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

Random thoughts from the most random of minds…

That time of year, I guess…

For several weeks, I have been battling to look externally calm and composed, while internally turmoil rages.

It has been almost two years since Micah passed away, but I still feel it as though I am still on the drive home from the hospital, having just watched my son take his last breath.  Nothing has changed, emotionally.  Perhaps nothing ever will.  Over 23 months have passed, and every good thing that has happened is tinged with the aura of the worst-possible thing that might have laid the foundation for those good things.

I’ve mused in the past about what might be my inability to truly relax, to truly enjoy free time.  I have tried quick trips to Wrigley Field for Cubs games.  I have tried simply breathing and enjoying my quiet drives to and from Tucson for Roadrunners games.  As I sit here, contemplating a variety of topics this afternoon, I honestly wonder where all my time goes.  I have not read a book (for pleasure) in years.  Sure, I go to the movies more than most, but that’s really only maybe four or five hours a week on average.  I have only watched maybe three full seasons of television shows in the past year, and little other television besides Chicago Cubs and occasionally Chicago Bears games.  I don’t go to bars or clubs.  I am rarely invited to parties.  I’ve seen half a dozen touring company performances of Broadway shows.  I’ve taken nine total days of “getaway road trips”.  Where did the rest of my time go?

Sometimes I find that the line between “work” and “fun” blurs too easily.  Sure, doing public address announcing for the Roadrunners is “work,” but being at the rink, talking to the game day crew, even the occasional passing word with a player or coach–those are examples of fun, of enjoyment, of satisfaction.  Spending hours upon hours creating the schedule for the Cactus Cup youth hockey tournament is definitely work, but the camaraderie with the tournament steering committee, the satisfaction of doing a great job–those are contentment.  That time brings a smile to my face.

I used to explain, on a regular basis, that one of the reasons I got so involved in youth hockey, one of the reasons I spent so much time at the rink, was that the rink was my bar, my club, my place of social interaction.  My friends were there.  I could walk into pretty much any rink in the Valley and people would know me, talk to me.  I was rarely alone at the rink.

Then Micah died.

Being at the rink became more painful than pleasant.  Everything was a reminder of what I had lost.  More and more, people asked why I was still there when my son was gone.  More and more, the faces around me began to change.  Some of this was undoubtedly my perception more than reality, but some was reality–cold and unwelcoming.  After struggling to stay engaged for a year, I began to back away in earnest.

Gone today are the direct ties to any particular organization.  Gone today are the regular youth hockey scorekeeping gigs, with only a remnant of old promises bringing me back to the rinks at all.  Gone is my involvement with the state youth ice hockey league.  What part of me that remains involved in youth hockey, remains because of the friendships that have survived my son.

With hockey no longer covering my calendar like a thick blanket of snow in December, the calendar is laid bare, and the memories and emotions with it.  I don’t feel like celebrating.  I don’t want to force myself into situations where I would normally not be openly welcome.  If I turn down your invite for a Christmas party, it is not because I’m part of the “War on Christmas” or because you aren’t acknowledging Hanukkah (though, admittedly, that probably is in the back of my mind somewhere), its probably just because of how acute my pain is right now, and how awkward it can seem to be invited in December to that which I am not welcome during the other eleven months of the year.

During this holiday season, I miss my son.  I miss my goalie, my tenor, my actor, my creative child, my smart-ass Xbox player.  I miss my first-born.  I miss Micah.

There’s a hole in the world tonight
There’s a cloud of fear and sorrow
There’s a hole in the world tonight
Don’t let there be a hole in the world tomorrow

–Hole in the World, The Eagles (2001)

Unfortunately, this hole in the world is not going anywhere.  It will be here tomorrow, and the next day, and forever.

I have been away from my keyboard for too long.  I have let all of these emotions bottle up because I was too busy, too stressed or simply too exhausted to write about them.  I need to find or make the time to express myself.





Thoughts from My Well

One month has gone by since my last blog entry.  Like most bloggers, I imagine, the silence has been caused by an excess of things to write about, not a lack of them.

Presently, I am seated at my desk, trying to push my way through so many things: physical illness, emotional turmoil, work, use of free time (if there really is any), just to have a place to begin.

Physically, I discovered late last weekend (October 21-22) that I had a rash of some sort on my nose.  Oddly enough, this was completely confined to the left side of my nose and a little on the tip.  I felt sluggish.  My nose, overall, felt like someone had dried a coating of super glue over it.  I also felt a general soreness on my left temple and just under the hairline.  Having decided to take the Monday off after my brief Chicago excursion, the way was clear for a relaxing lunch break at urgent care.

The nurse practitioner took one look at my nose, checked my temperature (100.4), and informed me that I was suffering from a bout of herpes zoster — commonly known as shingles.  How odd, she mentioned, that I would get shingles under 50 years old.  The prognosis: I should be fine in two or three weeks, but in the meantime, I could expect the rash to become blistered, the blisters to break, and then once the skin issues clear up, I could expect to suffer from some mild to severe pain for the next couple/few weeks.  Yay!  Thanks Doc!  Oh, one more warning, she said, “if your eyes start to bother you at all, or you notice the blisters/rashes getting close to your eyes, immediately go to the emergency room.”  It seems that shingles on the face can get into your cornea and, oh, cause blindness.

Monday and Tuesday were filled with medications, a little extra sleep, and some light work from home.  Tuesday night, I started feeling my left eye getting itchy.  I woke Wednesday morning to find my left eye crusted shut and painful.  Time for a 4:45am trip to the emergency room.  Sure enough, the virus had crept into my cornea.  Another prescription ($150/bottle eye drops) and an afternoon, rush hour appointment with an ophthalmologist in central Phoenix later, I was on the road to recovery.

