Twenty fingers, twenty toes,
two sweet babies with cheeks of rose.
Born on the same day, two gifts from above,
lives entwined, two babies to love.
Happy Birthday to my twin . . .
Love ya m~
Special dedication tonight as I recall a smoky dive from the 50’s called the ‘Waltz Club’ . . .
Long story and definitely not one for this blog.
I knew of one of the patron saints of the place, from what I’ve heard.
Sweet dreams, lady, sweet and smoky dreams
Maybe I’ll see you in them . . .
*I find it intensely gratifying (for very personal reasons)
to give you the list of the players on this archaic recording:
Johnny Hartman, vocal
John Coltrane, tenor sax
McCoy Tyner, piano
Jimmy Garrison, bass
Elvin Jones, drums
God must have been engineering.
I began thinking about the old black pot belly stove that sat in the cellar of the house I grew up in.
No idea where the thought came from but it triggered a total waterfall of memories for me.
The stove was fat in the way a corpulent Santa Claus would be.
It had an ornate shiny silver ‘belt’ of trim around the belly and a flat top where you could actually put a skillet and fry some eggs or place a kettle to boil water.
I vaguely remember my father heating some hot dogs and Boston Baked Beans on it one winter night when the power went out, though my sister would have to validate that.
Many magical things happened in that cellar over the years.
There were the band rehearsals where I learned to play songs like ‘Ohio’, ‘For What It’s Worth’ and ‘Rocky Racoon’.
I learned that Wild Irish Rose was total rotgut at $2.98 a bottle and that weed was something to be smoked and not ripped from the garden to be added to the compost pile.
Guild, Fender and Martin guitars were awesome and playing the introduction to ‘Black Magic Woman’ on a Fender Rhodes while high was a near religious experience.
(My Mom knew, but said very little)
It was in that special place that I slowly broke away from childhood innocence and began to see all the crazy possibility in the world.
It was in the ground level bay window that my father would set up one of those chintzy silver tinsel Christmas trees.
You know, the ones that were lit up by a squeaky and archaic tri-color rotating light that turned the tree from red to green to yellow to yack?
My father would plug it in and run outside and stand in the side yard and stare at it as he shook his head in total Yuletide affirmation.
After my sister’s wedding (reception), 100 or so people descended on the house; upstairs, downstairs, in the cellar, 9 Old Worcester Road was transformed into a surreal but quintessential Animal House complete with music, booze, food and crazy people walking through screen doors.
I’d never seen my Dad totally blasted until that night.
Christ in a sidecar, he was funny.
Even funnier the next morning. (don’t talk to me, just don’t talk to me . . . )
The cellar was also the location of a very special place created by Sarah and Jenna (my two oldest daughters) called, ‘Mr. Boston’s’.
My father had remodeled an old bureau into a bar on wheels, an idea he got from God knows where.
Take a bureau and turn it around so the drawers are facing away from you, cover the back and sides with paneling and put a nice wood trim around the top corners and you have a bar.
I can still see the tacky yellow linoleum he put on the bureau top.
The ‘drawer’ side faced the bartender where there were drawers filled with drink mixes, napkins, toothpicks, martini glasses, broken corkscrews and booze (except in the off season).
There was a maniacal clock with backwards numbers and hands that hung on the wall behind the bar. (the second hand went backwards)
On the face it boldly asked “Are you ready for another one?”
It’s ironic that when you were drunk it actually made some sense.
The girls would go straight to Mr. Boston’s whenever we went to visit my mother and father. Sarah would usually start out as the bartender because she was older and Jenna would be her soul customer (*ms, intentional).
We could hear them laughing and yelling as we all laughed and smiled upstairs.
Eventually, they would get a bit bored with the limited clientele and come back upstairs to recruit some fresh meat.
We would all go downstairs and ‘get served’ as the girls became both bartender and waitress.
They would take orders on their paper pads and serve us wonderful food and drink.
That was until we got our bill.
($768.00 for 2 burgers and drinks!?!?!?! Your prices are too high Mr. Boston)
I guess what I realized today was that my cellar was a place where small dreams came true for many people, including my two oldest daughters.
And I know that everyone reading this post has their own ‘Mr. Boston’s’ as well.
Write about it tonight . . . and remember.
It’s only a few pen strokes away . . .
