Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Yesterday's moment of disbelief

It's funny how life works sometimes.

You meet someone, maybe for a day, maybe for a week, and you never see them again. You never think about them again, really, but you know if you do, you'll think of them fondly.

Maybe stumbling across a photo in an old album. Happens often enough.

Maybe hearing a name on the radio. That, not so much.

Eric Wishnie, a man I barely knew, died yesterday.

Depending on how you read between the lines, interpret news articles interpreting what people aren't saying, he may have died alone, jobless, despondent.

He may not have. It may have been an accident, a foolish moment too late to take back.

Either way, he's dead.

And even though I barely knew him, I hurt inside. I'm shocked, stunned. There were times, yesterday, I literally found myself with mouth agape, wondering what the hell had gone wrong.

Because I'm afraid, reading between the lines, he died alone, in despair. And I remember him a different way. I'm trying to cling to that.

My photo albums are packed for the move, but I know he's in there. I can see his face. I remember vividly when we met, though the details are a little vague to time and memory.

But all those years ago, he was happy, and proud, and friendly, and funny, and full of life. And I never saw him again, except in those albums, though we lived not far apart. And I never thought of him again, except when I glanced through those albums, until I heard his name on the radio yesterday.

Perhaps I've mentioned the baseball tours I've been on.

On one, a long time ago, I met a man. He traveled with a friend, and we wound up, as men on baseball tours might do, in a bar, drinking beer. We had the same first name, we were, in a way, in the same profession. He worked for NBC, his wife was an anchorwoman he was meeting at the end of the tour, he and his buddy were getting away on a trip they'd long dreamed of.

We had a few beers. We sat next to each other at a game. At the end of the tour, he introduced me to his wife. He was happy. He was proud of her. I remember those things, clear as day. They spring to mind, unbidden, when I read more and more about his death.

It might have been 1998, it might have been 1999. And at the end of the tour, this smiling, friendly man, and his big, bearded friend, and his lovely wife, they went one way, and I went another.

And so, years later, I sat in my car at a traffic jam, listening to the radio, listening to them talk about a man hit by a car at 3 a.m. and dead in New York City. An NBC producer. They said his name, it sounded vaguely familiar. Maybe I knew him professionally, had heard of him through a mutual acquaintance. Then they mentioned his wife's name. And I knew.

Later, reports said he fell from his roof, no car at all. A quote said he was "on leave," another that he'd lost his job. Another, that he and his wife had separated.

I wonder. Did he jump? Was he drunk, and it was an accident? Or drunk, and it was on purpose? I can't know what happened in his life, the secrets he and his wife shared, what went through his mind. It's not my place, not my business to do anything more than grieve and wish the best for her, for his family, for his friend who shared that tour with us.

But I can't help but wonder. Because the man who died with so many questions unanswered, so many things unsaid, I just can't see as that friendly, smiling man I knew on a bright summer day at a ballpark.

The one I captured in a snapshot, the snapshot I keep seeing in my mind.

A snapshot of a happy life, at ease.

A snapshot I try to focus on, no matter what I read.

It's funny how life works sometimes. I wish I could have told him, reminisced, about those happy days. How he laughed, how he loved life. How he made my life a little better that week.

Baseball tours make friends, then you go your separate ways. Big Tex, who cracked a joke with Roger from England: "In Texas, they think 100 years is a long time, in England, they think 100 miles is a long distance." Dr. Rothfeld, who treated not one, but two friends. Roger and Mark, two dear friends I've traveled with again. The Pitt Hitt Crew, the kid from the OC who ended up in Hooters on his birthday, being made to dance on the bar. The crazy lady who kept trying to get on TV.

People you make memories with, and never see again. People whose faces, lives, are frozen forever in your mind, a certain way, always smiling, never to change.

Until one day, in a traffic jam, you put on the radio. And everything unravels.

How I wish it could have been different. For him, a good man who made me laugh, and for that, I can't help but think, no matter what's happened since, deserved better than to die at 44, alone.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Meez? Pleez!