Fast-forward to today.  I have a bandage and gauze on my nose where the virus and some cheap bandage adhesive managed to destroy a few layers of skin.  The base of my nose and my upper lip are still feeling like they’re coated with dried super glue.  The rash is still visible on my forehead.  And now, most of the left side of my head has transitioned to the “bring the pain” stage.  Constant, throbbing pain in my temple, on the side of my head, and in the back of my head.  Taking ibuprofen and naproxen sodium is helping, but not much.  My answer, when people ask how I’m feeling?  “I’m pushing through.”

Nothing like a little facial scarring (and that’s being nice about it) to make a guy feel physically like a troll.  With a couple brief exceptions, I did not show my face outside the house until Friday night’s Roadrunners game.  I just felt/feel ugly and disgusting.  This was a great time to slip into depression over my overall situation.

I spent most of the weekend, aside from my parole breaks to Tucson for the Roadrunners, feeling like I just wanted to seclude myself in my bedroom or home office.  That feeling has not waned.  Add into the mix a mini emotional meltdown on Sunday morning after an old friend called, and the subject of Micah came up.  I had been so busy with life over the past few weeks that I had not thought much about my son.  Now, everything for 48 hours would remind me of Micah’s absence: playing music from Hamilton, riding past the ice rink, driving near a high school, Styrofoam headstones set up as part of Halloween.  A low point to be sure…

And, as often happens when I get low, I start to wonder about things.  What is a friend?

  • Someone that calls first to see how you’re doing;
  • Someone that vents to you, and allows you to vent in return;
  • Someone that you hear from without a real reason — someone that calls not because they need something from you, but because they just need to hear your voice;
  • Someone that genuinely wants to spend time with and around you.

Best friends are the ones that can sense when you need them there, and are never too quick to be there for you.  They can empathically sense your need for their presence in some fashion.  Yes, sometimes they can get a bit annoying asking, “Are you okay?  Is everything all right?”, but you know they are sincerely concerned–and that, in and of itself, is comforting.

When you get down, you start to try and take inventory of your friends.  Who is there, reaching out to you, or there to be reached out to?  You can feel the circle tighten.  You can sense when people have shaken loose of that circle of friendship.  I sensed that I had an unfortunate number of “friends” holding onto the circle with just a pinky finger…

It’s Halloween.  Time to hang out candy to cute neighborhood kids.  I was going to dress up, but my costume choices require makeup, and right now, with the open sores still on my face, that won’t be happening.  So, I’ll just sit there in a Sith-like robe and twirl a lightsaber…and think about what to talk about in my next blog post.




First off, I want to thank those of you that read my blog yesterday and reached out to make sure I was okay.  I’m fine.  I’m still here.  No self-harm conducted (none intended), unless you count torturing myself by watching the Cubs trot a couple pitchers out last night that really don’t belong in a game where you might clinch the NL Central Championship.

I suppose this is the big problem with just opening up the spigot and letting my words and ideas pour out onto the page.  For those of you that really know me, I do tend to be occasionally dramatic.  I did feel pretty low yesterday, but not that low.  My poem was more to make a point about how sometimes, in the words of Joni Mitchell, “Don’t it always seem to go, that you don’t know what you’ve got ’till its gone.”  Part of my lingering guilt with Micah has always been that maybe I was too silent.  I didn’t intrude and talk to him enough, even when he didn’t seem to want to talk.  Maybe I missed his call for help…

In a time and place now where many at least give lip service to the idea that they want people to reach out and talk about mental illness, talk about their issues with someone, not feel alone, I think we (I?) still face many moments where we’re not sure who to really reach out to.  And, if you pick the wrong person (people), you too might find–silence.

From the time I was in junior high, I have always been one of those people that others seek out to tell their problems, talk about their lives, seek encouragement from.  The way some girls would come and talk to me about their relationship woes, you would have thought I had some kind of PhD in psychology and human relationships.  In some manner, this has continued up until today.  Granted, now, with over 40 years of life experience behind me, my advice might be a little more grounded and practical than it was at 14.  Being “that friend” has never really bothered me.  I have always been someone who cares about his friends and others around him.  If I can help a friend having a tough time, I’m right there.

We live in a very self-centered world.  An awful lot of people around us are only motivated by what is best for them and those closest to them.  Other people’s problems are just that–OTHER people’s problems.  Now, I’m not bashing taking care of your family first, but there has to be more to life than only caring about those that live within your own four walls.  Where is the sense of community?  Where is the sense of humanity?  No, not everyone needs to donate their paycheck to relief efforts in Puerto Rico, or Mexico City, or Houston, or Miami (or any of the other dozens upon dozens of places that need humanitarian aid).  But you can at least care about what is happening to other people.  You don’t need to offer to sponsor someone’s health insurance in a poor section of town, but you can at least support some kind of plan that doesn’t make basic health care needs so expensive that many go without until it’s too late.  You might be a proud Christian, but that doesn’t mean you have to deny other people the right to practice their own religious (or non-religious) beliefs.

Despite knowing all of this, I still get down when I think about the one-way street that friendships can sometimes become.  I suppose all I can do is try not to do to others what annoys me so much–try not to only ask for support from others, but not ever be prepared or willing to return that support.

…and, of course, keep writing.  This morning, I woke up and found a little daybreak from the darkness…



It has been a while since I’ve written anything for my blog.  I’ve been so incredibly busy and/or tired (usually as a result), that I have not really had time to sit down and write out what’s on my mind.

