Twice Upon a Time

I recently attended the off-Broadway stage version of a wonderful little film entitled ‘Once.’ Usually it works the other way around with books or plays then made into movies, so I wasn’t sure what to expect. This movie holds great sentimental value with me, so I wanted the play to be ‘right.’

As it so happens, ‘Once’ was the last movie Mark was to ever see. We hadn’t been to a movie in many months, but some aggressive treatment in June boosted his energy for several weeks and we decided to see a movie on that rainy July 4th. I possess a very date-driven mind and every July 4th is a reminder of a significant ‘last’ in our waning time. But what a moment it’s become since I learned to value and honor the past while looking forward.

Mark once played in bands as a young man, so he really enjoyed the CD recording scenes which reminded him of his own record-cutting experience. He was genuinely happy to have reconnected to one of our much-loved pre-cancer activities, a Spectrum film and the best damned movie snacks ever known to the movie-going public. The first time I went back there without him, I cried the whole way home. But I continued going and cried a little less over time because it’s still a place I love to go with people I care about. There’s just something about connecting in cinematic shadows to emotion, time and place that should be shared…even better, when there’s an arm around your shoulder.

So that Saturday, I drove over two hours with my new love to see how the play held up from the film…which it did. I love the songs all over again and seeing the show with someone who continues to enhance my life when I least expected it makes this whole middle-aged crazy thing a pretty good gig.


Me And My Big Mouth

I enjoy writing, but I’d rather see the results in print whether creating my employer’s Annual Report or entertaining people here. Public-speaking isn’t quite my bag, so even getting up in front of the Shack Attack crowd is out of my comfort zone. And damned if I don’t still cry every year!

So I don’t know what I was thinking when I volunteered to speak on behalf of the HopeClub cancer support clubhouse at American Cancer Society events.  Writing about something for which you have passion is a no-brainer. Getting up in front of people to deliver the words, not so much.

But there I was in front of 25 people who didn’t know me [except for my one-man support network] describing how Cancer tried to kick my butt, but how I won’t let it. I spoke of people who might not have a support network for their emotional well-being if it weren’t for HopeClub. I spoke of my own experiences pre-October 2007, and how my association with the clubhouse continues to evolve. I spoke of Mark’s example that continues to inspire people to live not as if one were dying, but as if living is the only thing that matters. I spoke of people I’ve met thru a negative thing who make my life positive in many ways, whether eating good stuff in the big red clubhouse kitchen or running 26.2 miles because we can do this…and because we’re just a little bit crazy, in sort of a good way, from cancer.

If success were to be measured in sniffles, then it seems as though I accomplished goal. The ‘standing O’ at the end shook me a bit, but the strong arms waiting for me at my seat put everything to right. I must have hit the mark because ACS wants me for other events, and I’m already editing my speech. You might just have to cue the orchestra to get me off the stage like on awards shows now that I’m becoming accustomed to the limelight.

Robert Frost once wrote, “In three words I can sum up everything I’ve learned about life. It goes on.” Bring it on, Cancer, ya got nuthin’.

Dating For Dummies

I know I’m feeling negative tonight for good reason that has absolutely nothing to do with my personal life (which is going gangbusters!), but I just want to punch this Patti chick in the face:

However, I am a pacifist at heart…and I don’t like the idea of hurting my hand so I can’t work out.

On the other hand, perhaps if I’d followed Patti’s advice a few years ago, it wouldn’t have taken me three years to hit paydirt in the dating world. But also on the other hand, some of my best posts have been ‘Bitter With Baggage’ and I would hate to have deprived my readership of such great entertainment.

You Might Be An Aging Hipster…

The Urban Dictionary defines Hipster as “One who possesses tastes, social attitudes and opinions deemed cool by the cool. The Hipster walks among the masses in daily life but is not a part of them, and shuns or reduces to kitsch anything held dear by the mainstream.”

While this is a difficult species to be found in the NYS Capital Region unless connected to a college campus, some of us over 40 trudge a less conventional path to the golden years.

To whit, I offer the following Field Guide to Hipster Moms/Dads:

~If your closet has enough black to sustain multiple mono-chromatic outfits without repeating any items over a week, you might be an aging hipster. Bonus points awarded to those who own Chuck Taylor sneakers and a leather jacket, especially of the vintage variety, and have sported black manicures.

~If you know the difference between Ryan Adams and Bryan Adams (and the ironic fact that they have the same birthday), you might be an aging hipster. Bonus points awarded to those who know which band Morrissey fronted and who Robert Smith is. 

~If you’ve had dinner on the Lower East Side and brunch in the East Village, you might be an aging hipster. Bonus points awarded to those who can get there by subway rather than taxi and have paid homage to Joe Strummer.

~If you’ve seen at least one concert in the past year which was not a reunion tour of the Bon Jovi or Journey ilk, you might be an aging hipster. Bonus points awarded for preferring club shows versus arena venues.

