Sometimes you find yourself missing. I don’t mean you get lost. We all get lost, even in this age of Google Maps, Apple Maps, and Waze. Make a wrong turn, don’t hear the directions correctly, mistake a “right” for a “correct.”
I’m not lost right now. In fact, for the first time in a long time, I feel found. I have an idea where I’m heading. My relationship with my daughter has improved dramatically. I’m engaged to a wonderful woman, set to be married in a few months. I’ve started my fifth season as the PA voice of the Roadrunners. I’ve returned to representing kids again, after ten years handling other matters, representing adults.
No, this week, I’ve been missing. Missing Micah. Missing pieces of my life that have set sail without me.
My emotions have been hair-triggered. Seeing a picture of Micah from a Diamondbacks game, years and years ago, stole my voice. For an hour, I could not speak. I could not think of anything else but Micah. I would close my eyes and see him in net. I could see him skating off from the bench to start a period. I could see him saying, “Check, Mic 19, Mic 19, check.” I could see him singing.
Earlier today, I spent time thinking about loss. There was a charity event in honor of a wonderful young girl who lost her battle recently with cancer, Leighton Accardo. Leighton was a bright, cheery little hockey player when I met her, and her mother, through my time working with the Arizona Hockey Union. She was a Mite after Micah was a Midget. Not long after Micah passed away, Leighton and her family got the horrible news. Five years after Micah lost his battle with mental illness, Leighton lost her battle with cancer. Maybe, somewhere in a happier place, Leighton and Micah are playing hockey together now. I can never know exactly what someone else feels, but I know that Leighton’s mother, Carly, and father, Jeremy, are now members of a larger family that no one wants to belong to–the same family that welcomed me, my ex, and my daughter, on January 15, 2016.
I thought about other losses. From the time Micah decided to try roller hockey, nine years ago, through just a few weeks ago, I was an active, vocal member of the state’s inline youth hockey league. Throughout those years, I served in many roles, from hockey dad, to Board member, to Vice President, to treasurer, to Administrator…to nothing. After leading and helping to organize and run two nearly impossible tournaments in the middle of the COVID Summer of 2020, I found myself on the outside looking in…and then, just the outside.
It wasn’t a smooth transition. It wasn’t a retirement. It was a cold termination. It was weeks of not knowing what was going to be needed, what was going to be expected of me. When I finally found out–it came as a shock. I went from being an integral part of the program to an independent contractor being given a single task to complete. No defined future. No guarantees of having any continuing role. The message was clear–I was no longer part of this program. My help was no longer needed. My time was no longer necessary.
This past weekend was the inline organization’s second tournament of the season. The past several years, I would have been generating wall posters, organizing the schedule, keeping track of stats and standings, getting medals ready, even, occasionally, scorekeeping and announcing games. This year, I just wondered how things went. I am now on the outside. I am not involved. I am not informed. Frankly, the way things ended, I am not (or at least do not feel) welcome.
The past few weeks have also been the beginning of the NCAA softball season, and for the first time in the past five years, I am not doing anything related to softball. My email to the powers that be has gone unanswered. Again, I am missing.
It’s time to be found. It is time for me to move on, and find new ways to spend my time, new causes worth my efforts. It is time turn my attention to tomorrow–but with a firm grip on yesterday, and the lessons that yesterday has provided. It’s time to show Micah a new me. It’s time to make those changes that Micah himself encouraged.
We held the inauguration for Joseph R. Biden, Jr., the 46th President of the United States of America. We turn the page on the last four years. We try to move past the divisions that some stoked among us. We hope for a return to civility, a return actually caring about all our fellow men and women, regardless of politicial affiliation, color, creed, language, sexual orientation, gender, choice of religious belief—or non-belief. This can be our future, starting now. Let’s make this fresh start count.
Meanwhile, it marks another change in the course of my life. Not a major change—I still have difficulty dealing with the last couple of those—but a significant one nonetheless.
I spent over ten years supporting Micah, his teammates, and all youth hockey players in Arizona. I continued this quest even after Micah was no longer here. But ran into an immovable object: the powerful few who dominated youth hockey, and wanted no interlopers taking power away from them. I had fought to the last of my patience, and wound up having to walk away from the sport that I loved and shared with Micah—and everyone else—for years.
I focused some of that freed-up time on the state’s roller hockey league. I wound up as a member of the executive board, and eventually became the administrator. All told, I wound up spending eight years working dilligently for the roller hockey families of Arizona. And then…
COVID hit. We suddenly had new challenges to face in providing roller hockey competition for Arizona’s youth players. We stepped up though. Through coordinated efforts of a few, myself included, we put on two summer tournaments in the safest form possible—temperature checks, COVID questionnaires, controlled attendance at events. Lots of effort went into these tournaments.
I really felt like things were going well. A proposal was made for myself and the tournament director to take on more responsibility in running the state’s roller hockey tournaments. Fast forward to October, and what would be the beginning of the end of my time in state roller hockey.
Without getting into the gritty details, it was apparently decided that my role was no longer necessary—and after weeks of near silence instead of communication, it became clear that I was going to be asked to handle registration only—and then stand by to see if, apparently on a task-by-task basis, I would be needed to help with other parts of the roller hockey season.
Whereas I was once on every important email regarding the league, now, I was kept largely in the dark. Where I was asked for my opinion, asked if I could accomplish certain tasks, I was now largely ignored, but for getting registration up and running. It was decided that much of what I used to do could be done by “volunteers” instead of paying me a stipend for my services.