I made a Meez. It doesn't really look like me, I don't think. I'll have to do better next time. I'll work on it, if I ever have time.

Just like the other posts I've been meaning to write.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007


I got tagged by Stewie for this one... just when I was getting ready to finally write something lengthy... an excuse not to!

It's a Wikipedia survey.

Rules: You go to Wikipedia, type in your birthday (month and day) & you list 3 events, 2 births, 1 holiday, and tag 5 friends.

1. 1429 - English Forces under Sir John Fastolf defend a supply convoy carrying rations to the army besieging Orleans from attack by the Comte de Clermont and John Stuart in the Battle of Rouvray (also known as the Battle of the Herrings).
Because I just finished a book about the 1415 Battle of Agincourt, which also mentioned Sir John Fastolf (a friend of Henry V; a possible inspiration for Shakespeare's "Falstaff"?).

2. 1973 - Vietnam War: The first United States prisoners of war are released by the Viet Cong.
Because I'm from South Vietnam, and try to have as much empathy and love as I can for the Americans who fought and suffered and died there, in part so I could live my own little American dream.

3. 1999 - President Bill Clinton is acquitted by the United States Senate in his impeachment trial.
Because we impeached a president for lying about a blow job, but we can't seem to impeach one for lying about a war.

1. 1809 - Charles Darwin, English naturalist.
I'll bet you thought I was going to say Abraham Lincoln, also born Feb. 12, 1809. Too easy! ... But I figured, hey, while I'm harping on a lousy Republican president (see #3, above), I'd rub it in by pointing out the fellow who came up with that pesky evolution thing.

2. 1930 - Arlen Specter, U.S. Senator from Pennsylvania.
So the Republicans don't think I'm being unfair, here's one I actually like.

1. Red Hand Day.
Read the definition and you'll see it's one worth giving some attention, the better for the world to notice. That, and "Lincoln's Birthday" and "Darwin Day" (see #1, above) were just too obvious, "Georgia Day" too parochial and "National Freedom to Marry Day (unofficial)" just too freakin' strange.

Well, let's try Marisa (because I can), Jin (because she's not busy enough), Jewels (because she goes with Jin), Norman (just to torture some other poor bugger who's moving) and Mike (just to see if he's still reading).

Friday, July 13, 2007

Packs(es) and relaxes

For those wondering just what's up... Well, I'm on vacation.

It's not exactly vacation in the sense of "Oh, look, another Diarii!"

But it was a week off from work. It was actually supposed to be the week I took off to move Marisa in, but it ended up being the week we started packing to move out.

After all, I've now completed what I've lovingly dubbed the, pardon my French, "What the fuck was I thinking???" hat trick:

• I got promoted. Added job stress.
• I (we) got engaged. Added wedding-planning stress.
• I (we) bought a house. Added moving/selling stress.

So never fear, I've got some posts in mind to entertain and delight. But I haven't had time to write them, yet. Don't feel bad; I completely blew off my Weight Watchers tracking this week, too. And it shows.

Meanwhile, a brief summary of where I've been since I last left work on Friday the 6th:

Saturday: Packed and cleaned and stuff to get ready for the first open house at my (current) home. Toted boxes up and down two flights of stairs all day. Fun for all. We did cap the evening with a return trip to Makeda, the Ethiopian restaurant where we had our first date. It was our first time back in a while, but the food was as great as ever.

Sunday: Spent the day with M's family - partly to get out of the house for said open house - partly because it was just a nice family event, capped by a nice dinner with M, her Mom & Dad, her Grandma, her brother and his wife, and her sister and her boyfriend.

Monday: Went to the American Museum of Natural History in New York, one of my favorite places, to see the special exhibits on frogs (yay!) and mythical creatures (yay!) plus my favorites like the dinosaurs (yay!) and the Hall of Ocean Life (double-yay!). Then we went to Candle Cafe, this vegan restaurant my co-workers Ally and Rob told me about. M loved it and I found the food to be incredibly delicious, too. Then we capped off the evening by watching "Night at the Museum."Much better than I thought it would be, I must say. Call it a 3.5 out of 5.