There are things that happen in our lives that simply defy explanation;
situational outcomes, a much needed phone call out of the blue, an errant email you ‘forgot’ to open that drastically changes some facet of your life.
Lately, my father’s journey has been something of an emotional rollercoaster ride.
In the span of one visit, he’ll laugh one minute to beat the band while the next he’s crying like a baby.
While it’s easy (and enjoyable) to watch and listen to him laugh, his tears and all too complete sorrow are a completely different animal.
Wax on, wax off.
He was never an emotional man to begin with so that takes some getting used to.
My sister and I have been truly baffled by the whole thing.
The last time my sister visited our mother’s grave, she had a brief ‘conversation’ with Ginny.
We both do the same thing when we visit her.
She told her about Dad’s current penchant for a psychological taste of a Six Flags amusement park.
She also told her that her ‘Wally’ is sad and misses her dearly.
One week later while Maureen was visiting our father she noticed a woman standing in the doorway of his room as she fed him lunch.
Her heart skipped a beat.
This woman looked like our mother.
Her eyes, her hair, her glasses, her sunny disposition were all subtle suggestions of ‘Ginny’.
“Hi, Wally!” she said, as she walked in and touched our father’s hand.
Maureen was a bit gobsmacked by the situation but she said our father seemed to enjoy this woman’s company.
He was smiling and laughing.
Her name is Margaret but they call her Peg.
And Peg seems to have a thing for Wally.
We were told that Peg and Walter can sometimes be found sitting together in the rec room that looks out over the city of Worcester.
It’s a wonderful view even on a grey and rainy day.
Peg even holds our father’s hand.
It’s uncanny that after my sister’s visit with our mother this woman should almost materialize out of thin air.
I’m thinking that as poor as my father’s eyesight is, every time he sees Peg, he’s also seeing our Mom.
Rollercoaster ride, explained.
In looking at the situation I’m so tempted to believe this woman was sent by my mother, a surreal gift of a love from someplace truly wonderful.
I know, it sounds way too Disney and formulaic but the situation defies explanation.
Maybe Peg was sent to help my father finally get home.
Perhaps she’ll remind him of the most important things missing in his life, make him close his eyes and dream good things.
Maybe she’ll give him the much needed solace he so richly deserves.
But for now, he shall remain a constant rider on these misshapen, parallel bars of cold steel.
He’s still holding on for dear life, lost on a perpetual track of fragmented emotions.
Only God knows when and where the rollercoaster will ultimately arrive.
For the love of my father, I hope it arrives soon . . .
I began reading the new Natalie Goldberg book ‘Old Friend from Far Away’ a few days ago.
It’s a book custom-tailored for writers of memoir.
So far the book is quite good (like all of her books).
Page 14 has a prompt that I’ve decided to turn into a post.
The chapter is quite short:
Tell me what you will miss when you die.
When I die there will be many things that I will miss.
This list went on for quite a few pages but I’ve chosen an abbreviated version for your perusal.
If I included food you’d be here for a few days.
I mostly chose things from the category ‘matters of the heart’.
Feel free to steal this as a ‘meme’.
For you writers visiting, it’s a wonderful exercise. Do it.
Even if you don’t consider yourself a writer, it’s worth your time.
You can look at some of the things that really make your life worthwhile.
Here I go.
I will miss:
-Whispers in the dark
-Pamela’s eyes, voice, face and beautiful soul
-hearing the phrase, “I love you, Daddy,” whispered in my ear
-my three beautiful girls
-the sound of little footsteps coming down the stairs on Christmas morning
-my sister, my twin, the other part of my very soul
-Ryan’s loveable way (and awesome jumpshot)
-All the people I truly love (if I’ve talked to you in the past year, consider yourself on this list)
-a warm and gentle rain
-the silent beauty of falling snow (yeah, I wrote that)
-the sound of surf at the Cape
-the smell of freshly cut grass in late spring
-stars (especially the constellation Orion, someday possibly the Southern Cross)
-my cats purring
-Guinness (or any fairly decent dark beer like Porter or Stout)
-writing with a nice fountain pen on some fine quality paper
-the feeling of creating
-entering ‘the Zone’ (artists of all kinds know about this one)
-music (playing and listening)
-weekend phone calls to a country far, far away with two incredibly special people
-memories of the Camp
-the aroma of an apple pie baked by my grandmother from summer’s long ago
-Bill Hicks, Denis Leary, Sam Kinnison, George Carlin, Lewis Black and Dave Chapelle
-most importantly, my blog
And yes, I will dearly miss sex and exceptional breasts.