Today, it really dawned on me: my time with the state roller hockey league was over. The executive board had, in fact, moved on. I presume they figured out how to do the various tasks I used to do, as there were very few attempts to ask me to help transition or train my “replacements.”
I’m not quite sure how to feel about the end of my roller hockey time. On the one hand, I felt like my nine years of time working for all Arizona’s youth roller hockey families entitled me to a better send-off. On the other, maybe it was just time for me to move beyond the past, and look into my future.
Perhaps I will now have more time for things like music and theater. I really want to spend more time taking pictures. I want to brush up my programming skills and write an app that I can use for my hockey public address announcing gig. I have a drone that I would really like to learn how to safely and properly use (read: not have to chase down the block to retrieve). I have a daughter that, for far too long, did not get the time with me that she truly needed. I have a fiancee that I would like to spend more quality time with. And, of course, I have a day job, and the Tucson Roadrunners to look after.
It’s never easy to be at the end of something you’ve put blood, sweat, and tears into. However, I know I’ll come out okay on the other side.
In the meantime, if you’ve known me as “that IHAAZ guy,” perhaps you should get to know a different side of me. Or, as I experienced when I was done with youth ice hockey, you may simply become another ghost of hockey past. I hope not.
The hardest decision I ever had to make—so many things I’ve had to choose over 50 years on the planet—is not a contest. Five years ago, I had to watch as that decision set the end of my son’s life into motion. I had to watch as the doctors and nurses removed Micah from mechanical life support. I had to watch as Micah’s vital signs faded…until he drew his last breath.
This past weekend was the anniversary of Micah’s death. It was another weekend that found me burying my emotions behind any kind of “busywork” I could find. Up at 4:30am to get over to the rink to open up Day 1 of the Cactus Cup tournament at 5:45am. Between setup, scoresheet entry, and assisting coaches and managers get ready for their games, I even found a little over an hour to work on a couple of cases for work—on my day off. Saturday, Sunday, Monday — rinse and repeat.
Suddenly, my time at the rink and my busywork was done.
Suddenly, I felt myself slowly fading from distraction to distress. My mind went from the rink, 2021, to the hospital, 2016…and the funeral home 2016. My vision went from live action on the rink to the internal home videos of my mind.
“I like stopping pucks…and stopping pucks,” Micah once said in an interview at the rink. The kindest, gentlest kid… Sure, he had his quirks, he had his rough patches. Micah was human, like all of us, and had his “room for improvement.” Micah was special. Micah was mine, but he had a desire to be all of ours — whether on the ice, or in the concert hall, or on the stage.
Micah will now be all of ours, in our hearts and memories.
Five years ago this evening, I told Micah that I loved him as I headed out the door to the staging meeting for the Cactus Cup youth hockey tournament. He looked happy, as he and his choirmate and friend (girlfriend?) Natalie practiced for their upcoming regional choir auditions. I had no idea that it would be the last time I’d hear my son’s voice.
A little after 7, I got a text from my now-ex-wife, telling me that she had called upstairs to Micah to remind him to get ready for hockey practice, but had not heard a response. She tried texting him, but he did not respond to her text either. Since Micah seemed to respond to my texts with a little more frequency, I told her that I would text Micah. “Hey there Micah. Mom needs you to get ready for hockey. Everything okay?”
Silence. No response.
I tried calling Micah.
Silence. No response.
I told my ex that I was a little worried that Micah was not responding, and asked her to see if Micah would answer his door. She tried.
Silence. No response.
I told my ex that she needed to get into that room–no matter what it took. She got the door open.
Silence. Until the screaming started.
What she found in Micah’s room…how she found Micah…my daughter’s reaction, having come up behind her mother while she was getting the door open. Those are visceral pictures I will never forget. Sounds I can never un-hear. I still have nightmares, sitting on the phone, helplessly listening as my daughter described what was going on, continuously repeating that she did not want to be an only child.
My ex was able to perform CPR until the paramedics arrived. They continued with CPR until able to move him into the ambulance to take him to Gilbert Mercy Hospital. A friend drove me back from central Phoenix to the hospital in southeast Gilbert, where I arrived to witness what seemed like a dozen hospital staff members attempting to get Micah’s heart and breathing going again. They were able to pull off that minor miracle, and arranged to get a helicopter to take Micah to Phoenix Children’s Hospital and their pediatric neurology ICU. I got a police escort as I sped my way from Gilbert back to central Phoenix, where I met back up with Micah. It was 10:45pm, Thursday, January 15, 2016.
I did not sleep. I could not rest. I spent almost the entire next 24 hours standing by Micah’s side, holding his hand whenever I could, talking to him, encouraging him to be strong and squeeze my hand, or open his eyes, or give me any sign that he was improving.
He was not.
Finally, in the early afternoon of Friday, January 15, 2016, my ex and I consulted with the pediatric neurologist, who told us that Micah was showing almost no brain activity. Stimuli that would normally provoke some brain response from an unconscious child–provoked nothing. We had to make a choice. We chose to not force Micah to suffer any longer.
At 9:10pm, the doctor and nurses removed the machines that were artificially keeping Micah breathing, keeping his pulse stable. At 10:10pm, Micah was gone.
