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

Random thoughts from the most random of minds…

A Walk Through Memories

Hello? Is this thing on?

Oh, I suppose it’s not the equipment that’s at fault here. I’ve been so busy with life’s many intricacies that I have all but abandoned my blog. So much has happened over the past eighteen months… I’ve addressed some of it in my couple random posts during that time, but those barely scraped the surface. Separation…divorce…engagement…marriage… Normalcy…COVID…semi-post-COVID… Appellate attorney…Juvenile attorney again…hat in the ring for both commissioner and city Associate Judge positions… Tesla…Kona…back to a Tesla… Mac…PC…back to Mac… iOS…iOS and Android…what might be next?

There have been some consistencies over the past couple years. Micah is never far from my thoughts. I’m still your friendly neighborhood PA Guy (although the teams may have changed a bit). Still clearly a tech junkie. Still clearly a SciFi geek–one very excited about one of his first and true SciFi loves hitting the screen in September.

Looking at how much I have to say, I suppose I need to pick a jumping-off point. Might as well start with the present: my recently concluded “quick trip” to Chicago.

Back in August of 2015, I started what could best be termed as “a habit.” I decided that I needed some time away, a mental health break, if you will. I picked up tickets to a couple Cubs-Giants games at Wrigley Field, bought a plane ticket, and snagged a hotel room “close” to Wrigley Field. No work. No responsibilities. Just me, Chicago, the Cubs, and a chance to breathe. Fast-forward six years and more than a dozen similar trips later, and I’m still taking these little escapes to Chicago.

This trip was less about a breather, and more about doing something that I had not done since living in Chicago, over 23 years ago: spending my brother’s birthday actually celebrating with my brother. Where, you ask, would we do such a thing?

It was an amazing afternoon–a little hot, perhaps, but still a great day for baseball. Little did we know then that this would be our last chance to see the core of the 2016 Championship team together, wearing Cubs jerseys. That core did quite well for themselves, with Bryant and Rizzo going deep back-to-back in the first inning, and the Cubs hanging on for a 5-1 win over the Diamondbacks.

Me being the post-2018 version of me, I decided to start the day with a long walk: from my hotel in the Loop, in the heart of Downtown Chicago, to Wrigley Field, five miles away. Me also being me, I could not help but capture the walk in pictures…

Taking that long walk north (and, yes, my blister will also testify to the long walk back south after dinner with my brother), I let my mind wander. Chicago, for it’s many detractors, those who want to focus on the old media adage of “if it bleeds, it leads,” is an amazingly beautiful city. The juxtaposition of old concrete buildings, new steel high-rises, and then, in the middle of it, large swaths of green. Not just a tree here or a patch of grass there, but entire fields of grass, trees, places to play, relax, set a picnic in the park. Sure, Manhattan has Central Park, but Chicago has dozens of parks throughout the city. Respites for the concrete-and-steel weary seemingly in every neighborhood.

Every new block brought about a different memory of days gone by. One moment, I’m staring at a series of rowhouses on Webster, thinking about friends and relatives who have lived in similar homes on the city’s Near North, North, and Northwest sides. A few moments later, I pass by a stretch of green with a metal playground set, and I think about trips with my grandparents to Indian Boundary Park on the North Side. I remember going grocery shopping with my Grandpa Morrie and Grandma Sarah in Rodgers Park. I remember sitting on the sofa with my Grandma Tillie, just listening to music and having her tell stories of her youth.

I walk into the heart of Lincoln Park (the neighborhood), and remember living for a year in my tiny studio apartment on Deming, just a heartbeat away from the classic vinyl shops, a short walk from the lakefront. I shiver as I think about those cold winters when I had to decide whether to walk over and catch the 22 on Clark Street, or walk a couple blocks further over to the Fullerton “L” stop, and take the Ravenswood or Evanston Express downtown instead. I think back to those grocery shopping trips over to the Lincoln Park Market (now a Walgreens) just down the street.

A five-mile walk that, once upon a time, would make me weary and extremely conscious of my aching feet, seemed to just fly by as I floated from one memory of twenty-five years living in and around Chicago to the next. Every sight, sound, smell…another pleasant stroll down Memory Lane. (Okay, so by the time I finished the walk back to the hotel on Sunday night, perhaps the most tender thoughts were of my tender feet…but I digress.)

So many memories that we keep in our heads, in our hearts. Even after fifty years of gathering memories, the most important ones stay, just as vibrant as ever, and bloom and grow as we think about them.

A tinge of sadness, as I thought about how I did not get to share all of these memories with Micah, how I have not yet shared many of them with Avi. A mission now, for the near future, is to begin to share as much as I can with Avi. My desire, now, is to create new memories with Avi, with Deahanna, my wife, with my stepkids, with new friends, known and to this point unknown.

In the end, memories are what we get to keep, when all the “things” are gone…

Sometimes just the smallest things…

Missing.

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.

There was just one more hour…

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

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.

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. ❤️

David

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

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

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


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