I’m not a freak.
Truthfully, what will you miss?
No one knows what it’s like,
maybe even him
the days are like carbon copies of days gone by, yesterdays passed;
more of the same, the blooming of a thousand shades of grey
And life is grey; maybe it’s the only shade he knows . . .
No one knows what it’s like
maybe even me
as I take in his awkward smiles, I wonder just who they’re really meant for
Does he miss her?
Yes, he does, and he tells me so, in sotto voce syllables
I’m still unsure of what I must believe and choose to believe in him because
what’s left is all I have to believe in
No one knows what it’s like
Perhaps, God does, but He is forgetful too;
like the saving grace of His mercy, of dignity and compassion,
the sadness of detail, the complexity of why
And He cries,
for all fathers present and past, but maybe for a world He ultimately created
in love . . .
My father knows what it’s like
when it’s time for me to leave and
long forgotten tears of understanding reach his tired eyes,
tears I can no longer wipe away
because unlike him,
I already know what it’s like to say goodbye
And I do . . .
I’ve been thinking lately about how disconnected I feel regarding my father.
He’s been in limbo for so long now that I almost forget how to love the man.
I write this knowing full well I run the risk of sounding cold and emotionally apathetic, which I am definitely not.
But how do you find a way to love someone that for all intents and purposes is no longer there?
I care for him, God, I do and will forever remain his most vocal of advocates to ensure he’s treated with the utmost respect and compassion.
I owe him that and so much more.
Three years ago, I would have had a very hard time letting him go.
Today, I’m not so sure.
I want this thing to be over with for him, maybe for my sister and me too.
I want him to ‘get there’.
I want him to feel peace, not chaos; sunlight, not rain; happiness not despair; warmth and not apathy.
It makes me sad to write these words but I mean them in the best and most tender way possible.
These thoughts are always hanging off the edge of some deep and internal precipice of mine, wanting to fall off into some godforsaken abyss and be gone.
But somehow, they remain.
Until now, perhaps.
Maybe I’m writing these words in the hopes that they remove the chains that keep me from getting as close to him as I feel I need to be, loving him deep within my heart and not just on the pages of Smoke and Mirrors.
I waited on an older gentleman the other day that reminded me of my father some ten years ago.
He wanted to buy some cigars for his son who was celebrating his 30th birthday.
I wanted to tell him how lucky he was, how fortunate his son was that his father was still in good health, how life can change in the blink of an eye.
Giving advice on life to a man that could have been my father just didn’t make any logical sense to me.
It’s almost tragic how many things there are in my life that I no longer take for granted these days.
Like someone I love remembering my birthday.
Yeah, in a perfect world . . .
This isn’t a ‘poor me’ scenario because I honestly don’t feel that way at all.
I just wanted to let someone know just how precious certain moments really are.
I didn’t do that.
And the days go by . . . .
Saw this MEME at Moe’s and decided to throw my hat in the ring.
A few things about me;
1. Were you named after anyone? My father’s father: Michael
2. When was the last time you cried? Early December
3. What is your favourite lunch meat? Capicola (spicy ham)
4. Do you have kids? 3 girls that I am crazy in love with.
5. If you were another person would you be friends with you? Absolutely. I’m a great friend.
6. Do you use sarcasm a lot? All depends on who you ask.
7. Do you still have your tonsils? Yup, a few other body parts, too
8. Would you bungee jump? Nope. My lower back is already a whacky freeway of devastated nerves.
9. What is your favourite cereal? When I eat it, oatmeal. Not the microwave crap, the real deal
10. Do you untie your shoes when you take them off? Not always
11. Do you think you are strong? Physically? Not so much, mentally? I’m a giant.
12. What is your favourite ice cream? Frozen Pudding (just like my twin sister Moe)
13. What is the first thing you notice about people? Their voice . . . then the eyes
14. Red or pink? Red
15. What is the least favourite thing about yourself? My teeth. They look fine but they really suck.
16. Who do you miss the most? My mom and dad. Mom died in 2005 and my dad hasn’t spoken a word in years. Alzheimers robs a family of everything.