My son, my first-born child, this GoalieDad’s GoalieKid, the sweet-sounding tenor, was no longer with us. My heart was torn, a large piece removed that could never be replaced. Where there was laughter, singing, the sound of pucks being deflected away or caught–silence.
I struggled — for days, for weeks, for months, for years–forever. In the years that would follow, I battled depression, self-loathing and blame, internal questioning–was it me? Did I become one of those parents that forced Micah into playing a competitive sport? Was that pushing what set his mental health over the edge, and cost the world a chance to get to know my son?
I still wonder today.
This evening is the five year “anniversary” of the fateful night of Micah’s suicide. My coping mechanisms have remained the same: I try to bury myself in busy-ness to hide the pain, to avoid the grief, to not think about the unthinkable. The harder I try, the less it works.
There are so many times in the past year that I simply wanted to sit down and write about Micah. Write about my experience. Write about my pain. Write about what this has done to me over time. But like the classic procrastinator, I always had an excuse. I was too tired. I was too busy. No one would read what I had to write anyhow. No one else cares any longer, outside Micah’s immediate family.
I forgot the biggest part of writing–promoting my own healing. It doesn’t matter if others want to read this, if they do or don’t read my words, if they care or not. It only matters that writing this helps me. If it can help someone else, that’s fantastic and amazing…but that’s not my immediate goal.
It sounds selfish. I hear myself saying the words in this blog entry, and think, “God David, you’re being so selfish. Shouldn’t you be trying to help other people? Shouldn’t you be attempting to help other families avoid the pain and suffering you’ve experienced–experience on an ongoing basis?” Maybe. But I need to get this off my own chest, so that I might breathe easier for the next couple days.
So much has changed since that fateful evening–those fateful evenings–five years ago. I was married; I am now divorced. I was in the solitary confinement of representing parents in appeals of the termination of their parental rights; I am now back where I started, representing kids in delinquency and dependency matters. I felt alone, for many reasons, and as though I had no one to turn to in my sorrow; I now have someone that will patiently listen, wipe away my tears, and tell me that my thoughts, fears, and emotions really do matter.
My daughter has grown from a not-quite-12-year old child into a nearly 17-year old young woman. While she has had her own battles, some with me, she has matured in ways I had only hoped would take place. Whereas five years ago, I felt like I had to be strong, and provide the backbone to keep my family going, today my daughter asks me if I’m okay, and if I need to talk.
I have watched, from a distance, as some of Micah’s old friends and teammates have grown from teenagers into young men and women. Micah, if he was still here today, would be turning 21 in just three weeks. He might be a junior in college. He might be working full-time somewhere, doing something he loves. Maybe he would be performing on stage somewhere in The Prom, or Hamilton, or maybe he’d be in London preparing for the world premiere of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Cinderella. Maybe Micah would be the starting goalie for ASU’s club or D1 team, or playing in the Juniors somewhere. Or maybe he would just be doing anything that makes him happy–and, in return, making everyone that knows and loves him happy.
Right now, I can only hope that he’s happy–wherever he is. I hope that he’s hanging out with his grandparents and great-grandparents. I hope that he’s looking down on me, on his sister, on his mother, and smiling, pushing us towards the happiness we try to find without him. Maybe he’s met his future step-grandparents, and learned a thing or two from them as well.
Five years ago, over 500 people were estimated to have attended Micah’s funeral. In a sour mood, I told many that I would be surprised if most of those people were still around in six months, or a year, or two years. I hate being right.
I still talk to a few people from Micah’s hockey world, but not many. Some of you are undoubtedly reading this. I heard from some hockey friends how some of those same hockey world people would sit around at the rink and criticize my posts as I processed my grief after Micah died. No one forces anyone else to read these posts. If what I write makes you uncomfortable, hopefully you know well enough to stop reading. If this triggers you, stop reading and take a long walk, or a deep breath.
Since January, 2015, one by one, my connections to Micah’s former world have been cut. I was the co-chair of the state travel ice hockey league–a post that ended about a year later. I was deeply involved in the state inline hockey league–now, those days are a memory. I was still on the choir booster board for another several months–until it became too painful to walk into the choir room for meetings. The divisive, toxic political climate ended many “friendships” with people who I had worked with in the hockey world.
So, here I sit, five years to the day that Micah’s mental health overwhelmed him and forced him to take the steps that would end his life. Some things are better, some things are not. I will press on, move forward, and try to memorialize Micah in any way that I can. I will go to the rink in Tucson and announce Roadrunners games, always feeling like Micah is in the crowd. I will continue to hone my skills as a baker, making treats that Micah would have loved, constantly telling me that I should have quit being an attorney and just opened up a bakery. I will, every so often, pull out the old photos and videos of Micah, to remember the young man that I so love, and so so miss every single day.
And I will write. I will try to write to remember my son, and to attempt to continue the grieving process that goes on, and will for the rest of my days.
My friend, Dolly, came to me yesterday with a sign that Micah knows how much I miss him, and how much I need him.
After Micah passed away, my ex arranged a memorial activity for Micah, where we invited people over to paint rocks in Micah’s memory. We provided smooth river rocks, paint, brushes, etcetera, and asked people to paint rocks that they could leave in special places to remember Micah by–to pass on messages about his life.
Dolly and her daughter, Emma, attended this memorial activity. Her daughter painted rocks. On one of the rocks, she painted the words, “You Will Be Found.” This is a reference to the Broadway musical, Dear Evan Hansen, a story about a young man that crossed paths with another troubled young man that took his own life. In one of the musical numbers, Evan Hansen and his “friends” release a video, where Evan talks about how, when you need someone and feel incredibly alone, someone will find you.