Tuesday: Tuesday involved canceling my cleaning service and getting an estimate from the movers I've used twice before. Then it was off to meet M for some lunch and to do some registering (at Fortunoff, if you're curious; we're also registered at Williams-Sonoma and Bed Bath & Beyond if you're curious or want to send gifts in exchange for a Mookie J. Monkey endorsement of your product). We fought over the registering, as usual, but made up, of course. More overzealous scanning might be too blame. Then we met with our photographer, a very cool dude. Then we had dinner (Indian) with M's friend Dave, a fellow horror movie fan, not to be confused with my friend Dave, a fellow Flyers fan.

Wednesday: Wednesday began with Norton getting sick. That was fun. Poor doggie had it coming out both ends, so we spent most of the day home, doing stuff around the house and minding him (and dodging Realtors, who of course picked sick-dog day to flock to the house). Then at night, we went down to the Electric Factory in Philadelphia for a concert by Travis, a rocking Scottish band I've mentioned before. The concert was great - the downside was, the Electric Factory is general admission, and I was having flashbacks to a Neville Bros. concert I saw down in New Orleans right after I hurt my left calf, where I literally couldn't stand any longer and had to leave. Calf still hurts, so my honey was sweet enough to let us go upstairs to the spot where we (read: "I") could sit at the bar, rather than standing through the whole show down on the main floor. Of course, Travis came in by running through the crowd on the main floor, so I felt guilty as hell for a while, but she was really sweet about it and then got caught up in the show, which absolutely rocked. I think we're now leaning towards Travis' one song for our wedding song.

Thursday: We had our day at the museum, my fun thing for the week, and this was our day down the Shore, her fun thing. M got a terrific sunburn on the beach, then we went to the Jenkinson's Boardwalk at Point Pleasant, where we ate so much I got sick and we converted my (our) fine Skee-Ball skills into a sizable, smelly (er... sweet-smelling?) candle. Meanwhile, the dog was getting better, so that was good news. Plus, I stayed up late to watch the first three episodes of "Burn Notice," which I'm really digging.

Friday: Today, we spent part of the day at the Somerville Center Antiques, which was M's idea, and my trade for seeing the "Transformers" movie later. Of course, I bought more stuff than her, but that's not my fault. One guy had a dozen media guides amid the assorted candlesticks/plates/used crap. At $5 each or less! An absolute steal! And the dog seems to be all better, too. Wins all around. Speaking of media guides, time to get packing some more boxes...

Still to come: Saturday should be spent playing Dungeons & Dragons with my buds, and then watching the Arturo Gatti-Alfonso Gomez fight. Sunday is my Mom's birthday, so we're going to (hopefully) drop some boxes by my buddy Dave's house - my basement's just about full - and then head off to Skytop Lodge to spend the day with my folks and some friends.

So, yes, moving sucks, but we've tried to make it a week to both get things done and enjoy a little downtime together. I think we're succeeding so far.

As they say in the business, further bulletins as events warrant.

Monday, July 02, 2007

And a new e-mail!

As if I didn't have enough stress in my life...

We're moving.

So eventually, I'm going to have to change my address.

But in the meantime, I tried a little pre-emptive strike.

See, when we move ("we" being me and Marisa, not the royal "we"), I'll have to change DSL providers.

And that means bye-bye Sprint/Embarq. And that means, after 10 years, bye-bye to my EarthLink e-mail address.

So I decided to switch to Gmail.

And of course, I fouled it up the first time.

Now, I'm not crazy enough to actually post my e-mail on this blog for the whole (spam) world to see.

