Saturday, January 25, 2014

Writing to Write (Richard Sherman,Dollar Tree Theater and a Act of Kindness)

Its 9:29 pm

    Bitterly,bitterly cold tonight....this is a killing cold if one was caught unawares outside without the proper protection. I felt it tonight,the 40 yard walk to the Rodger Young was so cold,my hands started hurting in just the 3 minutes it took to walk to it!
  My thanks to those of you who read my last blog and offered some kind comments on it. It was not a easy one to write,I can assure you. But I hope it can help someone in the near future. Feel free to share the blog with anyone whom you think may benefit from it.

I don't have a theme tonight other then to write. Some blogs are like just sit in a warm den with a fun orange and white cat attacking your feet,drinking a cuppa tea in a Starbucks mug that was your wife's,listening to the Eric Stuart Band tearing it on iTunes.

But I will start with this story.
 There is a 53 year old man named Don here in Detroit. He is raising four children who are doing very well in school. Sadly,Don is out of work and like so many of us,is struggling badly. His utility bills are so far behind,that they were turned off.
  Don has been reduced to walking throughout his neighborhood in the bitter cold looking for a most unlikely treasure,wood. He goes into abandoned homes and looks for scrap wood that he then carries home. He takes a ax and cuts the wood up,taking care to remove any metal,nails,etc out it. The wood is then used to help keep his family as warm as it can. They heat water in pots and pans that is used for bathing and having clean dishes.
  Don keeps his struggles to himself as he trudges the empty streets looking for that wood,looking to keep the bitter cold at bay for his children's sake. Well someone must have gotten wind of Don's efforts and they contacted our local Fox station,Fox 2 Detroit.
  Andrea Isom,the journalist who does the leading stories on the 11 o'clock news,covered Don's plight a couple of days ago.

  The station's Facebook page BLEW up with hundreds and hundreds of people wanting to help. Offers of help,free wood,hot meals,clothes,jobs and cash were posted. Of course the station wasn't ready for that kind of overwhelming support and it took them a day to get a way to get those offers to the family. A stranger stepped up and paid the past DTE bill so the family could have light and heat again. The outpouring of compassion was awesome to see and I hope half of those folks come through with those offers. I would have liked to join that group but I don't have anything I can spare. Don's story hits closer to home closer then I care to admit....but just so thankful that he got such love from a very unlikely place.

   You can read the story on the station's website by clicking on the link.

I am here listening to my iTunes and once again the Eric Stuart Band has popped up into play. The song is "The Land of Might Have Been". Its an incredibly touching song and I can't but help sit here and wonder what might have been .....

One last look, before you go
One last dance, nice and slow
One last drink, before we sink

Into the land of what might have been
The land of what might have been

One last gaze into your eyes
One last chance to say goodbye
One last call, before we fall

Into the land of what might have been
The land of what might have been

I've been thinking 'bout the talks we had
All the dreams we shared and the plans we made
It seems the timing was much more than bad
We were ill-prepared for when they fade away

One last mile before we rest
One last word, we did our best
One last stop before we drop

Into the land of what might have been
The land of what might have been

One last dance in the land of what might have been
You never know what might have been

- Eric Stuart Band

Pretty haunting words to say the least. I was talking about my last blog with a young lady named Devin,who is studying to become a pharmacist. She is leaving in July to attend Belmont University and she was very helpful when Lori was sick and I asked her about different chemotherapy meds. It was a pretty good talk until I started talking about the lost time that happened to us. That is always what makes my heart crack,the one thing I would go and change,to get back that time....what might of been.
  But that isn't going to happen,is it?

I am more then amused by all the fur flying in the wake of the Seahawks beating the 49ers last weekend. Seahawk CB Richard Sherman made a great play on a poorly thrown ball to Michael Crabtree that Sherman knocked away and another Seahawk made a nice pick that sealed the game. Afterwards,Sherman,in the afterglow of winning this game wasn't holding back on how he was feeling. Instantly,the backlash started...while I expect that from Whiner fans (hello Kenny and Greg!) *L*,the rest of country acting like Sherman committed mass murder was beyond stupid.