I had hinted in a few past blog entries that I started the ball rolling on a potential big change in my life.  Unfortunately, this morning was when I found out that the big change is not going to happen.  I managed to get closer to the change than I thought might be possible, but in the end, I was not the right fit for the new opportunity.  They were looking for someone with a little different skill set than I possess, as I kind of thought might be the case after my interview, and today I received the confirmation of that instinct.

This should not really bother me.  I understood going in that this might be somewhat of a longshot, and that as exciting as the opportunity was, and as much as I would have liked to be a part of this new direction, the odds were not in my favor.  Still, it burns to hear that you aren’t what someone is looking for.  I imagine the feeling is the same or worse for people that experience that message in their personal relationships.

So, I’m back to square one.  No big change on the horizon any longer.  There are decisions that I may need to make in the future, but for now, it’s all status quo.

Kneeling.  Locking arms.  Not kneeling.  Freedom of Speech.  Freedom to protest.  “Disrespecting” physical symbols.  Hypocrisy.  Something as simple as a silent protest of the way an entire group of people are treated has turned into a deep morass of ugliness.  On one side, you have the President, tweeting insults to professional athletes, demanding that private business owners fire those athletes.  You have people picking up the most recent meme off their favorite media site and blindly running with it.  Kneeling became “disrespect for the flag.”  Kneeling became “disrespect for the National Anthem.”  Kneeling became “disrespect for the Office of President.”  Kneeling became “disrespect for the military.”

Disrespect for the flag.  Hmmm.  Player chooses not to stand for the National Anthem as a silent protest for racial injustice.  (If you are responding by claiming there is no such thing, you are willfully blind and ignorant.  You may want to just close this window and unfollow my blog.)  Those who experience no racial injustice (or worse, perpetrate it on others) cry out that these are millionaires who don’t suffer at all and are being selfish.  Those that believe it’s not okay to protest in any way that makes them uncomfortable or forces them to think about someone besides themselves jump on any excuse to attack the protesters.

Selfish?  Isn’t it the opposite of selfishness to stand up for others?  Just because your chosen figurehead leaders are all about building, maintaining and keeping wealth for themselves (and the wealthiest around them) does not mean that everyone that has money really feels or acts that way.  Players in the NFL have venue and ability to deliver their messages to a national audience–something that the families of black children gunned down by police officers, who were then later acquitted by “the system” of murder charges despite overwhelming evidence of guilt, something that black and latino/latina parents who worry that their children will be pulled over by a police officer targeting them because of their skin color–something these and many others being spoken for do not have the voice themselves that can be heard.

How does the flag enter into this discussion in the first place, except as a diversionary tactic shared by the President because he knows his diehard base will jump all over any such accusation as being “unpatriotic”?  The flag is an elegant static symbol of our country.  It’s more than that though.  The flag is a symbol of what this country stands for, best encapsulated in the United States Constitution and its associated amendments–chief of which, in the Bill of Rights, is the right to free speech and assembly–the inherent right to peaceful protest.

What does our valiant military fight for?  They do not fight to protect a colorful piece of cloth–they fight to protect the ideals symbolized by that cloth.  As many members, current and former, of our military have stated over the past few days, they fight to defend our right to hold exactly these kinds of protests–they fight to defend our right to free speech.  I have not yet read about a single NFL, NBA, MLB or other major league athlete that spoke out against the military or gave any indication whatsoever that his or her protest was against those protecting our country and everything it stands for.  Yet, the President says that’s what the protesters are doing, so those who avidly follow him actively parrot that.

The National Anthem, The Star-Spangled Banner, is another symbol–in poetry and music–of our country and national heritage.  How does kneeling during these bars of music disrespect that music?  I won’t get into the history of the song itself, written by an angry white supremacist…

Disrespect for the Office of the President.  It is as though many seem to think that the President gets a free pass on anything he says or tweets because, well, he’s the President.  He tweets that North Korea “soon won’t exist.”  He tweets that the Klan members, white nationalists and Nazis protesting in Charlottesville, Virginia are “good people.”  He tweets about the removal of Confederate statues is destroying “our culture.”

Stop.  Let’s think about that.  People are so utterly concerned with disrespect for the Stars and Stripes, the official Flag of the United States of America, but celebrate the Flag of the Conferedate States of America–the symbol of a foreign government that attempted to overthrow the United States of America (in part to maintain the institution of black slavery, by the way), somehow does not disrespect the Flag of the United States.

These are NFL players under contract.  They cannot protest at work.  Stop again.  How many of those speaking up against the NFL players (and now coaches and owners as well) cried out over the clerk in Kentucky fired because she refused to do her job and issue marriage licenses to gay couples?  Oh wait–that’s different, they all say.  That was based on her religious beliefs.  So, she should have been able to protest by refusing to do her job and denying other residents of Kentucky marriage licenses, but NFL players should not be allowed to silently protest in a manner that denies no one their rights.

Back to the Office of the President for a moment.  When you see anyone complaining that he is The President, and whether we like it or not, we need to respect him and his office, look back through their Facebook or Twitter feeds to the Obama years.  I’m sure those same people showed due respect for President Obama and his Presidency.  Yes, they’ll have lots of excuses–but it amounts to the same thing.

