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Life, Loss, Hockey and Baseball — not necessarily in that order.

Random thoughts from the most random of minds…

Scattered

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…

Friendship

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.

Micah

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…

From Here

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…

David

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Fear, Loathing, and Anticipation

Waiting.

Waiting.

Waiting.

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?

Waiting.

Waiting.

Waiting.

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…

David

Back at the Keyboard

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.

Me, dressed as Del Griffith (John Candy) from Planes, Trains, and Automobiles – 11/18/18
Me, dressed (?) as Mola Ram from Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom – 5/20/19

There’s truly a lot less of me to throw around these days…

Me, in front of my bathroom mirror – 5/19/19

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…

More from the shadow of Big Ben!

David

Funny.

Funny.

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.

Fail.

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.
  • Visitor: That’s really cool. Well, nice seeing you.

Conversation over.

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…

David

Fate’s Sense of Humor

I have less than five work days to write a brief for the Arizona Supreme Court. No big deal, right? I’m an appellate attorney, this is what I do. The case is one I’m extremely familiar with, as this will be the fifth substantial brief I’ve written for it in the past two-and-a-half years.

Simple, right? Not even close. Thursday is Micah’s birthday.

Thursday, February 7th, is my son’s nineteenth birthday. Or it would have been, if he was still here. He would be two-thirds of the way through his freshman year in college. Maybe he’s be playing ACHA hockey somewhere. Maybe he would be singing in his college choir. Maybe he would be rehearsing for his school’s spring musical.

No. He does not get to do any of those things. He gets to have us come visit him at the Mesa City Cemetery. He gets to be on the minds of those who cared enough about him to still remember him. He gets to have us carry his memory into Alita: Battle Angel, a movie that we think he probably would have liked. He gets to hear our cries, feel our tears dripping on his headstone.

Micah gets to watch from beyond as his father struggles to write a brief for another father trying to get his young son back. Get him back. Something that no writing, no matter how creative, how well supported by law and facts, can happen for this father and his son.

Do I sometimes have to struggle to write things for my job? Sure. Couldn’t fate have dropped this assignment on me during a week where I’m not wrapped up in the memories, the sorrow, the loss of my son? Apparently not. Apparently fate has a cruel sense of timing.

Today has already been obliterated by my distracted mind, looking for anything solid to hold on to. I will try to make at least a dent in the statement of facts before leaving this evening, but that will still leave most of the drafting to three work days before I have to turn it over to my secretary for preparation and filing, early next week.

I’d like to think I can lock things down mentally and emotionally and get to some serious writing tomorrow, but I am honestly not sure…I don’t tend to get calmer and more composed as dates like this arrive.

I’ve been asked by a couple people if we’re doing anything special to celebrate Micah’s birthday. We are. After a few quiet, private, family things on Thursday, we are hosting a Project; Rock Their World “party” on Saturday afternoon. We will be painting rocks with positive, loving messages to promote suicide prevention and to de-stigmatize mental illness. We hope that people will take the rocks they paint and place them where others will find them, post pictures, and spread our messages of hope.

It’s really all we can do…

David

Never Easy

Last week was a long week. It was long and ongoing. There were brief reprieves from the black tar pits of the week…a check that came early, a couple hours playing games with a couple friends…but the overarching mood of the week survived those brief peaks.

Whether it was a blast of emails around 5:30pm on Wednesday night from a private, contract attorney that was so busy looking for someone else to blame (in this case, me), that he could not even see how illogical his emails were.

There was my daughter having extreme difficulty with a change in her medication routine, and continuing to go through struggles with school.

There were more revelations about people that I considered friends that, maybe, really aren’t so much.

There was silence. And in the silence, words and thoughts and phrases of self-doubt. Self-loathing, even.

Then there was sleep. Not much, to be sure. Over the past six weeks, I have probably averaged four hours per night. I rarely seem to be able to get much more these days. Some combination of insomnia, my brain refusing to quiet itself, or some third thing that I cannot even begin to place my finger on.