Seattle Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman catches a tossed ball during warm-up drills before NFL football practice, Friday, Jan. 24, 2014, in Renton,...

Calling him a "thug" because he was happy he made a Super Bowl clinching play really does smack of racism. If any of these dumb fucks actually followed football,they would have known Sherman went to college at Stanford University,where he graduated with a 3.9 GPA! That isn't a "thug", that is a hell of a human being who was just showing some human emotion. Just as any of my 49ers friends who have shown if Crabtree would have caught that pass. Fans,you have to be classy in defeat as well as when you win. Admire Sherman as a hell of a don't have to root for him or his team but respect him for the whole of the package,not just for barking a little bit.
  And before you get all huffy about,note that I am not a fan of Stanford or the Seahawks but I do enjoy watching good players play cleanly.

 The weather has been so nasty as of late that Dollar Tree Theater has been getting quite the workout. To those who may be new here,I hunt for cheap DVDs to watch. Our local Dollar Tree,sometimes Target and now sadly,our Blockbuster store which is closing,often sell some pretty obscure films. So I buy them and pop up some Pop Secret and get away for a couple of hours. I have a stack of dollar movies that Paladin and I take turns in choosing what we watch.
  So this past week was spent watching the first 10 episodes of the old TV series called "Renegade" which starred Lorenzo Lamas.The plot was simple,a cop framed for a murder he didn't commit and becoming a bounty hunter. I remember the show but never watched it...

I have to admit,it was a pretty entertaining show once you get by the cheesy music. Lorenzo Lamas was actually decent as Reno Raines,the framed hero. The show was created and produced by Steven Cannell (who brought us the A-Team). It was interesting to see all the bad guys use the same guns that Hannibal Smith and his team used in the earlier A-Team. The plots were a bit generic but it had good action and chemistry between the lead actors was pretty good until the end of the fourth season,Lorenzo and Kathleen Kinmont,who were married in real life,divorced and she left the show.
  Another movie I stumbled upon was a action film called "Cross". I started watching this movie but 10 minutes,I stopped and hit "Director's Commentary" and I was glad I did. This movie was very low budget but made with a lot of heart and effort by Patrick Durham.

The movie aimed for a superhero feel with bright colors and the main hero,Callen,wearing a powerful anicent Celtic cross which gives him superhuman abilities. For a low budget film,this one packs a hell of a lot of star power! Michael Clarke Duncan,Vinnie Jones and Jake Busey join Brian Austin Green in trying to launch a potential series. While I do think it was a noble effort,unless you have a budget for effects,you are doomed to failure and having a weak script really hurts as well. I did enjoy Patrick's commentary and his unique use of one building for most of his set pieces. The script,while weak,was never mocked by the cast and they tried their best with what they got. Durham mentioned many times about making a second film but based on the 3.0 rating on IMDB and the crushingly bad reviews this movie got,I doubt we'll see another Cross. Which is too bad because I think with a decent script and effects,this could have taken off.

    Okay,that is all for now.....I know this was a fluff post for the most part but I just wanted to write something,anything.  Thanks for reading!

If you are on Twitter,look for me at @Jinzo_2400

Shout outs

Amy - I'm trying,I promise. Its just very hard.
Debbie T - Holy crow,fencing! But why not,right?
Calvin Mann - enjoyed the Campbell debate
Patrick Durham - keep trying!
Metro Detroit area - Way to step up in helping that family. It shows what we can do UNITED!
49er fans - Still behind the Steelers!
Devin- Thanks for the talk. Medicine is not for the weak hearted!
Eric Stuart - One hell of a songwriter
Smooth Jon Jones - Michigan at San Jose State,can't wait!