Have you ever felt like nobody was there? Have you ever felt forgotten in the middle of nowhere? Have you ever felt like you could disappear? Like you could fall, and no one would hear?
Well, let that lonely feeling wash away Maybe there’s a reason to believe you’ll be okay ‘Cause when you don’t feel strong enough to stand You can reach, reach out your hand
And oh, someone will come running And I know, they’ll take you home
Even when the dark comes crashing through When you need a friend to carry you And when you’re broken on the ground You will be found
Dolly and Emma and their family recently moved from the far southeast outskirts of the Phoenix area into Mesa, much closer to our office. In going through their storage unit, in central Mesa, last week, out of the blue, Emma found this rock. She had not placed it anywhere near the storage unit in Mesa–yet there it was. Found.
Thank you, Emma, for delivering a message from Micah. ❤️
Hello everyone out there in Internetland. Yes, your Technobabble and sports fanatic friend is still around. Life has been so busy over the past several months that, alas, my blog has been severely neglected. It’s been months…where do I begin?
Yes, it’s been that long. I won’t bore the general reading public with the details, but back in August of 2019, it became clear that my marriage was no longer working or salvageable. Part of it was the loss of my son, part of it was the after-effects and side-effects of that loss, and part of it was that my wife and I were no longer on the same page, no longer shared the same interests, and were both admittedly happier when we were apart than when we were together.
Divorce is never truly easy (well, unless you’re talking about a midnight wedding at the Elvis chapel in Vegas–annulled the next morning). My daughter is still struggling with the change. She still sees things in black and white, and due to the final circumstances of the marriage, that makes mom the wounded bird, and me the evil, rifle-toting hunter. Compound this situation with her other various needs, and we have not had a fun last several months.
The technical aspects were easy enough–we filed an uncontested divorce, agreed to enough of the basics that lawyers (other than this one who was handling the filing) were not needed. Filed in October, 2019, final in February, 2020.
I wasn’t really single. This part is hard to explain sometimes, but in my quest (yes, even pre-divorce, I know…) for someone that I could talk to, share my emotional states with, someone that made me feel like my thoughts and feelings mattered–I met someone on Twitter. We were online friends for over a year. We hadn’t even met until early August, 2019. When we met–we just knew. Once again, TL;DR–we’re engaged. Wedding tentatively set for sometime in Summer 2021.
While All That Was Going On…
I’ll hold off on the whole “2020: The Year of Wrecking and Reckoning” for a later post.
I continued doing my multiple-work-lives thing: appellate attorney by day, PA announcer for the Tucson Roadrunners (and occasionally ASU club hockey and ASU Softball) by night. In addition, I continued scheduling and helping run the Arizona Cactus Cup MLK Jr Weekend youth ice hockey tournament, as well as acting as the administrator for the state’s primary youth roller hockey league. The balancing act was a little tougher during the Winter 2019-20 season, with divorce and parenting time issues mixed in, but it was going okay–until March, 2020… (Again, more on that later.)
I was also mixing in numerous trips to Lacey, Washington (just outside Olympia, the state capital) to see my beloved, and generally keeping as much of my life settled and calm as possible. On the good news side, until the world turned upside down, round trip airfare from Phoenix to Seattle was generally less than $125–sometimes as low as $80-90 round trip on discount airlines like Spirit. (I learned to really appreciate Spirit–and to learn how best to pack for a quick two-day trip using just a larger “personal item” to avoid ridiculous add-on fees for a carry-on or checked bag.)
Honestly, those trips to Lacey, as much as they tore at certain parts of my heart and existence, helped me feel whole. I was completely accepted by not only my love, but by her three kids–and even her ex. Another long story for another time, but her ex and I have come to regard each other as husbands-in-law. 😀 I spent Thanksgiving and Hanukkah/Christmas with this new side of my family, and just felt welcome.
Fast-forward a bit to today, and my beloved is now living with me in Chandler, Arizona. She came down for a visit and got caught in between stay-in-place orders in both Arizona and Washington. She wound up in a forced resignation situation with her job in Washington, and we decided it was just best at this point for her to move in. No complaints from either side as we’ve spent lots of quality lockdown time together — and have managed to not kill each other.
Changes on the Job Front
I’ve walked a long, twisting path over the 26 years since I graduated from Roosevelt University with my Bachelor’s degree (Bachelor of Arts in Education). Eight years as a teacher. Three years in law school. A little time in criminal defense practice before getting reassigned to the juvenile unit. I spent four years representing kids in our juvenile delinquency unit, before becoming one of our first parent attorneys in the dependency unit. After a little over 18 months in dependency, I transferred to our mental health unit, representing adults who had been brought into the system for involuntary evaluation and/or court ordered mental health treatment. After a couple years in mental health, my presence was requested to become the office’s primary Appeals attorney. And so I was, until…
Over the past few years, I found myself having an increasingly difficult time representing parents making their last ditch attempts at saving their parental rights after spending years trying (or not trying) to navigate the child welfare system. See, here I was, a father of two–one tragically lost over four years ago–who would do anything for his kids. I lost Micah in January of 2016. I would do ANYTHING to have him back. I would walk on hot coals while eating shards of broken glass if it would bring my son back. Yet, here I was, representing parents who–in many cases (not all, but many)–squandered away their chance to get their children back from DCS (Department of Child Safety–similar to CPS or DCFS in many states), and often only now, at the point of the permanent termination of their parental rights, do they choose to fight for their kids. I had a really hard time figuring out the disconnect.