Have you ever done something just to make someone else happy, but also kind of because you would love to see others do the same for you? I find myself doing those things quite a bit. And, unfortunately, I rarely find myself rarely on the reciprocating end. Being who I am, I don’t stop, of course. I just keep right on doing the things that I think will make others happy, hoping that someone will stop for a minute and think, “Hey, I bet David would be tickled pink if I did this for him too!” Does it happen? Sometimes. Rarely. I know I have a good friend, a special relationship when someone actually does. When someone calls or texts just to say, “Hey, I’m just thinking of you. You doing okay?” I’ve had a couple yesterday and today. People that feel authentic–like they really mean it, as opposed to those that just mouth the words, but you can just tell that they’re doing it because they think that’s what society wants them to do. Texts and messages from people that I have never even met in person, but that have become important parts of my life. Little notes from people that don’t have to pass them along, just to keep me going, regardless of how dark the day gets.

Sometimes the gloom gets overwhelming. What happens when you become dependent on the small candles of hope that your friends hold in your darkness, and then suddenly the candles vanish?

I often worry that the high cost of being able to share my story will be driving those candle-holding friends away. One friend has recently used the term “broken” to describe herself. I think we’re all a little — or more — broken. What happens when one broken person unloads his heart with another broken person? Can I cause further damage to a broken person by taking up his or her offer to share my sorrow?

There are moments when I so badly want, badly need to share something, but the candles are out. The room is empty but for my shadowy figure. I think the gloom enjoys these moments, because the darkness intensifies, the echoes of my own heartbeat become louder. Sorrow becomes despair. The isolation becomes impenetrable. How hard it is to keep fighting the battle: will someone notice my isolation and say something, or do I need to break the isolation myself in order to talk to someone? Each time I need to break the silence myself, the battle becomes that much more difficult.

Fortunately, those moments are not normally the rule, but only the exception. My luck has been holding out that right when I need someone there most, someone appears. Hopefully my luck continues to hold out.

David


Reset, Please.

It has been way too long since I had a chance to sit down and write. I have a relatively long partial blog entry that I need to go back and finish. That entry started out as a reflection on the weekend leading up to the three-year anniversary of Micah’s death, and wound up including the anniversary itself…and then more.

Right now, I need a reset. I am not exactly sure what that looks like, or how I go about finding or performing one. I just know that the gloom has started to cloud my skies, the black tar pit of despair seems to be calling my name, and everything just seems out of sync.

For two weeks, I’ve had extreme difficulty focusing on my tasks at work. While it is not unusual for me to have quiet moments in my office, moments where I stop what I’m doing and think about the irony of a father that lost his child–and would have done anything, including giving his own life, to save or bring him back–trying to find loopholes for parents that, more often than not, threw their kids away. Parents that frequently were given 18 months, two years, three years, of chances to do services, get their parental ship uprighted, and still failed to do so. Now, however, they want to fight. Now, they want to make sure their kids know that bio mom and bio dad fought for them. Not during the two or three years when they actually had a chance to get the kids back, but after the judge has already found that severing parental rights is in the children’s best interests. This isn’t to say that all my clients just refused to do what they needed to, but an awful large percentage of them refused–repeatedly.

So, when I’m absorbed in memories of losing Micah, memories of sitting by his bedside, watching him draw his last breaths, how can I possibly focus on the parents that deny repeatedly that they have a meth problem, and claim the system is working against them, falsifying the drug test results just to hurt them?

Some people, when depression hits, dive in to the closest bottle, hit the closest bong, snort the closest white line. I’m often asked why I don’t drink (newsflash: I don’t drink). Aside from that fact that I was never raised in an environment where I saw the benefits of drinking alcohol, I’m not ever really sure what to say. In college, I used to make up excuses to get the constant questions to cease. It was just something I did. Today, I just point at Micah’s death. “I can only imagine what might have happened to me after Micah died if I was comfortable drinking or using drugs.” Honestly, would alcohol and drugs have been on the table for me on January 16, 2016, I might not be here today. If I was still here, I would undoubtedly not be the same person you see today

Instead of crawling into a bottle, I crawled onto Twitter. Now, going in, I wasn’t exactly a newbie to the Twittersphere. I’ve had a couple accounts for a while now. One, @GoalieDad37, that I’ve used for years, on-and-off, and the second @RRPAGuy37, that I created back in 2017 at the behest of my wife. She insisted that if I was going to post political thoughts that might be divisive, especially among the hockey community, I should have a separate account that I can specifically use for Roadrunners hockey tweets–and keep my more divisive thoughts on my “personal” account. I’ve had friends at differing levels on Twitter, but mainly casual acquaintances that would respond/react to a post here or there. Still, there were a few special friends that I felt closer to on Twitter…almost like actual in real life (IRL) friends. Not that I had met any of them, nor would ever be likely to meet them, but people I genuinely cared about.