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Talking about grief (and paying your own way)

Its 10:19 pm

Thanks to the lovely Morgan Fairchild for my topic and to Michelle,Melissa and Suzanne for keeping me company.

  My computer is finally fixed. I took it to Polygon Computers,its where we went twice before when the computer was not working. Its has been about 18 months since I was last in. I carried the computer in and Mr. Li was there working as usual. As I was setting up the computer,he asked how I have been doing. I mentioned that last time I was in,that Lori was sick and that she had passed away. He said..."Yes,she had uterine cancer,right"? I was amazed...and said as much. He said he remembered me...he then proceeded to start looking at my machine. I made arrangements to come back and pick it later that afternoon and headed home.
   I got back at 3:00 pm and he had not only cleaned it up,he said I had deleted my own security suite and that it was pretty virused out. I honestly couldn't tell you when I did that but am I surprised? No,not really.
He also boosted my memory as well so I won't bog down anymore. That always happened when we had two or more tabs open but with more memory,its letting me keep 3 tabs open right now.
  As Mr. Li was explaining what he did,he got a phone call from a person who wanted to bring his computer down so Mr. Li could install a game for him. Instead,Mr. Li patiently explained how to do it over the phone. After he was finished,I commented how he could have had the guy come down and made some money instead of helping him for free on the phone. I think it was very kind of him to do that...even more so when Mr. Li had said business was very slow for him and he could have used the business.
 He asked if I wanted to pay him for his service and I said without a doubt. He said it would be 50.00 but I know from the other times,he charged 75.00 and I said I wanted to pay the 75.00 and whatever the memory addition would be. Its only fair,I mean,I couldn't have fixed it on my own...and Mr. Li needs money to pay for his shop which is off the beaten path here in my town.
  He said the memory was free and was thankful for the 75.00. He mentioned how Indians were always trying to undercut his prices,trying to get "deals". It pisses me off when I see that....the man is by himself,struggling to keep his small business going. No one forced these Indians to his shop,you go there,you better be ready to pay the fair price. Haggling is great at a flea market or a yard sale....but not at a small business,its very disrespectful.

Today is the 21st of January. Its been eight months since Lori Ann has been gone. Last Sunday I plugged my video camera that she had gotten me our last Christmas together. I knew I had two videos of our last days together when she was in hospice. Our friend Cheryl recorded us as Lori slept and I held her hand. I talked about we met and other things. I had actually forgotten that I had recorded a visit during our last month when her brother and his wife along with her best friend and her boyfriend. The video was so sweet but overwhelming emotionally. I made it through 6 minutes before having to turn it off. Seeing her alive,even in her advanced stage was just crushing. It brought back everything in focus and I wept for a long time.
  After I brought home the computer and plugged it in,I got a call from my grief therapist Becca, from Arbor Hospice.
  We talked about the video and the fact that everyone I talked to in the two days since I looked at the video told me that they couldn't look at videos. Pictures were good and one said the funeral service was something they could handle but way,no how. It made me feel better about that,that I wasn't alone in how I felt in watching it.
  I had to call Sony for a replacement cord so I can download my video to CDs. While I may not be able to watch now,I don't want to lose them either! They are my last link to seeing Lori alive.
  I caught a link on Morgan Fairchild's Twitter feed after I had talked to Becca.

Of all of our life's journeys,grief is perhaps the most completely personal and private path we walk.Simply put,there are truly no set rules to it. Everyone handles it their own way. Its how people react to others who are enduring severe loss that needs to be examined. How do we try and help those in that kind of pain? Its a very hard question to ask and deal with.
  I have written about volunteering at my job with two of my co-workers,Darryl and Justin. We did a painting project in Wayne and was part of a huge crew who repaired a VFW Hall in Detroit.
  Darryl sat in our break room during the first week of Christmas and shared with me about the loss of his mom. He,just like myself,didn't really celebrate Christmas in anyway that first year and assured me that he understood where I was coming from when I told him I wasn't doing Christmas this year.
  A week later...and we get some heartbreaking news,Darryl's dad was driving and had a massive heart attack. He managed to pull his truck off the secure and put the brakes on before he died. In a second,he had suffered the sudden death of his father. When I heard this...did I have any wisdom to share,peaceful comforting words to console him? Nope....I was left just like the rest of us,not really knowing what to say.
I know when he came in to work with his uncle,he had that shocked and dazed look you get during that first week. The only thing I could tell him was that I loved him and I was here. But it was important that I say something...

