Saturday, May 30, 2009

What's Not to Like?

So, a friend and I went to see Little Feat last night. I had never seen them live, so was looking forward to it, knowing of course it would never be the same as seeing them while Lowell George was alive. We weren't certain about the weather, but after a storm pushed through and it cooled off some, we were optimistic. After a little tour of Silver City (aka Celebrate Virginia) we found the Celebrate Virginia Live section of town. Parking was a mini adventure, with several folks spinning their wheels in beautiful red mud. The parking attendants got a little smarter, and had us park where there was more grass, and Bill backed the car in.

We ran into friends on the way in, and after catching up briefly, were on our way to will call. A friend was kind enough to give me two free tix, so we picked these up and were on our way. We picked our way through some mud, saw more friends, and made our way through the crowd to stake our claim. At this point it became very apparent that we were in for a little mini Woodstock: mud, hippies (albeit the 21st century variety), and some very drunk (or something) music lovers. Even if the music sucked, this was going to be fun!

Found a decent spot, set up our chairs, and then stood in line for beer tickets and then beer. As we sat back down, the folks immediately in front of us were getting a bit raucous, and one guy threw beer all over the girl next to him. One person in their group was pissed, but the girls behind them were even more so, and promptly moved. This gave us the equivalent to a bulkhead seat, with no one directly in front of us, which meant more people used this area as a walkway, and gave us even more to look at.

Which brings me to the crowd. Wow, a feast for the eyes. Young hippie type girls doing hoola hoop (and very well, and not just around their waists), old hippies wandering around with that vague expression in their eyes, obviously reliving their youth and glad to be there, grandparents with small children -- it was the full gambit. I saw women my age, missing several teeth and fully made up (seriously, quite the contrast) strutting (or was it staggering?) about and thoroughly enjoying themselves.

Bill and I watched, sipped, and chatted. The music started, and I have to say I was underwhelmed. It vaguely sounded like Little Feat, but lacked the crispness and clarity that were such trademarks of their sound. It ended up being more like a beer party with music accompaniment than a concert, but it was still a fun time. After about six songs and on-again, off-again rain, we decided to head to the car. About halfway there, the rain came down harder and we were very glad we'd made the decision to head out. Bill eased the car out of the spot with no problem, and we were on our way.

It was a good time, and I'm glad we went. As a friend said to me today: music, mud, beer, and rednecks -- what's not to like?

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Five Days of Family

Rebecca and I went down to Florida last Thursday. We surprised my mom for her 70th birthday, and the surprise went off without a hitch. Rebecca and I hid in the restroom of the restaurant where mom and my step-dad were to meet my sister and her family. When they got in and got settled, we came out of the bathroom singing Happy Birthday, and the rest of the family joined in. Mom had her back to us, and turned around smiling (she thought it was the wait staff singing...), and then her eyes grew wide as she realized who we were. Big hugs all around, and then we had a great dinner and laughed and talked. Rebecca actually did a little video of the surprise part, but I was having trouble loading it so will try to do that again later. It's kind of funny, but I think mostly mom will appreciate it.

Timing worked out so that we were able to attend my nephew's graduation from high school the next day. It was a long afternoon, but worth it to see his face when he saw us all up there together supporting him. Then out for another great dinner.

During this time Rebecca and I stayed at my sister's home in Deland, FL. She and her husband are going through some tough times financially, but are seeing light at the end of the tunnel. They'll come out just fine, I'm confident. They have one more child to graduate, next year, and then will be empty-nesters. Wow.

On Saturday, my sister and her husband had more company come, in the form of his brother along with his wife and their daughter and new son-in-law. Along with a niece who had arrived the same day we did, this made for a nice little family get-together/get to know each other gathering. Lots of food, drink, and laughter ensued. Then Rebecca and I went back to mom's to spend the night. We enjoyed breakfast out with them, and then I spent an hour or so by the pool before getting ready for the trip home.

All in all, it was a great weekend of family and fun. The only real damper was when I spoke with my brother on Saturday afternoon. I was able to get more information regarding the distressing situation between he and my sister-in-law. While it is too personal to go into here, I will say that he is truly suffering and hurting right now. His wife has isolated herself from her own family and will not discuss anything with them. In spite of my brother giving her, free and clear, a house, $20,000, and full medical coverage for her mounting health problems, she is determined to get more, and to insist on pushing him into lifestyle changes he has made clear he wants no part of. Hence, the arguing that led to her filing for a restraining order against him. He has never harmed his wife, never lifted a hand to her. But she is desperate, and is resorting to desperate measures. Despite her recent actions, he is still willing to give her more money and make sure her medical care is taken care of, but she seems bent on pushing for a divorce and getting even more out of him. It is a bad situation, and not likely to get better any time soon. My heart breaks for my brother, and for my sister-in-law, and we all feel helpless as they struggle through this.

Thursday, May 14, 2009


This one will not be easy. I'll say in advance, I'm posting this here because it needs to be put down. Feel free to comment, I welcome insight, but probably won't want to talk about it.

