of the Apollo 11. This was the complete Saturn V rocket that was taller than me that came apart in stages and had a separate lunar module so I could recreate an entire Apollo mission.

I have been scouring Ebay and trying to save a few bucks to collect another geek toy from my childhood; Major Matt Mason. He was a posable rubber action figure in while space suit and helmet. This was not as articulated or durable as a GI Joe because the rubber body was built over a wimple wire skeleton which would give out and poke out of an arm or leg after a few months use like a sickly broken bone. He had a cool jet pack, spider moon crawler, 3-story moon station and alien friend with a green see-through skull.

My belief that I had musical ability was probably seeded in the electric chord organ I got when I was either 11 or 12. An instrument that sounded more like and asthmatic bagpipe than a musical instrument, I would pound away "Beautiful Dreamer" for hours on. I was confused, years later, by sheet music that did not have letters and numbers in it.

The months of fall just before Christmas were Mission:Impossible time for me. I would search every inch of the house searching for my Christmas stash. My mother was done with her shopping my August so I knew that my gifts were wrapped and ready even before I went out Trick or Treating. I would set off on my safari armed with the double edged Gillette blade from my father's razor and a roll of tape. Once I would find my booty I would carefully slice through the tape just enough to either see what the gift was or, in the case of an anonymous gift box, slide the gift out to open and see the hidden treasure.

The other side of this was it was also honing my acting skills as each year I gave a stellar performance that would garner applause from Larry Olivier. OK....yes, I was a little shit about it and I did feel very bad the one year my mother found out what I had been doing. I was 16 and I was getting a 35mm camera. I was overjoyed to get it and it became one of my most used gifts ever. I don't remember how my mother found out but I clearly remember she was more upset that my father had been so excited about getting the camera for me. My feigned surprise that Christmas was an extra good performance not only because I really liked the gift but because the entire time as I opened the gift my mother's eyes were locked on me with a wild homicidal glare motivating me with simple self-preservation.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

My ex-wife surprised me today.

We were on the phone comparing notes about holiday plans when, for some reason she said, "Oh! I was thinking of you the other day! She said it with a smile in her voice so I knew it was nothing with legal entanglements.

"What?" I asked, still pensively.

"We're having our kitchen cabinets redone."

That was all she had to say and we both broke out into laughter.

Back in 1980 I was working at WHIM, a country radio station in Rhode Island. My ex and her family were regular listeners. Actually, that's putting it mildly; the were fanatics. On either my first or second day on the job I was told about her family and was quickly added to their list of DJ's they call on an almost constant basis.

My ex was in high school at the time and had a crush on almost every male on the air staff. Jim O'Brien was first; her pubescent heart skipped a beat at the mere mention of his name and I swear still does to this day. Mike Bessette and I seemed to be second choice, and we were happy to be; it was a safe place. Kevin O'Connor seemed to fall into the older cousin she wished really wasn't a cousin and they have developed a strong friendship over the years. Chuck Hinman was older and seemed like an uncle of sorts.

All of us, though, we constant targets of almost endless phone calls, meeting them at almost every remote broadcast and numerous visits to the station. Needless to say, our relationship ended up going a little further than that, but that was years after leaving that station and could be a whole series of blog entries on their own. All the time I was working there we flirted with each other. I was a little bit older and I'm sure the attention from one of her crushes made her feel good. One of the first times our relationship stepped outside of the radio station was when he mother was looking for someone to redo their kitchen cabinets.

I was making little money working part time at the station and was going to college so the offer of a few extra bucks for simple stripping, re-painting and lining of cabinets seemed like an easy enough job and I got to hang out with my ex; which, at the time, seemed like not too bad a thing.

I must have gone there a half dozen time and gotten about half of the job done. Then, something came up and I never got back to finish. It's been so long that I don't even remember but it eventually became a joke between my ex and I. Of course, our relationship ended up like the cabinet job and I don't think she's ever mentioned it before today.

It was nice to hear the nostalgia in her laughter. She seemed to actually look back on something in our shared past with affection. There have been times, since our divorce, when we could not be in the same room for more than three minuets without breaking into shouting matches of insults and recriminations. Suddenly, I was back in the cramped studio in East Providence talking with a giggly teenager 2 minuets and 30 seconds at a time in between country western records. The "passionate" love is long since dead and gone but I can honestly say that I do love my friend after all these years.

It was the nicest present she never knew she gave me.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Apparently, I'm gonna live!

Of course, the results were met with the usual response.

My friend, Sondra, from the health clinic at Shawshank called when the results came in, "I'm shocked and amazed!"

"What do you mean by that?" I asked.

"You numbers are perfect! You're in great condition. I never would have expected it!"

"Oh, you mean I only look like shit?!"

I still haven't followed up with my doctor but after going over them with the clinic staff and google'ing the numbers myself everything does look pretty much text book. Which is a great relief to me. My cholesterol is normal, I am not diabetic and my PSA numbers (the one I was really nervous about being my first test for this) were normal.