Frankly speaking, I also missed actually working with my clients…going to court…arguing before a judge… And, honestly, working with/for children. I was a junior high teacher for almost eight years. I started at the Public Defender’s Office with the drive and desire to represent children. As my time went by, I seemed to drift further and further from working with kids…until I reached appeals, where I rarely worked directly with anyone, outside a few select colleagues in my office.
After I missed out at a chance for possible promotion to a supervisory position, I jumped at the chance to move back to our Mental Health Division. Then, less than 24 hours later, I was presented with an even better offer: move from appeals back to our Juvenile Delinquency Division. I could finally get back to representing kids! And now, one week from Monday, I will officially rejoin the Delinquency Division!
I have already felt a warm outpouring of greetings from my colleagues in my new division–many of whom I have worked with previously–either in delinquency, or in my appeals position. I am so incredibly excited about this change!
So–that brings you up to speed with where I am in a few areas. I’ll post another update soon, to cover other thoughts. On one of my forever important thoughts…I have really missed Micah. I’ve looked at what’s happened over the past few months and thought about how he could have made a difference–while at the same time thinking how worried I would be about him, as well as my daughter, in this mad world.
I have over a dozen false-start entries to my blog from the past few weeks. I have one I started to talk about our European vacation. I have several I started to express my concerns and fears (rational and not) about friendships. I have a couple dealing with my job possibilities–and not-so-possibilities. I have had so many moments where I felt the urge to write something, only to get a few paragraphs in and be drawn away by distractions or fatigue. Here I go again…
On the work front…
While I was away in Europe, I received a work email informing me that the office was planning to interview candidates for a new Mental Health Division supervisor position. I had known for a while that this was coming, but did not expect it to crop up so quickly. I talked to my director about the possibility of this position only a few weeks earlier, and that conversation had a very positive spin, giving me great incentive to get hyped up for the possibility.
Needless to say, despite the eight hour time difference between my Mesa, Arizona, office and my Brentford, UK, hotel, and my most accessible device being my iPhone, I spent the next 20 minutes–in the hotel room, in the elevator, and finally on the Tube’s District Line, crafting my official letter of interest for the supervisor position. I thought it turned out pretty good, very complete, despite the circumstances. After hitting SEND, I began the process of waiting…
Shortly after returning from Europe, I grabbed an interview slot, and gave deep, considered thought to what I could offer as a Mental Health Attorney Supervisor. I had two-and-a-half years experience in the division prior to my move to appeals. I work well with others (at least on a professional level). I communicate and organize (again, professionally) well. I have good ideas. I’m a hard worker. I’m dedicated. Heck, I was willing to drive across town for this position–from my home in the Southeast Valley to the West Valley, a 40-plus mile commute each way. In Phoenix traffic, that would have translated to a 70-80 minute one-way drive.
Interview arrived. Interview went well–so I thought, so I was told by a couple members of the panel. More waiting…
Finally, middle of last week, I got the answer. Not it. I was close. I forced a very difficult decision. I interviewed so well. I have so much promise…and for now, thanks for your time.
I’m not completely destroyed by this decision, mind you. There are distinct advantages to not getting the job. My commute remains a simple 20-or-so minute drive. My schedule remains very flexible for vacations and such. I maintain the option for the occasional telecommuting day. I don’t need to worry about weeknights when I need to be in Tucson around 5 (see flexible schedule). Despite all this though, I would be lying if I said falling short of the supervisor position didn’t still bum me out.
On My Fitness…
Still losing weight…albeit more slowly now. My weight has been hovering around 205-206 lbs each morning. My last WW weigh-in was 208.8 last Wednesday. No meeting this week, due to the holiday, but hoping to weigh-in next week for the start of a new 12-week session, at or under 205. I’m SO close to “one-derland” (being under 200 lbs). Not too bad, considering on October 17, 2018, I weighed just under 293 lbs.
For exercise, I’m now walking a minimum of three miles each morning, and riding at least seven miles (and up as high as ten) roughly every other night. Unfortunately, Phoenix-area weather is such that all riding needs to be between 8:30pm and 6am. No one (that I would consider truly sane) wants to be riding a bicycle in 110+ degree heat. At least I don’t… I also mixed in some yoga last night, and hope to start skating in a week or two, and playing hockey myself by this fall.
Next up for the fitness routine: joining a gym in three weeks, after my wife’s summer work trips have concluded…
It’s been a very quiet place since our return from Europe. Very quiet. For the most part, I’ve moved away from spending lots of time on social media. I’m sure I have friendships there, but right now it’s just a confusing place.
Seriously. I’ve lost any ability to decide if I need to reach out to people, or if people should reach out to me. Frankly, few people reach out to me, unless they need something. And, honestly, I’ve started parting ways (read: blocking) people that only seem to crave my friendship when it carries fringe benefits (no, not THAT kind of benefit).
I know it sounds cliche, but I have given thought to taking an extended Twitter break. I’ve already sliced down my Facebook time signficantly. Right now, social media isn’t doing much for me. Sure, it’s nice to commiserate with like-thinking souls a bit, but I need more actual face-to-face time with friends nowadays. I need more actual friends that I can ask to hang out–or that will ask me to hang out. I need to know I have an extra concert ticket and have too many options, not wonder what the harm would be of eating the extra ticket.