But a few weeks ago, I felt a need to find connections. People that I could actually develop real relationships with. Real friendships that might, might transcend the bounds of the Matrix we know as the internet. So, probably against my own better judgment, I threw myself into a quest for real online people.`

The good news is, I found a few–a few people that I genuinely connected with, that were genuinely interested in connecting with me. I have made a few friends that I hope to develop long-term relationships with, perhaps meet, sooner or later. I met a few people that my heart just leapt out of my chest and flew to–people who needed someone to listen, someone to talk to, someone to care. Some of those people were willing to let me in and talk to me, some decided at an early stage that I was really not someone they were looking to get to know.

Then came the bad news: some people are just flaky, or so busily seeking Mr. or Mrs. Right, that they don’t really have time to waste on friendship. You chat a bit. You make witty banter. You express a sincere interest. It seems mutual–and then, POOF! Gone. I presume they just mute me, since I still see that I follow them and they follow me, but comments and questions go unanswered. They’re online commenting on other things, but don’t respond to me. I know how that sounds–I understand that I’m not the center of the universe, and many of the people I’m talking to have hundreds or thousands of other followers as well, but still. There was a conversation. Back and forth. Ball is in the other person’s court, but 36 hours and several visits to Twitter later, the other person is still sitting on the ball, not returning serve.

In these last few weeks, I’ve found myself spending more and more time browsing my Twitter timeline, texting and messaging with my Twitter friends (trying to focus more time and energy on the ones that respond and converse), and trying to lead a social life that, just maybe, I was never meant to lead. I don’t speak with the same tone and tenor as many of the male Twitter users I see. I don’t seem to portray the same toxic masculinity as so many out there. I’m kind. I’m polite. I’m caring. I bare my heart and soul with my tweets. (It’s amazing how much you can say in a couple 280-character posts.) And, as I guess I should have suspected might happen, sometimes that heart gets trampled and the soul gets crushed.

Do I want to give Twitter up? No. I have made a few friends that I believe will be a part of my life, in a very real way, for years to come. I have helped people through times of trouble, bouts of depression, moments of anxiety. I have been able to help a couple people with things they desperately need in real life. Whatever I have that I can afford to share to help others, I will gladly share. Sometimes it’s greatly appreciated, and — as in real life off the internet — sometimes not so much. (If you’re taking the time to read my blog, this last bit probably doesn’t apply to you.)

I do tend to find, however, that sometimes I have the lousiest timing. Usually, I seem to be around when other people need support most. I gladly give that support, even to those that I suspect would not likely return the favor–either lacking the time, ability, or capacity to do so. Sometimes though, when I could use some support myself, it becomes harder to find. Not nearly as hard to find as in real life, but harder than my mood wants to deal with at those particular moments.

I was talking to one of my friends yesterday, and mentioned that I did not want her to have to be afraid of triggering memories of Micah. I don’t want any of my friends to have to feel like they need to walk on eggshells to communicate with me. Micah is my son. Micah died. The memories of that event are extremely painful, but they are there. Most of the time, the tears and the breakdowns from having those memories forced to the forefront are actually somewhat therapeutic for me. I really do need the release. I keep it so bottled up inside, trying to put forward a professional image, or trying to look like I’m coping normally, that sometimes, being able to just toss that veneer aside helps.

No sooner did I find myself saying that yesterday then I saw a post this morning that blew the veneer away. I was a raw nerve. I knew the person who made the post didn’t intend to trigger me, wasn’t likely worried about walking on eggshells, and is someone that I have tried to talk with about her own loss…but it didn’t matter at that moment. The office door had to be closed. My transcript had to be put down. The sorrow demon had to be set free. But it was a quiet day…a day where I had said I was going to stay off Twitter…a day where my closest friends were either, themselves, dealing with depression issues that I did not want to add to, or dealing with circumstances that made a sorrowful discussion with me impractical. So, I sat and wallowed.

The aftereffects are long-lasting. I went to my Weight Watchers meeting (down another pound since last Wednesday, 55.2 lbs gone since early October), came back, closed my door, and continued to brood. I was trapped between wanting to reach out and call someone, and wanting to just let everyone get a break from me for a while. Trapped between needing to talk, and wanting to just continue to wallow.