These are dark times in our world.  We have disgusting growth in hate crimes and racial incidents since this President took office.  We have far too many people that can still look you in the eye and with all seriousness claim, “We don’t have a racism problem here.”  You mention Black Lives Matter and the knee-jerk reaction is, “Terrorists!”  You talk about the well-documented issues in certain areas with police brutality against minority Americans, and their response is, “What about black-on-black crime?”  You have a President that pardons a sheriff that was convicted of violating a court order (given repeatedly) to stop arresting people just because of the color of their skin–even though the criminal case had no actually even finalized yet.  To some, that pardon was past due–he was rounding up all those illegal aliens (who, according to those same people, have no rights).  Congress is battling to dismantle the Affordable Care Act (or as its know, Obamacare), not because they have a better plan to offer, but because it smells of the black man who was in the White House.  The three attempts to get rid of the ACA?  Each one was universally panned by every responsible patient-advocate group in the country.  Each one would have kicked millions of Americans off health insurance–either directly or indirectly by making their premiums so high as to be unaffordable.  Each one would have given states the ability to decide which services should be excluded from mandatory coverage–including mental health care and treatment, coverage for pre-existing conditions, coverage for various types of cancer treatment, coverage for various women’s services.

I have days where I cannot read my Facebook feed.  Sometimes it’s because of pictures of Micah, reminders of my late son that are too unbearable to read or view.  However, more often recently, its reading the blind anger of people that do not respect the rights, thoughts or beliefs of others.  Sure, that goes, to a degree, on both sides of the political fence, but far more often it’s one side talking about banning forms of protest, complaining about protests being in the wrong venue or at the wrong time, perceived insults to our country because patriotism can only by on one side.

Maybe my real problem is that, imagined or real, I often feel isolated from those around me to begin with.  This leads to not really caring if people unfriend me on Facebook or Twitter because they disagree with my posts.  After all, far too many of my Facebook friends seem to be passers-by, just watching my posts and moving on.  Not that I ever truly want to find out, but were I ever in crisis, I wonder how many of my friends would actually be there, and how many would just disappear all together.

It has been twenty months since Micah died.  In one day–really, in one hour–I lost one of the most precious souls I will ever know.  I lost my son and everything that he was.  For a few weeks, a couple months, I experienced an incredible outpouring of support and emotion from those around me.  After a few months, the attrition began.  Then I stopped being a go-to person for youth hockey, and the attrition accelerated.  In my darkest moments, I honestly wonder how many people would notice if I simply deactivated my Facebook page and disappeared into obscurity all together.  Some would feel relief–not having to read posts like this one any longer.  A few might genuinely wonder where I went.  Most would go about their daily business…

Treating well
Those that do for you.
Reaching out
To those that listen.

Of what others can offer.
The most useful in your sphere.

Offers only if your calendar is empty.
Those that may offer in the future.

When they call.
When they reach out for help.

When filling your calendar.
When their participation is not a benefit.

When friendship is inconvenient.
When they are gone.



Yes, I am feeling down and dark.  No, I am not leaving.

Life Imbalance

This morning, it started with a picture.

Engaged in my normal “wakeup” routine of checking overnight email (mainly ads), news stories and my Facebook feed, I stumbled across this morning’s Facebook memory from six years ago: an incredibly happy Micah, showing off his first place trophy from a Labor Day Weekend hockey tournament.  That smile.  That unbridled happiness.  Never to be experienced again.

What do you do when you miss your son more than words can begin to describe, but seeing happy pictures of him turn you into a slobbering, tear-stained mess?

You cry.  You hurt.  You battle to keep any semblance of composure to get your work done.  You try to put the picture and your feelings of guilt and loss to the side, and focus on something mundane like fleshing out a dry legal argument, like writing a brief.  You close your office door so no one else can see the mess you have become (and, partially, so you can just shut out the outside world and get your draft finished).

The hurt doesn’t just stop.  You try to smile, make a joke, lighten your own mood–but no moments of levity last.  You continue to try and put a brave face on, to show strength over weakness.  You head home and make dinner, and try to smile at your loved ones–but you know that, if they shared your morning Micah moment, they too would be miserable.

You even contemplate skipping your chance to hang out with your movie-going Film Club friends.  In the end, you decide that maybe a nice, funny-yet-thought-provoking film and time just hanging out with your Film Club friends might be what you need.

It works–in the short-run.  Movie is incredibly funny and gets your brain chasing themes and higher concepts.  The after-movie discussion is as enjoyable and spirited as always (and the movie’s director and co-writer is animated, happy-go-lucky, and clearly just a fan himself, enjoying a chance to talk to the Film Club).  The after-after-movie discussion is even more entertaining, as half a dozen core Film Club folks just stand in the parking lot, talking about all things film for an additional hour plus.

And then the crowd breaks up.  Everyone needs to go home and sleep, be ready for their Wednesday mornings at work.  You feel the joy and happiness slowly fade, the further you get away from the theater.  Fatigue sets in.

Home.  Quiet.  Everyone is asleep.  You write a short blog entry, talking about your life, imbalanced.  You close your eyes and say Good Night.  You hope for a better, less imbalanced, happier overall tomorrow.

Good Night.


Letting It Go – with Idina Menzel

No, sorry, Idina herself is not participating in tonight’s blog post.  I would welcome Idina to participate if she wanted to, but I don’t really have that kind of connection.

It’s been a very busy start to the holiday weekend (for my non-American readers, this is Labor Day Weekend, all government offices (including my own) and services are shut down tomorrow, Monday, as a result).  I think, at some level, I subconsciously did my best to fill up the weekend with distractions.

I put myself out there to actually scorekeep youth hockey games this weekend.  Total number of games I was scheduled to scorekeep: four.  I’m not bitter, just a little surprised and mostly done with youth hockey scorekeeping.  I know the ref scheduler for the nearest rink will likely schedule me for games if I ask, so maybe I’ll work a few tournament games here and there, and I’m going to scorekeep a handful of league games for some of Micah’s old teammates…but I think that’s it for this season.  And, after this season, I’m probably going to hang up the USA Hockey scoresheet and pen all together.