17. What colour shoes are you wearing? Tan Eddie Bauer slippers
18. What was the last thing you ate? A cheeseburger
19. What are you listening to right now? Hannah talking.
20. If you were a crayon, what colour would you be? Royal purple
21. Favourite smells? A fine cigar, Obsession (women’s cologne), pine, lavender, fresh basil and puppies
22. Who was the last person you spoke to on the phone? Pamela
23. Favourite sports to watch? Football and college basketball
24. Hair colour? what colour? I’m bald.
25. Eye colour? chocolate brown
26. Do you wear contacts? Used to. Not now.
27. Favourite food? Anything hot and spicy, anything that swims, mushrooms, prosciutto and good provolone
28. Scary movies or happy endings? Scary movies with really sad endings
29. Last movie you watched? The Dark Knight
30. What colour shirt are you wearing? a grey long sleeve t-shirt
31. Summer or winter? Absolutely Summer
32. Hugs or kisses? Both in total excess
33. Favourite desserts? Chocolate Mousse
34. I’m most likely to... puff a cigar before I go to bed
35. I’m least likely to... win the lottery tomorrow
36.What book are you reading now? The hour I first believed (Wally Lamb) / Problogger
37. What is on your mouse pad? Staples
38. What did you watch on television last night? No TV
39.Favourite sounds? My Taylor guitar (that I hardly ever play), a Steinway piano, my wife and daughters laughing, my new 8GB Nano, the purr of my 3 cats
40. Rolling Stones or The Beatles? Beatles. Great songs that will live forever.
41. What is the furtherest you’ve been from home? Honduras
42. Do you have a special talent? Juggling. I suck but I can juggle. And I can play a song in two different keys at the same time. Yeah, freaky in a ‘Victor Borge’ kind of way
43. Where were you born? Worcester, Massachusetts
Feel free to ‘steal’ this one.
An obvious cheat post but what the hell.
I guess the time had to come.
Me and my sister.
Do I feel old?
Does she feel old?
It’s all relative and life goes on.
But It’s kinda weird actually, in a landmark kind of way.
When I turn 50 on Saturday I won’t feel much different than when I was 49.
A visit to Carl’s Diner would be a nice start to my 50th but we’ll see.
Happy Birthday to me and my twin, Moe
This post is a bit premature because I’m gigging on my b-day.
Hey, a wedding in mid-January is a gift for a struggling musician
Over and out, folks.
Off to find my cane . . .
(and yeah, that’s me and Moe on the cake)
I made it through the holiday, y’all.
Christmas Eve found me a bit crazy though (as my wife will attest)
What can I say, Maker’s Mark bourbon makes me silly.
But, I had fun, ‘kissing-my-brother-in-law on the cheek’ fun.
Yeah, I don’t think he liked it though.
My sister did give me the holiday hat of my dreams though.
We had all kinds of wonderful food to eat, music playing, inspired conversation, barrels of laughter, Rum Swizzles on ice, wine, beer and we were comfortably surrounded by family;
everything one needs to make the season bright.
You can probably tell from the picture at the top of the post which book I’m currently reading
(a present from my 3 wonderful girls)
I love Wally Lamb but his books do take some perseverance to get through.
Not that I’m complaining.
As a Patriots fan, after yesterday, I have lots of time to get my nose stuck in a book anyway.
I have realized that I’ve been seriously slacking in the reading department, something that changes today, not on January 1st.
To write, you have to read.
And today, it started with no conceivable end in sight.
As far as writing goes, reading helps me and pushes me in a forward direction.
I have no doubt that 2009 will be a great writing year for me.
As far as the blog goes, I won’t be very far away but I’ve made some serious creative promises to myself and will try like hell to keep them. (or Laho will kick my arse)
Damn these New Year resolutions.
Will I give up Guinness?
Will I give up blogging?
Don’t think so.
Will I cook less Risotto?
Not if my daughters have anything to do with it.
Will I stop smoking cigars?
It’s a new year and a fresh chance to chase my dreams.
Many will come true this year.
I just have to keep on believing and praying.
Catch all of you in ’09.
I wish all of you the very best that this life has to offer.
The candles are lit and the prayers waiting to be whispered.
Please let me know if you need one.
Happy New Year, folks.
And go easy on the MSG, okay?
My pen is ready.
It’s time to rock, folks . . .