You ever get to that place where you just can’t decide what you want and need to do? This is why I need a reset…

David

Special thanks to those that have been helping me cope over the last couple weeks… You know who you are. You know how much I appreciate you.

Another Year Bids Farewell

We’re only a few hours (Arizona time) from another year drawing to a close, and another new year beginning. So much has happened in 2018–some good, some bad, and most somewhere in between.

Some facets of life just go on, from year to year. Thankfully, I’ve continued to be gainfully employed in the same office (now for a hair over 13 years) as an attorney. I’ve maintained my health without serious issues. My family has remained intact and suffered neither further loss nor significant illness either. People that I consider my true friends have remained in my corner, available to me when I’ve needed them (and been able to reach out to them).

There have been some nice highlights to the year, as well. I finally got my dream car, after a two-plus year wait. We got to make our first family trip to the Big Apple and saw our first Broadway shows. We had the opportunity to visit San Francisco for the first time (and I got to watch the Cubs play at AT&T Park). I had a few opportunities to watch my Cubs play in the Friendly Confines of Wrigley Field again, as well as AT&T Park in San Francisco, Petco Park in San Diego, and Chase Field here in Phoenix. I had the opportunity to once again meet up with good friends for a week in Las Vegas. I was welcomed back with open arms as the public address announcer for the Roadrunners in Tucson, as well as the ASU Women’s Hockey team. I was able to make another trip to Chicago just a few weeks ago to root on my Roadrunners against my former favorite team, the Chicago Wolves (and got to see a good friend and enjoy my favorite skirt steak sandwich at Booby’s).

As 2018 has wound down, I have also started making some changes. After seven years of watching my waistline and belly grow (or–at best–maintain a certain very heavy range), I finally decided to do something about it. I joined Weight Watchers (I guess now just referred to as “WW”) at Work. So far, as of my 10-week weigh-in, I’ve lost almost 40 pounds. I’ve gone from needing “loose” or “stretch” 40-inch waist pants to being able to get 38’s on (still a little tight, but they fit), from needing XXXL shirts to fitting comfortably in just XXL…and almost XL. It’s honestly much more than a diet. WW has changed my eating habits. WW has encouraged me to become more active. I take pride in my ability to avoid so many of the things that I used to gorge myself on. I have gone from two cans or more of sugary soda per day to…umm…two glasses of Coke in the last eleven weeks (one at Thanksgiving, one on Christmas Eve), from french fries (or other fried potatoes) at almost every major meal to probably the equivalent of two large orders of fries total over eleven weeks.

I’ve made a couple less life-altering changes also… Out went the Windows 10 PC (after a final crash and meltdown), in came the new Mac Mini and accessories. Out went the Pixel 3 XL Google-made, Android-based cell phone, and in came the iPhone Xs. It was partially pushed by the realization that many of the customization options that I constantly touted for Android–I never actually took advantage of. I guess I’ve just reached a point in my life where things that simply work, how and when they’re supposed to, are more valuable. The iPhone is a bit smaller than my other recent phones, but it does what I need, when I need it to, and much smoother than the Pixel 3 XL did. The still camera isn’t AS nice, but it’s fine–and it’s video-taking abilities are superior (as far as I’ve seen to this point).

I have also started placing experiences ahead of tangible things. At one time, you never would have been able to convince me that I should spend $2-3-4,000 on a trip instead of a new technological toy. Perhaps this change has been long-brewing, all starting with that August, 2015, trip to Chicago for a couple quiet days of Cubs-Giants baseball at Wrigley Field. It grew to 3-4-5 trips a year to watch the Cubs play and see friends over the past couple years, and now, heading into 2019, it’s making it’s largest leap yet: London/UK, Amsterdam, and Paris for nine days, late May through early June.

With the good, however, comes the bad. Tonight, we marked the third New Year’s Eve without our son. All our plans for the future are for a family of three, not four. Talk about college centers around Avi, not her older brother, who would be midway through his freshman year in college. Instead of having a full bowling lane tonight, we only had a party of three.

People have told me that “it becomes your new normal after a couple years.” Problem is, there is no such thing as normal after you lose your child — unless normal includes constant reminders of what you’ve lost. Constant reminders of a future without your first-born son. This is not normal. This can never be normal. This is something I will never become accustomed to.