Saturday afternoon provided one of the highlights of the weekend: learning how to sew.  Yes, you read that right — I want to learn how to properly use a sewing machine and start expressing my creativity by creating costumes for cosplay and the like.  From my first afternoon lesson (Thanks Mel!!), I think it might take a few lessons before I’m actually starting to make something particularly special, but I’ve started my way down the path to becoming a bit of a tailor.

After finally getting Avi on her USY trip bus to Disneyland at just after midnight, I came home for a nap–and then headed to Peoria (55 miles away, other side of the Phoenix metro area from me) for our annual state roller hockey in-person Board meeting.  End result, three-and-a-half hours later, is that I walked away as the league administrator AND the Board Treasurer.  I have a lot of work to do over the next week or two to get things set up.  More details on this in a future post…

I did a little light grocery shopping on my way home from the Peoria meeting, and then headed off to a quiet dinner with my wife.  After dinner, it was off to the Comerica Theatre in Downtown Phoenix for an evening with Idina Menzel.

If you don’t know who Idina Menzel is, Google her name.  Most noteworthy to the general public, she was the speaking and singing voice of Elsa in the Disney animated musical, FROZEN (hence the LET IT GO reference).  She originated the role of Elphaba (the green-skinned earlier incarnation of the Wicked Witch) in WICKED.  She also originated the role of Maureen in the Broadway production of RENT, and then reprised her role in the 2005 film version of the show.  For GLEE fans, she played Shelby, Rachel’s birth mother, throughout a couple seasons of the FOX show.

I knew what kind of evening this was going to be when her second song performed was SEASONS OF LOVE from RENT.  I lost it.  Cynthia lost it.  Between SEASONS OF LOVE and an a Capella rendition of NO DAY BUT TODAY, and DEFYING GRAVITY and an a Capella performance of FOR GOOD from WICKED, we were both wrecks for the evening.  Micah was a huge fan of both musicals (as heretical as it may be, even more so than HAMILTON).  When Cynthia found Micah that fateful night, music from RENT was playing on his laptop.

Idina is an incredible performer.  She has a very unique vocal style that makes everything she sings “pop.”  She performed showtunes, original pieces and even a little classic Simon and Garfunkle (BRIDGE OVER TROUBLED WATERS).  Not only was Idina fabulous, but her backup musicians were more than up to the task, especially her backup singers / strings section / percussion players — yes, this was the same three women on stage covering vocals, strings (one violin, one cello) and percussion.

I don’t think Cynthia or I will ever forget this night.  Idina Menzel’s music touched us in ways that music normally wouldn’t touch us.  I could feel Micah there with me tonight.  I could almost see his face in the busy backdrop behind Idina as she performed.  Cynthia and I might have held the tickets and sat in the audience, but this was really Micah’s show.  This was Micah’s music, Micah’s performer, and a reminder that certain things will always be about Micah.

525,600 minutes,
525,600 moments so dear.
525,600 minutes.
How do you measure, measure a year?
In daylights, in sunsets, in midnights
In cups of coffee
In inches, in miles, in laughter, in strife.
In 525,600 minutes
How do you measure a year in the life?

How about love?  How about love?
How about love?  Measure in love:

Seasons of love
Seasons of love.


I love you Micah,


Sharing Distractions

Simply put, some days are better than others.  Today has not been one of those better days.  Despite a number of potential distractions that could be pulling me away from missing my son, Micah is front and center in all my thoughts today.  I’m going to see if I can write a little, share my distractions with you, and move forward with the rest of my day.

Tablet Flip

I realized a few weeks ago that I was using my iPad less and less with each passing day.  Of course, I realized this as I pondered the idea of upgrading to the new iPad Pro 10.5 — typical for me.  The more I stared at the price and pondered, the more I realized that it really made no sense to spend nearly $900 on a new tablet that I would predominantly use for light web surfing, social media following, keeping up on the news and the occasional peek at my finances, budget and a little light writing.  The tablet gets used on trips — and as a bedtime reading device.  It used to get a lot of use for hockey scorekeeping, but that’s really not much of a factor any longer.  I use my laptop for music and sound effects for the Knights Junior A team as well as any college games I might scorekeep.

The other thing that is constantly on my tech mind is the Android versus iOS battle.  I have owned and used iPhones on at least four occasions.  I have owned two iPads.  At the same time, I have had countless Android phones, and at least three Android tablets that I I recall off-hand.  I get pulled into iOS because, in moments of weakness, I get excited about minor design flourishes.  When I’m in a chart-reading mood, I appreciate the killer benchmarks of Apples’s A9x, A10x, etc. silicon.  In the end though, its real, daily use that signals the end of my iOS flights of fancy.  Sure, it’s great that my iPad Air or iPad Mini or iPad Pro has the fastest chip — but it’s completely unnecessary for the uses listed above.  What I do appreciate is utility, lower cost, customizability, widgets…all the things that Android, in all its various recent forms, give me in spades.

Enter the new LG G Pad X2 8.0 Plus.  $240 plus tax.  Available from T-Mobile for $10/mo over 24 months with zero percent interest, using my unlimited tablet data plan (with actual HD streaming video enabled) for $20/mo.  Small (8″ screen, similar to iPad Mini), light (it feels lighter than my Samsung S8+ phone), small but decent battery (2900mAh), high quality display (1920×1080), expandable memory (32gb built-in plus a microSD slot), it hits a lot of sweet spots.  Is it a 4K tablet?  No–but I’m not sure why I’d need one.  Does Android have a ton of great tablet-specific apps?  No, but at just 8″, most phone apps look fine on it.  What it can do?  It can run Google Play Music for scorekeeping purposes.  It can run a number of easy to set up soundboard apps for playing sound effects.  It can fit much more comfortably in my hand at bedtime or on the couch–or wherever.  It’s a perfect size for airline tray tables that seem to be shrinking by the hour.