The reason I haven't seen my doctor yet is because he is waiting for the results from the heart monitor I had to wear for 24 hours. While it was annoying enough to have wires stuck to my chest and an over-sized tape recorded hung on my hip not to mention the joy of trying to sleep and not dislodge any of the wires and contact the real fun was removing the five glues on contacts.

I felt so sorry for the technician when I removed my shirt and she saw the contacts glues not only to my chest but the fur like chest hairs. If you've ever seen Robin Williams in "The Fisher King".....well, I could have been a body double for him! Knowing the pain it would inflict, the technician suggested I remove the contacts myself. Figuring the good, old fashioned band-aid-one-quick-tug-and-it's-over would work the best. The girl jumped each time I yanked a contact off with it's own little clump of hair attached.

It really wasn't that bad. I finally got the damned monitor off me but I was left with five little bald spots.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Last night was our company Christmas party. For the past few years they have held it under tents in our parking lot and have always had a fantastic set up. This year was no exception. However, they promoted it as a "formal" event. Usually, it is set as a semi-formal, I'm guessing, as a celebration of our being merged with a bigger company.

Still, I wondered, did they expect some of us to afford formal wear on what we make at our jobs. I searched high and low and was able to find just the right "formal" attire that would reflect a Shawshank paycheck.

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The gentleman in the photo with me is my pal, Mel. He and I are the two surviving members of our training class from 10 years ago. He and I now have more seniority on the job than ANY member of upper management. We have seen CEO's come and go and to go from a company of 200 employees in a privately owned company to 2,000 employees of a division of one of the largest pharmaceutical corporations ion the country.

It is amazing that a dope who wears a tux t-shirt has survived 10 years in the coprorate world!

Well, at least until Monday!

Thursday, December 06, 2007

I gave in to my age to day and went to the doctor for the 50,000 mile check up.

It has been two years since I've actually been in the office and that was all I heard from each nurse, office clerk and the doctor himself. You'd think they'd be happy I've been healthy enough NOT to have to be there. I had been planning on this visit but have been experiencing an odd reaction to, of all things for me....eating.

Since my gastric bypass, every time I would have either pasta of dairy products I would experience a major fluctuation in my blood sugars, my hear would race and I'd end up taking a nap to let my body get back to normal. I've gotten used to it and it really wouldn't happen all too often. Occasionally, I would even use it as a cheat to get to sleep; a little Ben & Jerry's and I'd be off to la-la-land.

OK, not the best thing to do, but effective and lots cheaper then Ambien.

So I have had a couple of pints of blood drained out of me along with a few other bodily fluids and will be heading back to the doctor's office to get a heart monitor.

Ahhhhh.....the joys of being middle aged!

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

It's decorating time again at Shawshank and I dove in as I usually do. There is something missing from my display this year....54 Santas. In moving a box crammed full of the Santas I have collected so far has been misplaced. It is my mission this weekend to scour the garage to find them.

Until then.....

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This year I was very Martha Stewart when it came to the wrapping paper. I spent a total of 2 hours matching the pattern.
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And I'm glad I spent the time.
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Now if I can only find those danged Santas!!!

Monday, December 03, 2007

If you're a Beatles fan you fall into one of two camps; you either like Paul or you like John. There's no middle ground. You either think Paul was a master songwriter and John was a trouble maker who went astray mixing politics and music or you think John was a poet and Paul wrote jingles.

As I was driving around doing some Christmas shopping today Paul's "Having a Wonderful Christmas Time" came on the radio. I was in just the right relaxed mood that I started singing along with it. Suddenly I started listening to the bouncy electronic piano and repetitive lyrics.

Ding, dong, ding, dong
Ding, dong, ding, dong

The mood is right
The spirits up
Were here tonight
And that's enough
Simply having a wonderful Christmas time
Simply having a wonderful Christmas time

The word is out
About the town
So lift your glass
And don't look down
Simply having a wonderful Christmas time
Simply having a wonderful Christmas time

That last part of the chorus is repeated 10 times.

Compare that to John's Christmas song, "War is Over"

So this is Xmas
And what have you done
Another year over
And a new one just begun
And so this is Xmas
I hope you have fun
The near and the dear one
The old and the young

A very Merry Xmas
And a happy New Year
Let's hope it's a good one
Without any fear

And so this is Xmas
For weak and for strong
For rich and the poor ones
The world is so wrong
And so happy Xmas
For black and for white
For yellow and red ones
Let's stop all the fight

A very Merry Xmas
And a happy New Year
Let's hope it's a good one
Without any fear

And so this is Xmas
And what have we done
Another year over
A new one just begun
And so happy Xmas
We hope you have fun
The near and the dear one
The old and the young

A very Merry Xmas
And a happy New Year
Let's hope it's a good one
Without any fear
War is over, if you want it
War is over now

Hmmmmmmmmm......Which song carries as much relevance today as the day it was written?

Damn, I miss John!

Paul sucks!