~If you got pierced or inked before your kids, you might be an aging hipster. Bonus points awarded to those who’ve done these activities with their kids.

Q: How many hipsters does it take to screw in a light bulb?

 A: It’s such a cool number, you’ve probably never heard of it.

~Tragically Hipster Mom

Cool Runnings

Another milestone year is behind us in a few hours.

Starting out the previous new year with a bang, my friend died on January 2nd. It doesn’t matter that you know someone is extremely ill; loss hurts. The first connection between Jerry and I came about so he could talk with a spouse of a cancer patient in order to help his wife. Our friendship started there, but it went much further over time and I’m grateful to have experienced his gentle courage.

Then as if turning 52 the next month wasn’t hard enough [I can’t be this old, dammit!], shortly thereafter my daughter announced that she liked a girl but isn’t gay. We always say we love our kids unconditionally and want them to be happy, but the true test comes from making good on the words. I decided that I indeed loved my daughter for who she is, and so now the girlfriend has acceded to my hipness as well. At least I know where my daughter goes, even if sometimes it’s the local gay bar, and with whom.

My car then died and resurrected a few times between June and September, causing me no end of delight in getting stranded when I least expected, like the Northway at 4 p.m. rush hour. New car in October brought much-needed stability to my life and a new home for my running magnets.

Despite the ups and downs, I managed to squeeze in the requisite training to finish 26.2 miles in just under 5 hours, setting a new PR and losing fewer toenails.

For the second year in a row, I was unable to buy a bicycle [thanks, car trouble] although I did actually pedal one for a whole hour once. Considering I hadn’t been on a bike in over 30 years, it was a big moment for me. Didn’t go on a hike either. Those things remain on the List Of Things I Would Like To Do while other people waste time watching football or visiting the mall.

“Life is meant to be lived. Take risks.Feel passion. Discover love. Run free.” Fuckin’ A.

“God is not on our side because he hates idiots also.”

I’m not a spaghetti-western aficionado or an Eastwood fan, but this line from ‘A Fistful of Dollars’ kicks ass.

The recent passing of the writer/rebel/iconoclast/splendid bastard Christopher Hitchens and these happy holidays about to descend have me thinking more about the issue of living quite happily without religion. In the great conservative Northeast where I reside, the shocking espousal of anti-piety is right up there in popularity with disdaining Sunday afternoon football and mall-shopping as entertainment. Those who follow such a path to righteousness still find me and my secular coven worth cultivating; methinks those extra recruitment points have something to do with it…because they know something we don’t…but if only we would listen then we’d be magically transformed…yada-yada-yada. Very soon, I am resigned to suffer the company of some of these people because of the irony of DNA, but thankfully Christmas only comes once a year.

Hitchens wrote during his cancer illness, which he ascribed to lifestyle choices of his own volition, “Redemption and supernatural deliverance appears even more hollow and artificial to me than it did before.” While Mark’s cancer had little to do with poor choices on his part, I doubt if he’d heeded his cousin’s advice to visit the Virgin of Medjugorje that there were would have been any other outcome. I’m okay with that because I have to be.

I never ask anyone to come over to the dark side of living sans religious affiliation. None of my personal spaces – home, office, car, etc. –are decorated with “Jesus Doesn’t Save” paraphernalia. I have been known to preach the fitness gig, but only when provoked and only from a standpoint of how it works for me. If you want my suggestions or opinions on why cross-training is important I’m definitely your go-to, but I’m not going to nag you to join me on long runs or pump some iron just because lean muscle mass is my belief system.

Keep the anti-faith. And to all a good night.

“A woman is the only thing I am afraid of that I know will not hurt me.”

Obviously Old Abe Lincoln never met me.

Early on, I told Mark that I was high maintenance but worth it. I figured it was best to get that out in the open rather than employ the time-honored feminine wile of subterfuge. This continues to serve me well. Why beat around the bush when it comes to the dance of the male-female species?

Conversely, I was once admiringly told by a gentleman acquaintance that I was very ‘un-chicklike’ indicating that I often exhibit behaviors/interests at odds with traditional gender stereotypes. This includes, but is not limited to: appreciation of The Three Stooges, gangster movies a la Scorcese and Bogart, and frat humor [think The Farrelly Brothers]…being quite handy with swearing…and having keen interest in world history, bordering on obsessive interest in World War II events.

This apparently endears me to men who find the mall and chick-flix as unappealing as do I. I’m the first to admit my closet burgeons with trendy clothes and shoes, but the idea of wasting  a Saturday ‘shopping with the girls’ when there’s a good independent movie to be checked out — and a hipster doofus guy with which to check it out – well, I think my choice is clearly defined by now.

Contrary to Honest Abe’s statement, I could easily hurt you…that is, if you want to be entertained to death.