  The person suffering from deep loss,be it a survivor or a victim of trauma...need the following as pointed out by Catherine Woodiwiss,who not only lost her older sister in a accident but herself was critically injured in a terrible accident that left her face is such bad shape,she had to drink from straws for months and is facing a very long road back.
Catherine wrote the following in a blog post: “The victims of trauma experience days when you feel like a quivering, cowardly shell of yourself, when despair yawns as a terrible chasm, when fear paralyzes any chance for pleasure. This is just a fight that has to be won, over and over and over again.”

   This is the truth. Some days are better then others,I can agree with that. I do find myself in a slightly better frame of mind but it is fragile. I am still taking small steps and looking for a direction to go to. I don't feel like I am in a constant fog...I still feel unbalanced but at least I feel like I can see where I am going.

There are certain things people can remember when running into someone in deep loss or trauma. These are basic rules and these are my thoughts as they relate to me only. Remember,this may not apply to everyone.

Do be there.
   I have been rather blessed in the fact we have some amazing friends. I think Lori would be surprised at who stayed in the fight with me and who didn't. I have some amazing and loving support from my co-workers. We tend to try and watch out for each other. What I like is how much space I am given but at the same time if I am dragging,they will approach me and ask how I am doing. I do the same for the people who are in the same boat I am in. To put a hand on a shoulder and say "if you need to talk or vent" is comforting even if I don't need to. The fact I have that option is a good feeling. I don't feel alone.

Don’t compare, ever.
  This is a critical statement. Like I wrote before,grief and loss is the most personal journey. I have only had a couple of people compare their stories to ours. While I may nod my head,inside,I am shaking it. No one can compare because no one knows the connection you had with your loved one. You may have the same illness,accident,trauma but that is it. You can't begin to know what the other person is feeling inside. You can say "I lost someone I love too,I am so very sorry for the loss. I am here for you when you are ready". Believe me,when and if that person needs to talk,they will find you.

Do bring soup or a hot meal.

This is often forgotten after the first couple of weeks.I never really thought about this until I was alone one night standing in the kitchen with a dazed feeling. I know I needed to eat but what? A hot meal or going out for coffee is another gentle way of letting someone know you are here as a friend who is concerned for you.
Maybe you notice something small is missing from a home that you can help with...its not so much the meal or item but the gesture itself is telling that person, you are not forgotten.
Do not say “you’ll get over it.”

 There isn't much more unintended damaging words to say then this. This one and "Time will heal your pain".
Both statements are a crock of shit. I have written about someone who said  what happened to us was "an issue" That one almost caused me to lose my temper...but I considered the person and just felt sorry for her.
People who would say such a unthinking statement have no idea what is to love someone that much because if they did....this would never be uttered. And yeah,that includes losing a pet. I have heard people say that to a pet owner who has lost a beloved cat or dog. You "get over" a relationship,not getting a pay raise,a bad hair day. You do not get over from loss or a serious injury like if you dropped a ice cream cone.
Do be a builder.
 There isn't much I can say to this because I am not there yet. I am still trying to decide what I am going to build here. I know I have started building in the fact I am volunteering and trying to pay it forward. I want to try and build a legacy for Lori,so she is never forgotten. I have a few ideas and thoughts but no real plan. I will have to come back to this and revisit it in the future.

Don’t say it’s all for the best or try to make sense out of what has happened.