Every time I take what I believe to be a step forward, I feel compelled to look in the rear view mirror to see what I’ve left behind. Every time I meet someone new, in any environment, the questions turn to children–how many do I have? “One…well, I had two, but now I have one…I have one child left…” There is no simple answer.

“I’m so sorry,” they always say. “I’m sorry for your loss.” I’m sorry, too. I wish I could think of words that help–help me, help someone else to understand the true context of what they feel sorry about, help me to stop having nightmares about seeing my son in his hospital bed, taking his last breath, in his casket. Help. Help.

If nearly three years has taught me anything, there really is no adequate help. Even people with the best intentions are at a loss as to what help means. I can’t tell them. I don’t know either. I’m pretty sure no one wants to hear me groan on about how much I miss my son. Heaven knows, I’ve been told directly that there are people that read my blog, only to turn around and complain, publicly, about how I express my grief. People who shamelessly cast aspersions at a father’s grief and how he chooses to express it. No one is forced to read my words. No one is forced to feel compassion. If today’s world has one screaming message, it’s certainly that a percentage of the population feels no grief, pity, or compassion for anyone outside their church, their home, their immediate family–or themselves.

So many of the people that knew Micah have faded from our lives now. Some are gone completely, while others are in the background, peeking out occasionally to say, “Hello.” This creates a problem for me, personally. When I do have the urge to talk about Micah, how do I do so with people that have no frame of reference? Seriously–so many people that I consider closer acquaintances or friends today only really know of Micah through this blog, or through explanations as to why all my jerseys have the number 37 on them, or just because, at some point, I told them that I lost my son to suicide a couple years ago. Some, who I see as my genuine friends, will listen and provide a shoulder, when needed…but my paranoia, that I will alienate more people by talking about him, is still not too far off. Do people that have not lost a child understand that the grief never really goes away? That a grieving parent never truly gets over their loss, and is never tired talking about their child?

I’ve been listening to the new Disturbed album, EVOLUTION, recently. It’s amazing how much meaning can be derived from the hardest of hard rock band lyrics. I’ve been following Disturbed ever since I saw an interview with lead singer David Draiman on the National Holocaust Memorial Museum website. talking about the song, “Never Again.” Their music speaks to me, in a way few other bands today do. The song, “Hold On to Memories,” is the latest song to stick in my head.

They’re never really gone, as long as there’s a memory in your mind.

Hold on to the memories.
Hold on to every moment — to keep them alive.


Make the most of the rest of your life,
Shine your light on this world, while you can.

https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/hold-on-to-memories/1425820707?i=1425820714

2019 is here. I can’t be sure exactly what ups and downs it might hold, but I do know one thing for certain–it will be another year without my son. And the best I can do is try to make the rest of my life, shining my light on this world, while holding on to every memory of Micah to keep him alive.

David

Fighting the Spiral

I used to think that if I kept insanely busy, I wouldn’t have time to think about missing Micah, or my other various social shortcomings.  As time has gone on, I’ve discovered that now staying busy has started to have the opposite effect.  Busy = rushing around = anxiety = stress = thinking about my issues even more.

Now I’m kind of left wondering what the solution might be.  Maybe it’s just the holiday season, bringing up more memories, more mental images, and that’s leading to my current spiral.  I went to visit Micah last weekend, after not having been to his grave in months–which I really needed to do, but it didn’t really do much to help my emotional state.

Life at work has become a source of stress again as well.  Last week, I “celebrated” my 48th birthday.  Normally, people in the office have a birthday, and there’s much celebration.  Maybe it’s just my current state of mind/emotion, but it was somewhat deflating to see my office decorated with two small “Happy Birthday” banners and a plant with two mini Happy Birthday balloons stuck in the planter, while a coworker’s office was turned upside down with color and sparkle and warm greetings.

Earlier this week, we had an office birthday lunch, celebrating both my birthday and my coworker’s.  No one asked if I wanted to carpool over to the restaurant with them, or if they could hop in my car (and yes, almost everyone returned to the office immediately afterwards).  When people got up to leave after lunch, it felt like I was watching the end of the lunch on a monitor somewhere.  I felt completely disconnected from the people departing.  It felt as if everyone was getting up and leaving without noticing that I was still sitting there.  Shortly after returning to the office, I found a cake sitting out in the break area–but no one sent out an email saying that it was for our birthdays.  I figure that there likely was an email sent out, but that I was not included on it.  Probably sent out by the coworker’s division to only the coworker’s division…

It might just be all about the lens through which I’m viewing events recently.  I’ve been having flashbacks to Micah’s death as I drive into work in the morning.  I spent part of my weekend helping with roller hockey issues.  Normally this brings forth the ghosts of Micah and roller hockey past, but this weekend hit an even more emotional chord on Saturday morning.