Even better — the new G Pad X2 8.0 comes with a magnetic docking station.  This isn’t just any docking station, but a relatively small magnetic box with a solid kickstand, a full-size USB port, decent stereo speakers and an additional 4400mAh battery.  On the plane, it provides a solid kickstand and expansion of the battery to 7300mAh overall (guessing we’re talking easily 12+ hours even with consistent use).  From my first night with the tablet, the only glitch I saw was the “screensaver” feature (kind of like an “always on” while the tablet is plugged in or on the docking station) did not kick in.

First impressions:

  • Screen is plenty bright (had it at 55 percent, and it looked bright) and easy to read — and I have it set at the smallest font settings.
  • Scrolling isn’t instantaneous (guessing this is running on a 600-series Snapdragon octa-core chip, specific series is not identified in the specs), but it’s not particularly annoying.  Running 5-6 apps at once does not seem to slow anything down.
  • No fingerprint reader, so you need to use a password, “knock-code”, PIN or facial recognition if you want to secure the tablet.
  • Shocked that, with the rest of the world — including LG’s higher-end phones — going to USB-C for power, this tablet still uses a Micro USB port.  Not a huge deal — easy enough to find microUSB cables, I just fear accidentally trying to plug in the cord upside down in the dark and breaking it.  (Something to be said for either USB-C or Apple’s Lightning port’s reversibility.)
  • Battery life is OK.  Considering the battery is smaller than my phone (although it does have to drive a lower resolution screen and power a less powerful processor), I don’t expect excessive battery life.  I turned the phone on with about 85 percent battery out of the box around 5:30pm last night, and used it pretty constantly, including lots of WiFi data use, until around 10pm.  Battery was down to 21 percent when I started recharging at 10:30.  So, 64 percent of the battery used in five hours — I imagine with heavy use, a fully-charged battery would last maybe seven to eight hours.

I’ll post a more thorough review after I’ve had a couple weeks to play with the tablet.  For now, $240 seems a more-than-fair price, and I’m already really enjoying tinkering with my widgets, apps, and all the other things I get to mess with in Android.

Your Chicago Cubs

70-60.  Two-and-a-half game lead over the second-place Brewers, five game lead over the third-place Cardinals.  Last night, the Cubs sixth starter, Mike Montgomery, pitched his second consecutive dazzling outing.  Seven-plus innings, one run allowed–on a solo home run in the top of the eighth–and that was it.  This follows up a six-inning, no runs allowed outing.  Perhaps that little under-the-radar trade last year is really starting to pay dividends (okay, Montgomery DID get the final out in the tenth inning of Game Seven of the World Series).  I don’t know if Montgomery’s solid pitching right now will equate to him getting a chance to be the fourth starter for the playoffs, as that would require the Cubs to admit that John Lackey might be better off at home than on the mound (his own words from a few weeks ago), and to take their recent trade acquisition, Jose Quintana, and put him in the bullpen (or, like Lackey, leave him off the postseason roster).  Maybe it will be a matchups kind of deal.  If the Cubs play the Dodgers, who are much better off against RHPs, maybe they go with Lester (L), Arrieta (R, but he’s Arrieta), Quintana (L) and Montgomery (L), and use Hendricks as a long-man.  If they play the Diamondbacks, who hit LHP a bit better, maybe it’s Hendricks instead of Quintana.  Most likely, this is all a pipe-dream, and Montgomery’s greatest reward for the way he’s pitching will be walking into 2018 Spring Training as the fourth starter, behind already-signed Lester, Hendricks and Quintana.

Meanwhile, the Cubs offense continues to be hit-and-miss.  As much as I like Joe Maddon’s ability to shuttle guys in and out of the lineup, it can’t be helping with Ian Happ or Kyle Schwarber’s development to have them only play three, maybe four days a week.  This isn’t even scratching the surface of the Cubs top defensive outfielder, Albert Almora, Jr.  The Cubs are only playing him against lefty starters — which is logical, since he’s tattooing lefties this season.  However, it doesn’t really help him develop his eye or his stroke against righties.  John Jay is a good short-term fix, but the more Joe starts him, the lower his average dips.  The Blue Jays just released Nori Aoki, a noted Cubs-killer.  Wonder if the Cubs might take a flyer on him, at least as a utility outfielder and bat off the bench, needed if Jay is going to continue to start five days a week.

Hopefully the Cubs will get their star catcher, Willson Contreras, back in the next two weeks, and maybe recall rookie catcher Victor Caratini on Friday when rosters expand.  Rene Rivera, picked up off waivers from the Mets, to be the veteran backup catcher to intended veteran backup catcher-now-starter Alex Avila, has not really impressed me in his brief stint.  He doesn’t look very good at the plate, and while he seems okay framing pitches, he doesn’t handle balls in the dirt very well, leading to wild pitches that we’re used to seeing Contreras (or Avila, or Caratini) stop.

The next three weeks are going to be huge.  After the Cubs finish their series against Pittsburgh and polish off the homestand with four against Atlanta, they begin a three week stretch where they play the Brewers and Cardinals seven times each.  Good time to get a nice hot streak going against teams they should beat, like Pittsburgh and Atlanta.