This is only half right. There is no "all for the best" because there is NO best when it comes to losing someone. This rates up with "This was God's will" in terms of stupidity. It may be God's design but trust me on this,a person doesn't want to HEAR that. But on the other hand,trying to make sense of what may of happened isn't a bad thing. I know in Lori's case,there were several mistakes made that could have saved her life. Trying to make sense of why she died when she didn't have too is of paramount importance to me. I don't wish what happened to us to happen to anyone else. The only way that can happen is to explore and see why it happen and to prevent it from happening again.
  This is when just being there as a friend or loved one is welcomed as a sounding board. Just talking about our experience has led me to a place where I am ready to talk to the U of M patient board about what happened during the last 3 months. I am not ready to talk to Oakwood yet as I am still too upset to explain my feelings about their crappy care of Lori.

This was on my heart as of late and when I saw this topic on Morgan's feed,I knew I had to write on it.
You can find the story I saw here . Feel free to drop a comment or question.

If you are on Twitter,you can find me @Jinzo_2400


Melissa - thanks for the chat
Rob W. - Hall of Fame as always!
Morgan - Thanks for the inspiration
Suzanne - fun as always
Denise - Praying for you as always
My 49ers friends - Still one behind the Steelers!
Eric Stuart - I am so ready to get my CDs!
Kerri - Two time winner! Hell YEAH!
Gordy - Congrats on your huge month and the new house!
Rich G. - We need to do coffee again,without the snowstorm!

Friday, January 10, 2014

First Post of 2014.

Its 4:50 pm

   Looking outside at 10.25 inches of snow we got hit with this past weekend. The word of the year so far is Artic Vortex. The temps at night are hitting at -30 to -50 degrees outside. Needless to say,its the coldest I have ever seen it.
  Also have never seen two major snowstorms hit so close together as these past two storms. First one dumped 6 inches of snow and the last one this past weekend dropped 10 inches more. Factor in the first storm of the season in December and this has been the snowiest season yet.
  I know its been a while since I have wrote anything,my main computer is in need of a check up and I just haven't had the weather to go and get it done. Most of my jaunts are to work,gas station and the grocery store. The roads are just brutal...creeping along at 20 mph saved my bacon this morning.