After running a scorekeeper training, the husband and wife who have taken over the Royals state inline program approached me.  The Royals were the program that started with Micah and his former AHU Knights ice hockey team back in 2012.  I quickly became involved as a team manager, as well as the Royals rep to the IHAAZ (state roller hockey) Board of Directors.  I’ve been involved ever since, even after Micah’s death.  As the years have gone by since Micah’s passing, I’ve grown, understandably I hope, distant from the families that comprise the organization, to the point where I was just a figurehead at IHAAZ Board meetings for the past year and a half.  The Paris family moved down from Prescott, and expressed an interest in being involved with the Royals.  By the time it was all said and done, they had created Royals 2.0, and I was happily able to step aside and let them take over.

Anyhow,  they approached me to let me know how much they appreciated everything I did for the Royals, and IHAAZ in general, and wanted to tell me that my contributions, and those of Micah, would never be forgotten.  They handed me two helmet stickers–simple circles with the number 37 in the middle.  The Royals have officially retired Micah’s number, and the players will all wear “37” stickers on their helmets.  I choked up.  I was touched…but I immediately felt Micah’s presence–and loss, with gusto.

Finally, upon my return to work on Monday morning, I discovered that the husband of one of my coworkers had committed suicide late last week.

Put it all together, and I’ve felt like I’m in a full emotional downward spiral for the past week.

Even things that normally perk me up have only created limited emotional bumps.  I finally got to don the new custom-made costume and become The Greatest Showman, hosting three Greatest Showman Sing-Alongs on Sunday (2) and again Monday night (1).  I’ve been in Tucson to announce three exciting Roadrunners wins.  As fun as those games and sing-alongs have been, there has been little lingering happiness afterwards.

So, how do I continue moving forward?

For starters, my continued efforts at self-improvement have made me physically feel better.  In eight weeks on Weight Watchers, I have dropped over 30 pounds (today’s weigh-in pending).  I have become more active, taking brisk one-mile walks every night that I’m home before 10pm.  I have watched my waistline retreat from barely fitting in size 40 pants with stretch waistbands, to being able to get into size 38 pants (with a minimum of discomfort).  I can once again comfortably wear 2XL shirts, instead of 3XL shirts.  I’m more comfortable driving.  I’m looking forward to my next flight, where the seat won’t feel quite so cramped.  Even though 30 pounds of weight loss in two months is fantastic–it’s just a start: my goal is to lose at least 75 pounds total before our big 2019 summer trip to Europe.  I’d love to be down around 200 pounds by next summer–nearly 100 pounds less of me than Fall 2018.

I’m getting ready to start my own podcast.  My first podcasts will be about MLB baseball and, more specifically, the Chicago Cubs.  From there, I may hit a number of other topics.  The hardware is all in place, I just need to find some good podcast-creation software for the Mac.

My second annual (?) trip to Chicago to watch the Roadrunners take on my former favorite AHL team, the Chicago Wolves, is rapidly approaching.  In fact, that trip is just over 48 hours away.  While in Chicago, I’ll get to have lunch with by brother, hopefully hang out with one of my good friends (and soon-to-be Cubs podcast partner), root on my Roadrunners on the road, and make my annual pilgrimage to Booby’s in Niles for a skirt steak sandwich.  I might even make a side trip over to Kaufman’s in Skokie or Max and Benny’s in Northbrook for a good, Kosher corned beef sandwich and some of the best fresh pickles in existence.  (Unfortunately, the aforementioned Weight Watchers diet will keep me away from most of their fantastic baked good…)  I considered enjoying one lunch at Poochie’s in Skokie–but just thinking about two big juicy Vienna Beef hot dogs, slathered with cheddar cheese, and a big order of fresh-cut fries is causing me to gain weight.  Booby’s will have to suffice as my “cheat” meal on this trip.

Finally, most germane to this blog, I’m going to get back to writing more frequent blog posts.  Maybe getting my thoughts out more frequently will help my overall emotional state.  (And, I’m finally going to get to writing a novel–that’s on my 2019 to-do list.)  I guess we’ll see soon enough.

 

David

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