I can’t possibly finish my rambling without saying something about Hurricane Harvey and the havoc it has wreaked on Houston and Texas’s Gulf Coast.  Help.  Donate.  Put politics aside and do something if you can.  I have family and friends in the Houston area.  They are safe, but they are certainly not doing “well.”


Did it help me to waltz off into these distractions?  A little.  It’s really hard to trick your own mind into not thinking about one thing in particular.  My brain only took a brief break to try and find the squirrel, before deciding that it was a trick–and it needed to again remind me of Micah.  Sigh.

Another day in virtual isolation, another day of spending too much time thinking about Micah.  I suppose I can’t really think about Micah too much.  He is my son.  He was a large part of my life for almost 16 years (more than 16 if you include Cynthia’s pregnancy).

I have had a lot of valuable things in my life.  Almost all of them could be lost, destroyed, given away, stolen…and my life could go on as it was.  Losing my son…there is no replacement.  There is no thing I can buy–not a house, not a fancy computer or tablet or phone, not a cool car–that can replace my son, that can replace the look in his eyes when he saw me, that can replace the smile, the laugh, the tenor crooning.  Nothing can, nothing will.


It’s quiet…too quiet.


As hard as I try, and perhaps I try too hard, I find that my deepest moments of depression correspond with isolation.  Sometimes the isolation comes first, sometimes its self-imposed during, sometimes its after the low hits, and sometimes it encompasses the whole time.

We all need our quiet time, moments to be with our own thoughts.  I just happen to find that I need less of those moments and more time around other people.  Not just any people, people that I like, that I’m comfortable being “me” around.

There were plenty of triggers last week to push me in the downward direction, a few to nudge me upwards, but the general direction has been a slow southbound stroll.  Isolation was a big part of the end of my week at work.  It was quiet–too quiet, around my office for much of the week.  There were a couple too many texts, emails and other communications that went unanswered.  There were reminders of a crowd that I am no longer part of…

A friend of many years emailed me yesterday.  I’ll leave our political disagreements out of this blog, but there was one comment that really struck me: See you at the rink!  It made me think–there were so many “friendships” (not necessarily including this one) that were the hockey equivalent of work relationships.  You see each other at a common place — in this case, a local hockey rink instead of the workplace — and are friendly, talk to each other, “pal around.”  But nothing ever seems to really happen away from that common place, no BBQs, no evenings out with the families or just the adults.  Now, take the rink away from this equation, and what are you left with?

I have found a new group of friends to build relationships with over the past few months.  I got to spend time with several of them last night at my new second home: the Alamo Drafthouse.  Alamo hosted the Rickmobile, of Rick and Morty fame, and ended the evening with two screenings of one of my all-time favorite movies, BACK TO THE FUTURE.  I arrived pretty early, as I had received warnings of the extremely crowded parking lot.  I guess that’s what happens when three thousand-plus people turn out to show off their best Rick and Morty cosplay outfits and purchase the latest limited-edition Rick and Morty merchandise.  I spent an hour or so helping with line control before meeting friends for a pre-show bite.  After dinner, I ventured into the Drafthouse and spent time talking up several movie-going friends, before it was movietime.  Apparently several of my film-loving cohorts stuck around until the wee hours of the morning after the film, but I was pretty wiped out after a long day (and uneasy Friday night sleep), and headed home (though not before a surprising hug was delivered in the parking lot that made my night).

Today was another quiet day.  Grocery shopping (while listening to the Bears-Titans preseason game), watching the rest of the Bears game while alternately flipping to watch the Cubs blow a 3-0 lead and lose their second-of-three to the NL-worst Philadelphia Phillies.  (This was a weekend when the Cubs should have been able to put a little extra distance between themselves and the Brewers and Cardinals–but instead, they matched the Cardinals 1-2 weekend and lost a game to the Brewers, who beat the NL-best Dodgers 2-of-3.)  The rest of my day was preparing a yummy ribeye roast dinner and spending four-plus hours with my roller hockey partner-in-crime, Nick.

Nick and I didn’t necessarily solve all the roller hockey world’s ills, but we definitely got a good head start on what promises to be an exciting IHAAZ roller hockey season to come.  We found some things we needed, made a list of things we still need to find, and brainstormed some really cool ideas for the upcoming season.  Nick and I have been friends since Micah discovered the joys of playing roller hockey five and a half years ago.  Nick was Micah’s coach for both state and travel roller hockey for the relatively brief tenure of Micah’s roller hockey career.

The weekend now draws to a close.  Much as it started, I sit here quietly, composing this blog entry, and thinking.  Thinking about the week ahead, and the projects I have in front of me at work.  Thinking about what I might be doing during the holiday weekend to come.  Thinking about a couple projects I need to get done at home to prepare for other exciting possibilities later in September.  Thinking about Micah.

I suppose I will always be thinking about Micah.  His pictures, on the counter leading into my bedroom, beckoned to me all weekend.  In those quiet moments that filled my weekend, his voice was in my ear.  I need to go spend lunch with him sometime this week, tell him about what’s going on–as if he does not already know.  I need to spend time with Micah either way, and at least have him fill the silence…