 Its 9:23 am

   Good morning...going to try and and write as long as the computer will let me.
Its still a snow covered setting here is SE Michigan. The deep freeze is very slowly fading but its still very cold outside. I have to go out later and shovel my patio off as well as my drain pipes before the snow starts to melt in earnest. Otherwise that will cause some serious problems.
 Its been over a month since I last wrote. And I am feeling it,let me tell you...but I will try and share what has been going on.
  As you can see by reading this,I made through Christmas. But it was a very hard time...I tried to get into it by writing some cards but I just found myself just sitting there looking at the stack. Somehow "Happy New Year" just has a mocking tone to it and I just didn't know what to write. I didn't put up anything in the house but promised myself that next year I would and I will do that.
  But it wasn't a doom and gloom day. On Christmas Eve,my good friend Sue invited me over to watch the Hawaii Bowl and so I did. She is such a interesting person and a caring soul. She gifted me a pound of Biggby's cherry flavored coffee and a mug to drink it. That coffee is one of the best things I have ever tasted,its sooo good! .
  Christmas morning saw me back at Sue's house as we were meeting some others to do a Meals on Wheels run. We met our good friend Tiana,our fellow co-worker Lamar and Tiana's mom and headed to Livonia to get our route. The car was pretty lively as Lamar kept cutting joke after joke. He works with Sue at my job and is a die hard Alabama fan. The roads were pretty sloppy as we made our way to the pick-up point. We got there in good shape and met other volunteers who were also picking up routes.
  We loaded Sue's SUV and headed to Garden City which our route was located. We dropped our meals with nary as hitch except for one. The lady had taken a bad fall and was in the hospital. But we gave the meal to a woman who was helpful to us in finding the folks on our list.
  As we headed back towards Tiana's mother's home...we suddenly pulled into a diner as Sue and Tiana had conspired to treat her mom,Lamar and myself to breakfast. The diner was pretty packed as folks were coming from church or just wanting to get away from the house on Christmas morning.
  After that we headed was a good Christmas all things considering.
I like to sit here and write how exciting life has become and that 2014 is going to rock it out but its not like that. Nothing has changed,there is no magical do over,no bright ray of sunshine. Instead I know in my heart that at this time last year,Lori started to slowly fade and I am once again caught up with seeing that. The long nights of uncertainty,the chemo that wasn't was helping but was making her sick,the days of her still getting up and going to work. Myself taking care of her and going to work,praying for a miracle...its a terrible feeling of deja vu reliving this journey again...but I am only sharing that in regards that the new year has the same heartbreak.
  The weather has been the biggest story here as of late. We back to back big snowstorms that dropped almost two feet of snow on us. Combined with a huge arctic blast,we had temps hitting as low as -23 and factor in the wind chill,as low as -44! Yikes.
 The day before the big storm that dropped 10 inches on us,I was in the ER. Woke up last Friday night with pain and cramping. After 25 minutes feeling the pain rising,I knew what was going on and so at 3:30 am,I dressed and drove myself to the ER. It was my 2nd kidney stone,I had my first one about a year and a half ago and its not a pleasant experience to say the least. They gave me some pain meds,did a CT scan and said the stone was almost ready to pass. Because they gave me morphine,I wasn't allowed to drive so my neighbor picked me up.
  Later that day I went to get a few things from the grocery store. The lines were insane as you would have thought we were getting a 10 foot snowstorm. I admit,at first I was laughing at the panic that news media instills in us with their weather reports. Now normally as 10 inch storm is a headache but you shovel yourself out,drive slow and life goes on. But what made this different was the fact it was so cold...all the schools shut down,a ton of businesses did as well. And you really couldn't go outside for but a few minutes because of the cold. So yeah,for a lot of folks,they were on lockdown and getting those supplies was actually the right thing to do.
  I was lucky,I was scheduled off the two days that the snowstorm fell. But I kept on top of snow as I went out and shoveled throughout the day. The snowfall was pretty impressive and I am happy we don't live near the lakes that get the lake effect snow which can dump feet instead of mere inches!
  Paladin is doing okay,he keeps looking outside at the snow...I don't know if he has ever been in it or if he was just curious about it. But he sat in the windowsill and watched as we shoveled our walkways and driveways. Still working on his scratching issues however. Its a process but we are working on it.
 Finished reading Scotty Smiley's book "Hope Unseen". While I thought his courage was incredible and the fact he had a outstanding wife to support him,I just never got that emotional connection to him as I expected to. It was a "by the numbers" book and I think that was his writer's fault,not Scotty's. But of course,that is only my opinion..and I would recommend buying the book at the same place I did,the Dollar Tree but I wouldn't recommend paying full price.
 Now I reading a mystery set in the 30's called "The Vaults" by Toby Ball. It started out slow but is gaining steam and I should finish it this week. I am finding out I am no longer tearing through a book in a matter of hours like I used too. Which is why I have stopped buying books my pace,I might outlive my stash of books yet to read!
  But winter is such a good time to read....iced coffee,a big warm blanket and off you go,escaping into another world. I had a writer on Twitter ask her followers what do they look for in a book. I said "plot". It has to have a fresh plot. I see so many self-published writers hawking their e-books on Twitter. I just find myself bored shitless hearing their plots "zombies,vampires,paranormal romances,erotica". Bleech! Been there,read that by much better writers and so no,I have zero interest in reading about a haunted vampire in love with a ghost hunter who is turning into a zombie.
 Speaking of coffee...I think I will finish this and make some before I start my shoveling. Don't want to lose my day entirely.

Thanks for reading and I will be back soon.


Thank you everyone!