Never far from my mind and heart – my son. I continue to have random flashes of images of Micah. When I’m walking in the morning, I’ll turn and see Micah. When I’m riding my bike, I’ll imagine Micah riding with me. When I’m sitting home considering the next thing I want to do, I’ll wonder what Micah would have thought, or done, in my situation.
When we were in Europe, I kept wondering how much Micah would have enjoyed something we were doing. Seeing Micah clown around near the Eiffel Tower. Picturing Micah running around the Louvre.
Even just this morning, taking my morning walk, the thought wouldn’t leave my mind: it’s been three-and-a-half years now since Micah passed. It will be four years before I know it. The hole is not healing…
I don’t know. After Thursday’s Independence Day holiday, I have four straight full weeks of isolati–work. First weekend in August, I travel to Las Vegas for Star Trek Las Vegas, biggest Star Trek convention in the country. A few weeks later, it’s off to New York City for my first visit to Citi Field for a couple Cubs-Mets games. A week after that, back to Las Vegas for one of Elton John’s final concerts. The following weekend, Chicago for another Odd Couple Reunion, and a couple Cubs games along the way. And capping off the “summer” travel season, my return to London for the Bears-Raiders game at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium because–just because.
Maybe I’ll be so busy that I won’t spend much time thinking about more somber subjects…
I really don’t like to wait. I suppose, in that way, I’m not dramatically different from most other people out there. We like to know, good news or bad news, sooner rather than later.
Yesterday, I interviewed for a new supervisor position in my office. After over thirteen years in this office, I decided it was time, in earnest, to make an attempt to leap into a higher position. Arguably, my current position, as an appellate attorney, is a “higher” position, except that it doesn’t carry a higher paycheck or a title that would allow me to get an even greater position in the future. So, when a new supervisor position opened in a division of the office that I really enjoyed practicing in, I threw my hat in–with gusto.
The position was posted while we were in London on vacation. Did that matter? Nope. Within 30 minutes, I had drafted and sent a full letter of interest, authored on my cell phone, to my boss back here in Arizona. By the end of our week in Europe (I believe it was Friday afternoon while we were in Amsterdam), I had received notice that interviews would be conducted on Thursday, June 13th. The first wait had begun.
While I waited for the interview, I wondered: who else might apply? What were my odds of success? Would I be viewed as too valuable in my current role to be considered for this new role? What questions might they ask at the interview? What happens if I don’t get the job? What if I do?
Finally, June 13th arrived. My interview started 30 minutes early. It ended after 35 minutes. How did it go? I’m always a horrible judge of how I do in these situations. I’ve been told that I interview very well. I kind of felt like I did a good job. After the interview was over, a friend who was on the interview panel came up and told me that I did an amazing job, and that he was really impressed with my interview. Wow. That was really nice to hear.
Of course, he then said that all four candidates that had been interviewed were pretty strong, and it would be a really tough choice. Thursday ends.
Friday begins. No word on the position. Of course, to get word in less than 24 hours would be incredibly fast, even if the intention is to have the new supervisor in place ASAP. But still, waiting…
Meanwhile, I did get a little closure to another question I was waiting on an answer for. I heard back from the person now in charge of game presentation for the Roadrunners. The big plans are not completed yet, BUT they definitely want me on the team for the 2019-20 season! So, unless they’ve decided to move me into a different position, like in-game host (which I kind of doubt), it sounds like I will return to the stadium mic for my fourth season of Roadrunners hockey. That was a nice temporary reprieve from the other purgatory-like waiting.
Otherwise, the jetlag has run its course. I no longer feel like a zombie throughout most of the day. We purchased two bicycles last weekend, and I’ve been adding five or six miles of cycling to my daily exercise routine.
It had been roughly 22 years since I last rode a bicycle. I can vividly remember coasting up and down the lakefront, next to the beaches along Lake Shore Drive, no cares in the world (for those few hours a couple times each week). Things are a bit tougher now than they were around 1997… My knees are 22 years older. I’m rebounding from being hideously out of shape for the past thirty-someodd years of my life. As exhilarating as biking has been this week, oh my knees!
Another shocking part of the cycling experience: even though each five or six mile ride has resulted in serious sweating, increased heart rate, some shortness of breath from the workout, aching, jello-like knees for a while after the ride, the Weight Watchers app says that my six mile, 40 minute rides were only worth three to four points. A three-mile, 48-minute walk around my neighborhood is usually worth eight to ten points. Huh? Some things make no sense…
One thing that has continued since my return from Europe–a sweet tooth. I had prided myself on being able to cut out most sugary snacks and sweets during my first seven months on Weight Watchers, and now I found myself nibbling on small bits of chocolate, nougat, jelly babies, jelly beans, and so on. The end result: I returned home from Paris, stepped on the scale and was at 207.8 pounds (naked weight, I weighed in at 210.2 later that day for Weight Watchers). This morning, nine days later, I was at 211.4 pounds (naked).