The Little Things That Make You…


I returned home from my weekly grocery shopping trip today in time to catch the third inning of the Cubs game.  I know–it’s silly that a major league baseball team can bring me such happiness.  The Cubs grabbed a 3-0 lead on a base-clearing double by Albert Almora, Jr.  …and then it was 3-1.  …and then it was 3-2.  …and then up stepped former Cubs and Diamondbacks catcher Miguel Montero–and out went the lead.  He drove the ball 390 feet or so to the left-center field bleachers to tie the game at 3-3.  I watched the game until Avi and I had to leave to grab some pre-movie lunch.  Pre-movie lunch happened to be at a sports bar/restaurant, so I picked up the game there, as the Cubs brought in Justin Wilson–the man who lost his control when he moved to Chicago.  Seriously, this pitcher was the closer for the Detroit Tigers.  He only walked 16 in 50 innings.  Since joining the Cubs (including today’s game): eleven walks in six innings.  It’s gotten so bad that I begin to see shades of former Cardinals pitcher Rick Ankiel–who went from a top prospect hurler with a bright future to a full-time outfielder when his control left him seemingly overnight.  Anyhow…Wilson managed to give up two runs in the top of the tenth inning before finally escaping.  Bottom of the 10th, 5-3 Blue Jays…  Schwarber reaches on a wild pitch strikeout.  Zobrist singles to right, Schwarber to third.  Wild pitch to Rizzo scores Schwarber and moves Zobrist to second.  Rizzo grounds out–first out–Zobrist to third.  Baez strikes out, but reaches first without a throw on another wild pitch.  Baez steals second.  Heyward gets plunked by a 2-2 pitch, takes first.  Bases loaded, one out (really three, if you count the two wild pitch strikeouts) — and Alex Avila (the other half of that recent trade with Detroit) singles home the tying and winning runs!  Cubs win, 6-5 in ten innings!  Happiness.  🙂

Next, Avi and I checked out the new Ryan Reynolds-Samuel L. Jackson shoot-em-up, THE HITMAN’S BODYGUARD.  VERY funny.  Even if the plot might not be the deepest, the banter between Jackson and Reynolds alone is worth the price of admission.  No, Ryan Reynolds doesn’t come off much differently than Wade Wilson in Deadpool, and no, Samuel L. Jackson isn’t really stretching his acting talents here either.  But the movie is pure FUN (with a healthy serving of blood and guts, a high body count, and a massive donation to the studio’s swear jar) and HIGHLY recommended.  More happiness.  🙂

Happy–quickly turned to–Sad/Melancholy

As the credits rolled after the movie, I grabbed my phone to see what wonderous world events had taken place.  An email about roller hockey stuff… Video clips of the Cubs celebration at home plate… A few Facebook posts of interest…

Let me back up a little here.  Before the movie started, I noticed a Facebook post from one a hockey mom friend regarding her son.  This is not just any mom and son, but the mom of one of Micah’s closest hockey teammates.  This is the kid that called both Cynthia and I individually to ask our permission to wear Micah’s 37 in memory of his best friend and teammate.  This is the kid that gives me hugs like a family member when I see him at the rink.  This is one of the few kids that I will go to the rink specifically to see him–regardless of how painful that visit might be.  In fact, this was the kid that I went to the rink to see yesterday morning.  His name is Ozzy.  As you can imagine, he’s a very special kid.

Ozzy was a house hockey goalie when I first met him, just trying to break through from house hockey to travel.  He won a spot as a backup goalie on another team, but found that he loved playing “out” (of the net).  At the time, a lot of kids, parents and coaches scoffed at this big lumbering redhead.  But instead of giving up or going back to house hockey, Ozzy doubled his efforts.  He skated as often as he could.  He took lessons.  He learned from his coaches as well as his teammates.  Ozzy would later tell me that he learned from Micah in their random encounters.  Suddenly, Ozzy wasn’t a laughingstock any longer.  Suddenly coaches that thought he’d never amount to much of a hockey player wanted him on their teams.

Micah played two travel seasons with Ozzy as a teammate.  They became close.  That last day, in the hospital, Ozzy was there to visit Micah and say his goodbye.

Last season, Ozzy decided that he really wanted to take his game to the next level.  Instead of playing “18AA” hockey, he wanted to play on the local Junior A team, the Knights.  Again, there were the distant sounds of laughter, the voices saying that he was not good enough, not fast enough, not ready to take that jump.  Ozzy heard those voices–but once again, it motivated him to succeed where others said he couldn’t.

Last night, after the second day of the tryout camp for the Knights, Ozzy was offered a contract for the 2017-18 hockey season.

This afternoon, Ozzy’s mother posted a similar story on Facebook about Ozzy’s obstacles and his most recent success.  Before the movie started, I replied to Ozzy’s mom’s post, congratulating Ozzy on, once again, achieving his goals.

So, the movie ended, and I looked at my phone.  Waiting for me was a message from Ozzy’s mother.  I read the message — and have been barely able to control my emotions since.  I am so incredibly happy for Ozzy.  I know Micah would be–or is–also.  One of Ozzy’s goals, after getting the good news, was to somehow take Micah with him on this next leg of his journey.  He asked about continuing to wear 37 in honor of Micah.  Unfortunately, the Junior team does not handle jerseys the same way as youth hockey.  The coach pre-selected numbers for the jerseys, and 37 was not one of those selections.  Ozzy’s mother described in detail what Ozzy plans to do to carry Micah with him, even if he can’t keep the 37 on his back.  Perhaps sometime, when I get over this hump, I’ll describe what Ozzy plans to do.  Suffice it to say, it still has me in tears five hours after reading the details.

I am so happy for Ozzy.  I am so proud of everything Ozzy has accomplished, of the fine young man he continues to grow into.  Part of me is joyful, elated.  But another part of me is extremely sad–that Micah gets things like this dedicated to his memory, instead of getting to celebrate the accomplishment with his friend.

I know Micah would be incredibly happy for and proud of Ozzy.  I’m sure somewhere, he is smiling down on Ozzy right now, making plans to be there for every practice, every game, right by Ozzy’s side.  If I know my son, he’s trying to figure out how he can get Ozzy that 37 jersey to wear for opening night.  I know I am.


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