But those of you who know me, you know my e-mail. If by some chance, my mass e-mail about the change (the revised one, since the first one I sent had the e-mail that didn't work) got blocked or bounced or something, here's what you do:

1. Take my old e-mail.
2. Change the domain to gmail.com.
3. Add my (three) initials to the end of the username.

(My middle name, for those wondering, is Martin.)

Got it?

No? Well, then e-mail me, and if I set up my EarthLink forwarding properly (hope! hope!) then it should bounce on thru to my new e-mail and I'll write back from there.

Oh, and now that I think about it, somewhere on my profile, there's a little "E-mail" button. That works, too.

Sorry for the confusion.

~ The Management

Sunday, July 01, 2007

The one in which I question my masculinity

I sometimes joke I'm in touch with my feminine side. Mostly because I exude what I think of as a "beta male" vibe: I'm not quite an "alpha male," but close.

What a buddy in college referred to as a "flaming heterosexual" - in the sense that I'm the straight-male equivalent of a drag queen; ain't nobody going to mistake me for gay.

You know, the sports-loving, horror-movie-watching little munkee you've all come to know and love.

But the thing is, I really do think I am at least slightly in touch with that "kinder, gentler" Ace. Not so much because I sometimes think my action-figure-loving childhood might have been even better with Barbies and a dollhouse (the better to act out my little overactive imagination scenarios that mostly featured G.I. Joes and "Star Wars" figures). But just because I think I do have a softer side underneath it all - I've been known to sniffle a bit - and JUST A BIT! - during movies, or TV shows, even the occasional commercial. That sort of thing, anyway.

Still, the other day, I think my "beta male" vibe hit a nadir.

Bad enough I'm getting addicted to a show on the O! Oxygen Network for crying out loud.

But this was a double-whammy the likes of which nearly required a hooker, or at least some porn, to restore appropriate testosterone levels.

What happened? You ask?

(Or have you given up and sat back to await my next post, which might address the Chris Benoit tragedy?)

Well, if you're still reading, here's how it went down:

Marisa has a game called "Battle of the Sexes," in which the object is to answer trivia questions that should be obvious to members of the opposite gender, while mysterious to your own.

For instance, I kept asking her questions off cards related to things like tools and sports. She kept asking me questions off cards related to things like makeup and fashion.

I kicked her ass.

And then, a couple of days later, when I played a team of her, her kid sister and a good friend, I kicked their asses, too.

Which is to say, I know a lot about things like... makeup and fashion.


Yeah, I'm good at trivia games, generally. But for crying out loud. I can't cook, I don't wear makeup and I dress like a retired jock. And yet, I know a helluva lot about food, makeup and clothing... and other things stereotypically popular with women, but not (straight) men.

This was a somewhat mixed blessing. On the one hand, I got to gloat about winning. Twice. On the other hand, it made me start to question my relationship with my testes and their natural function.

Still, I might have laughed everything off and chalked it up to my superior trivia skills, except...

Then something else happened.

It was Marisa's turn to pick our movie-of-the-week (hey, she sat through "300," and in a theater, no less. So we've agreed to alternate picking films, even though the first two I picked were romantic comedies I thought she'd like. (See "My Big Fat Greek Wedding"for example.)

Anyway, despite that bit of give/effort to impress her, she opted to not choose a favorite movie (of hers) in a favorite genre (of mine).

She picked "Bridget Jones's Diary."

And I loved it.

Laughed my ass off.

Grinned with delight when the right guy gets the girl.

Called the "twist" before it even happened.

And... wanted to cry.

Not about the movie. About my sudden, near-complete, conversion from beta-male extraordinaire to...


I don't even know what this means.

Except that I'll probably have to turn in my membership card in the Manly Men of America Society.

(OK, so I have no affiliation whatsoever with that site. It just came up on a Google search for "Manly Men of America Society," a term I made up on the spot. And I wanted a link.)

Now, anybody got a copy of "Bridget Jones - The Edge of Reason"that I can borrow?

Oh, I do hope she (SPOILER!) hangs on to that D'arcy fellow.