I know, I know. That’s still really good, considering in mid-October of last year, I was at 293 pounds. But I really still want to see myself under 200. “One-derland,” as the WW-faithful call it. I know I can kick the candy and sweets–I’ve done it before. I just need, well, to do it. I have until June 26th to get back under 210 clothed, so I can collect my WW at Work fees reimbursement (3.5 percent lighter than I was when I started this 12-week block). I’m sure I can do it…but first, there’s that matter of enjoying my Father’s Day Brunch at Via Brasil in Summerlin, Nevada (about 30 minutes from the Vegas Strip).
So, now I wait. I wait for my drive to the Phoenix Theatre tonight to see Spamilton. I wait for our drive tomorrow to Vegas for a crazy one-night Father’s Day Weekend trip to just get away, and enjoy Father’s Day Brunch from my favorite restaurant. I wait for (hopefully a positive, for me) decision on the possible promotion to supervisor. I wait for APDA, our annual public defender conference, next week. I wait, I wait, I wait.
I hope initial waiting ends soon, with a pot of gold at the end of the waiting rainbow…
Okay, truth be told, I haven’t really stayed far from the keyboard–just had my keyboard time controlled by other random real-life busy-ness. However, with a few minutes to spare before the next piece of business takes over the steering wheel of my life, I thought this would be a good time to get caught up with my thoughts…
It has been seven months now since I began my Weight Watchers-fueled journey towards a healthier me. On October 17, 2018, I weighed in at 293.8 pounds. As of today, May 22, 2019, I weigh 213.2 pounds. So, in just a hair over seven months, I have lost 80.6 pounds. I have gone from just about needing 42 inch waist pants to fitting very comfortably in 34s. I have gone from only comfortable in 3XL shirts to XL shirts. I have gone from fried, fatty foods, chocolate, rich cakes, pastries, and donuts being staples of my diet, to being rare exceptions. WW (Weight Watchers) is right–it’s not just about changing (or going on a) diet, it’s really a lifestyle change.
There’s truly a lot less of me to throw around these days…
I’m not quite done yet. I still want to get into “One-derland” and perhaps down around 185 pounds. Historical note: I haven’t been under 200 pounds since, umm, junior high? Heck, I haven’t been 213 pounds since high school or MAYBE early in my undergrad years. So, physically, I’m doing well.
Emotionally, the rollercoaster has continued to take me for a ride. It’s amazing how many friends can come, go, morph from one thing into another, over just a couple months time. People you can talk to almost daily for a time, that you suddenly only find yourself talking to once in a blue moon when you reach out to them (or in a couple cases, when they reach out to you–for help). I think I just need to come to grips with the fact that my friendships are always going to be complicated. Maybe it’s that I’m innately a busy person, and so I find myself attracted to other busy people. Busy person + busy person = either lots of hit-and-miss communication, or not much communication at all. I’m not really sure…
I have found myself putting more distance between real life and virtual life recently, spending far less time socializing on social media. As that is a primary channel of communication between myself and some friends, my diminished presence leads to less communication–and more distance. Twitter is a fun playground, but also highly addictive, and sometimes very destructive. Less time on Twitter just feels, well, safer. Unfortunately, there are still some people I consider closer friends that only communicate with me on Twitter…so that generates a little additional stress…
I’ve reached a point now where the number of former ice hockey friends has dwindled down to a very small handful. Micah has been gone for almost three-and-a-half years. I have been away from youth ice hockey (in any significant way) for two years. So, out of sight, out of mind, I guess. From some recent developments, my contacts in professional hockey, well…
I discovered a couple weeks ago that the Coyotes have decided to strengthen their presence in the day-to-day operations of the Tucson Roadrunners. As part of this decision, the Coyotes have taken over all marketing and game day presentation management and decision for the Roadrunners. This means Mark, my “boss” with the Roadrunners, has now parted ways with the Roadrunners. The status of the game day crew I worked with is now unknown. Similarly, my status as the Roadrunners PA guy is officially unknown…
Now, no–I have not been fired. No, I have not been told that my services are no longer required. However, the answer to whether I am definitely being asked back for the 2019-20 season is pending. I have been told that I should have more information in “a couple weeks.” Stay tuned…
Meanwhile, I will be scorekeeping and announcing the new OAHL Women’s Summer Hockey League beginning two weeks from tonight. This is not a big, huge deal. They will play one weekly game, at 7:45pm each Wednesday night, at a local ice rink. The league was targeted at women’s college and professional hockey players, so I’m hoping to get to see and announce a few NWHL, CWHL (now defunct), NCAA, and ACHA Women’s Hockey players. I’m pretty excited about this opportunity. Lindsey Ellis, head coach of ASU’s Women’s Hockey team, has put this program together. I’m anxious to see the fruits of her labor!
As I prepare for my first-ever trip overseas, I find myself pondering a lot of internal questions. Yes–you read that right, in my 48-1/2 years of life, I have never left the shores of North America. I have only left the continental United States three times: a 1978 trip to Detroit with my brother and father where we enjoyed a lovely McDonald’s lunch in Windsor, Ontario, a 1990-ish day trip into Tijuana, Mexico, during a family trip to Southern California, and a roughly two-hour, 1993 excursion back into Windsor, Ontario, while in Detroit to conduct a training session for Ticketmaster.
So, Saturday, we head to Los Angeles (MUCH cheaper to fly internationally out of LAX than Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport) to fly to London. Five days in London, a quick 24 hours in Amsterdam, two and a half days in Paris, and then back to LAX, and home. Anyone in London want to come say hello? :). Just a few days away from the trip, and we’re still filling in the blanks for sightseeing. We have a show in London’s West End, the Warner Brothers London Studio (Harry Potter) Tour, and a day trip to Stratford-upon-Avon and Stonehenge planned…and filling in the rest as we go.