Back story: my brother lives in Reno, NV. He is 53. He ended up out west back in the late 70s. That in itself has a long story, and here's the quick version. Dropped out of high school, had a couple of jobs, got in trouble, lost one of his best friends to a tragic accident during a camping trip, took off on a bus (never forget that day) to New Mexico, where he worked and lived for a while (and oh how I wish I'd saved the letters he wrote...), eventually came back and apprenticed as an electrician. After retiring from the Navy, my father had started a company that would be doing work overseas (in Iran, just before the hostage crisis), and my brother signed up. This was amazing, as up until this time their relationship had been very, very rocky. This working together proved to be a very good healing time for them, and my brother matured. Unfortunately, during this time my parents' marriage dissolved, and my father came home to try to salvage things. My brother witnessed the anguish my father experienced, and thus began a rift between he and my mother. This was especially upsetting, since they had up until then been very, very close. Not long after dad and my brother returned from Iran, my brother decided to load up his truck (a 56 Chevy pick-up he had named Rosebud, shift on the column) and drive west. His girlfriend invited herself along (she was escaping something else entirely) and he agreed. They lived in Gillette, WY for about nine years, and ultimately moved to Reno for better jobs.

At some point in this relationship, brother and g.f. married. It was an uneasy relationship in many ways. She became a Jehovah's Witness, and my brother is pretty much agnostic. He likes to drink, and she viewed the drinking as a problem (and one she was trying to fix by witnessing to him often.) At one point they separated, and she called me and told me more things about my brother than I cared to know (including how rough he was during sex.) Then they reconciled and made a second go of things. Unfortunately, the problems ran deep and they ultimately separated again. During this time, the wife was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis (her mother had ultimately died from complications of this disease and it's treatment) and she needed medical care, but was not insured. So, they came to an agreement which involved not finalizing the divorce so that she could stay covered under my brother's health insurance. Then things became so bad (complications from mediation) that my brother agreed that she live in the house with him again, so that he could help take care of her.

Well, yesterday my mom called. I could tell by her voice it was something upsetting. It seems my brother was served with a restraining order yesterday at work. Mom was able to get out of him that they had an argument over the weekend (the same as always, her confronting him about drinking and trying to witness to him, and him getting angry and telling her to leave it alone), but we don't know the extent of what happened. So, now he is not allowed to go home; to the home that he had opened up to her so he could help during her medical complications. He had a friend staying there who recently separated from his wife, and now he can't go back either.

The rest of the family is out here not knowing what to think; we don't know the extent of their argument, we don't know if she has reason to be concerned for her safety, or if this is another manipulation on her part (and there have been many) to control his behavior. It is hard being this far removed, both physically and through the passage of time. Obviously we want to reach out to him, but there is always the possibility that his reactions to her attempts to 'help' him were indeed angry, maybe violent. Difficult to consider.

Time will certainly tell.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Cue Euphoria

You've got to read this guy:

Excerpt: "So I did it. I started running again. And let me just warn you that your body doesn’t really care about how you used to run. I ran 17 miles last week and it was like climbing Everest. But, somehow, in spite of the pain and the panting, I found that part of me that used to love it. There’s a place, and you usually have to go longer than a half hour to get it, where your body kinda says “Fuck it. He’s not gonna stop and everything’s starting to hurt. Cue euphoria!” and there’s this whole layer of yourself that drops away. That bitchy veneer of you that moans and whines and complains just gives up and the python in your head suddenly dies of unknown causes and turns into butterflies or some other poetry shit."

That one line, you know, the one that starts with, "Fuck it..."? That's the mantra that needs to keep going through my head. This guy needs to be my running coach, seriously.

I hadn't run in a couple of weeks (you know, the rain, cuz I'm a wimp and it is so easy to talk myself out of doing something I really don't want to do...), but I decided to try yesterday, but it hurt. My ankles and my shins hurt. So I walked some more, thinking I needed more of a warm-up than I already had; then I tried to run again...but it hurt. I did this about three more times, and then said, "Fuck it..." but the sentence ends differently than the one above. Because I ended up walking for an hour, and gave up on the running. And the whole time I'm thinking, "Well, walking the half marathon would still be an accomplishment, right?" This whole conversation in my head, fueled by the ever-present guilt that comes from god-knows-where that seems to plague me no matter WHAT I do...but I digress.

So then I come in this morning and I read Black Hockey Jesus's post, and it's a sign. I have to do this. I have to keep running. I have to push myself, push my body, and achieve this goal. Ugh.

Anyone want to run w/me tonight? It'll be fun, I swear. "Cue euphoria!"

Monday, May 11, 2009

Just need to put it down, not angry, but...

...I'm a little frustrated. Previous conversations regarding stereotypes and judgment have left me wondering what the heck is going on. Why is it that the things that make folks feel a part of a group and 'unique' to that group are the very things that put them on the defensive and even cause hurt feelings? Why is it that folks don't like to be pigeon-holed or qualified, and yet possess certain traits/phrases/habit they feel are exclusively 'theirs' (I believe one friend's friend termed it self-segregation.) I've been put in my place with little comments with regard to all of this, and I'm mildly annoyed. What happened to the melting pot that is America? Why insist on letting me know that I've somehow judged you (which I have not), and at the same time let me know that I can't understand because it's a (fill-in-the-blank) thing. Whatever. Maybe I can understand. Maybe I don't speak your language, but I am not immune to your exclusive remarks that attempt to keep me out of your loop. What do you know about me? What do you know about where I come from, how I grew up, what I've experienced, what makes me who I am today? Before getting your hackles up, please do us all the favor of checking your own pre-judgments and self-segregation. You'd be surprised how much we all have in common, and the differences we have are what make us who we a good way. Why can't we all just get along...