Lots of time coming up in the next couple weeks to give deeper thought to my quirks, complications, and conundrums. One thing I know–my time in Europe will be a nice break from worrying about my various friendship statuses…
Sometimes your mood, your outlook, and your musical tastes all combine for a just a moment. It’s not necessarily the lyrics of this Broadway showtune as much as the tone. I’m not presently laughing.
A lot has happened in my life since the last blog entry. I’ve been insanely busy, due to my inability to say no to anything that sounds like an opportunity–even when those opportunities might actually be more hollow than they appear. On top of the emotional pressure points of the last seven weeks, I have been handling my day job, as well as a seemingly unending number of hockey and softball games, as well as movie parties. I cannot think of more than a couple hours here or there where I have not been either working at something, or in transit to/from working at something.
I have made some new friends online, and discovered that some friends are not what you build them up to be. I have become acutely aware of reciprocation, or a lack thereof. This has been a very sobering experience for me. It’s always hard when you think someone is there for you, mainly based on them saying they are, but unless you reach out to them, the lines of communication stay silent. Going uncharacteristically silent doesn’t seem to raise any red flags. Posting odd comments or statements on social media doesn’t seem to trigger any response.
Real life seems to echo digital life for me, or is that the other way around? Back in December, I spent a few days at my office on the West Side of Phoenix. This office is a nearly 40-mile drive from home, through the heaviest traffic the Phoenix area has to offer. It’s not usual for the trek to take me over an hour each way…sometimes significantly over an hour. I did this initially to help another attorney with a challenging case that I had notable experience dealing with. For a couple days, I felt welcomed. People would stop in and say hello. More than one attorney would come by and ask if I wanted to join them to lunch. It felt like home. Having felt this warmth for a few days, I decided that maybe I should commit to spending one day per week at our West Side office, to be available to staff cases with West Side attorneys in person, and to feel that warm “at home” feeling once a week to break the monotony.
Since January, I’ve been making this trek, once a week. A day or two ahead of time, I send out an office-wide email telling everyone that I’ll be here. With one day’s exception, I have sat in a big office, door wide open, occasionally walking the floor to see who’s around, and heard only the sound of my own footsteps. I have sat in a big office, door wide open, and heard others gathering together to go to lunch–and then stride right past my door to make that trip. I have sat in a big office, door wide open, and wondered what the hell I made this decision for. Now, to be fair, a few people have dropped by to say hello, or make random comments, but they are few and far in between, and not always people that I have a lot to talk to about. Many of those conversations go the same way:
Visitor: Oh, hey David! I didn’t know you were here today.
Me: Yup. Here to provide any help or assistance that I can.
I worked in this location for two years at the beginning of my time with the office. Most of the attorneys here, I am familiar with. I would even say, at some time in the past apparently, I was friends with them. It’s not as though they don’t know me, or I don’t know them. Several of these attorneys are people I used to grab lunch with all the time. Now, it’s as though I’m not really here. I have become Mr. Cellophane.
This morning, a couple people came in for a moment, and each made some reference to Micah. So, now, I’m not just sitting in this big office alone, with no one seemingly interested in engaging with me on any real level, but my mood and emotional wherewithal have tanked. I’ve gone from upbeat, talking to a good friend, to meh, to downright dark. From a good conversation with a fellow attorney right as I walked in, to sitting in this big office sucking on a sugar free root beer barrel as lunch, because I feel no motivation to go for a drive to hunt for something to eat by myself.
I have shut the door. Maybe it will help to not hear people walking by talking to each other. Maybe I’m just giving up on the idea that anyone cares that I’m here. I turn to social media to see if anyone’s sending me messages. With one exception, not really. I check my phone to see if anyone’s texting me. With one real exception, and two hit-and-run exceptions, no. I am pretty much alone.
My mind is capable of going such dark places at times like this. I keep fighting the notion that I should listen. I look for signs of hope. I see a couple, in the distance. I look at a picture on my phone of a smiling friend. I think about my family. I think about Micah. I miss Micah. I wonder if Micah had these moments, but was not able to see signs of hope, for whatever reason, before he gave in to the darkness, before his mental illness led him to his final breaths.
Micah had a support system, but was unable to reach out to them–to us. Will I too reach the point where I will become unable to reach out? I hope not. But at the same time, I hope that I won’t have to–I keep this hope that someone will recognize my dark moment and reach out to me, instead. I have hopes that a couple of the people I call friends will throw me that lifeline. I know a couple would today. I hope they still will tomorrow.
I try to reach out and make friends, make connections, online. Some start off well, and fade quickly, others fade more slowly over time. It’s so easy to say, “Hey, I’m here for you, anytime you need me.” So many people utter those words, or similar ones. So few actually mean what they say. This is probably why it’s so hard to convince people that I mean those words when I say them. Even many of those that appear to listen seem to quickly grow fatigued of listening. I’m fortunate to have found a few that are genuine. Perhaps I should be thankful for those few, and cast aside the others as those drifters I referred to earlier. This would seem to be the healthiest way to deal with my online issues.
Now, to try and make some of these connections more real. More than words on a screen–actual people that I can create memories with. That’s my aim for the coming summer and fall… Funny. Online becoming real…