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

Random thoughts from the most random of minds…

When You Can Just Feel It

Life knows how to hand out frustration.  It’s never a simple, single slice at a time, but–hey–why not take the whole cake today?  Two weeks ago, the men’s bathroom at my office decided to perform a reenactment of the Great Flood.  Some piece–likely of the toilet that we had repeatedly asked the county to come and fix–finally completely went south, and for the following 40-45-50 minutes, we had a river of water coming from the men’s bathroom, through the hall, around the corners, under the walls…you get the idea.  My office just happens to be on the other side of that hallway wall.  About half or so of my office flooded.  (The good news is that I don’t keep files and such on the ground, nor any electronics or other things that I would be screwed if I lost.)

So, I went home a bit early that fateful Monday afternoon.  I had already arranged time off that Tuesday to take care of a couple appointments.  When I returned that Wednesday, everything looked like it was back to normal.  I was told that the powers-that-be (not my boss, but the people in charge of the cleanup) had declared everything safe and dry.  So, I sat at my desk and worked.  Same on Thursday of that week, same on Friday of that week — getting stuff done in my office.

Imagine my surprise when I returned to work the following Monday morning to a scene out of E.T.  Big white vinyl or plastic sheeting all over the back portion of the office, including a zippered closure between my office and the rest of my side of the building.  Fans and dehumidifiers running all over the place.  Loud.  In my office, all my furniture was compacted into the front half of the room, making it practically impossible to actually get behind my desk.

After spending three days telling us that everything was fine–yeah, not so much.  Project E.T. decontamination had now begun, and I was homeless, in the office sense.  Fortunately, as an appellate attorney, I can do 90 percent of my job from my home office–reading, researching and writing.  And I did…

You would think that I would be thrilled to be able to work from home for a few days.  Maybe I should have been…but with my recent emotional issues again, focusing at home has been increasingly difficult.  I can edit and revise and comment on things for other attorneys.  I can correspond via email and phone calls.  I can staff and give ideas.  I can even help with a minor research issue for my supervisor.  But I have experienced serious writer’s block of my own briefs while at home.  The E.T. hardware remained in place…through Tuesday…through Wednesday…through Thursday…through Friday…  Almost every morning, I have dutifully gotten up, gotten ready, and headed to my office–and each time, after a couple brief conversations and a little organizational groundwork, back home I would go.

Last night, I went to sleep actually excited to be heading back into my office today.  They must have finished up their little extraterrestrial dissection project, right?  I was told last week that everything is dry, everything is good (where have I heard that before?) and we were just waiting for someone to come take down the hardware and restore the hallways and my office to their original, working condition.  Two weekends plus a full week–it should all be done, right?

Wrong.

I got into work this morning to discover: no change.  The people who were supposed to come finish the cleanup job were supposed to come last Friday–never came.  They were expected to come today…and, according to a reliable source at my office, claimed that they had “already come out and cleaned up” today.  Only, you see, nothing had been cleaned up.  As of 4:45pm this afternoon, still no improvement…

As you may have picked up over these many months of reading my blog, I’m a people person.  Perhaps one of the reasons that I’ve fought back so much potential for depression (not saying I’ve been successful in fighting back all of it, of course) is that I try to keep myself busy and surround myself with others–to chat, to laugh, to tutor and teach, to discuss.  My office isn’t always the best place for that…but there are usually at least a couple people around that I can talk to for a few minutes to break the monotony.

Now, put me at home for the better part of a week–no one else here, no one around to talk to, chat with, etcetera…  Add to that my current struggles with missing Micah…  I think you can see where I’m going: a spiral path downhill.

Today, I got some work accomplished, but I also just sat and felt miserable.  Part of me wanted to just drop everything and go sit at Micah’s gravesite for an hour, just talk to my son, share things with him.  Part of me wanted to sit and try to get work done.  Part of me did not know what to do, and wanted to just stare at the wall.  I did not get to the cemetery.  I did a little work, I stared at the wall.

At least two or three times over the past week, I felt the strong temptation to take a right instead of a left off the 60, and go to the cemetery instead of my office.  I feel horrible that I have only visited Micah a couple times since his funeral.  Partially I fear that going to see him will start an uncontrollable downward spiral of depression and feelings of loss.  The left-half of my brain talks me out of it by rationalizing that everything that was Micah is not really there.  Sure, his body is lying there underneath, but everything that was really Micah is around me, above me, inside me.

Coming home from a couple errands this evening, I found myself telling Avi about something I wanted the “three of us” to do…the three of us.  Perhaps I’ve just tried so hard subconsciously to not think about the size of my family…maybe it was the thought that the last time we tried inviting a dog into our family, there were four of us plus the pooch.  I don’t like there only being three of us.  We had two children.  There are four of us.  Were four of us.  Are four of us…

Over the weekend, I thought it might help to get my mind off “things” by going to a couple Cubs games.  The Cubs were in town over the weekend playing the Diamondbacks.  Friday night wouldn’t work–we were going to see Straight No Chaser and Scott Bradlee’s Postmodern Jukebox (who, by the way, were fantastic!!  I have a new addition to my musical favorites list after watching and listening to PMJ perform!).  I would go to Saturday night and Sunday afternoon’s games.

Of course, in the emotional “place” I’ve been inhabiting over the past couple weeks, I felt pretty alone.  I knew Cynthia and Avi really did not want to go sit and watch a three-hour plus baseball game (not to mention a pair of games).  The only people I’d really attended baseball games with this year had been my brother, my buddy David back in Chicago, and a couple other high school friends.  That’s it.  Most of the people I’m friendly with right now don’t express much interest in baseball in general, and specifically Cubs baseball.  I have a couple friends that like baseball, but one is a teacher that was out of town on a retreat (and very bogged down with back-to-school stuff anyhow), and the other has his daughter’s hockey season getting started, as well as family things to do.  I don’t really have a huge circle of “hanging out” friends…Lots of acquaintances, a few people who, in a pinch, would be there for me, but not many that call to say, “Hey, let’s go do something.”

With all the friends I appear to have, all the relationships I’ve built and fostered over the past 10 years…I spend a lot of time at home with my wife and daughter.  Nothing wrong with that, but occasionally it’s nice to do things socially with other adults.  Who knows?  Maybe it’s that I don’t drink or “party.”  Maybe I’m too straight-laced.  Maybe my interests are too weird or geeky.  Or maybe, with Micah gone, and me now no longer really part of the youth hockey world, there’s just nothing in common any longer.  Please don’t think I’m looking for pity.  I’m not trying to shame anyone into calling, or even feeling bad that they don’t.  I made this bed.  It was my own decisions that got me here.  I will eventually rebuild a circle of friends, maybe some will start conversations about doing things out and about.  I think I’ve started the process with a new group of people…but it takes time.  Exploring new interests…spending time doing other things I like…maybe that will help.

Anyhow, perhaps going to the games this weekend wasn’t the best idea.  Ever been alone in a crowd?  For a while, it’s okay, but then it just kind of starts eating away at you.  Sometimes you’re sitting near people that are friendly and conversational…but this weekend, I really wasn’t during either game.  I tried to make the best of it…at least the Cubs got a big win yesterday afternoon.

Yesterday afternoon had an additional challenge.  As I walked into the ballpark, I noticed a huge group of teenagers standing near the entry gate.  It was the marching band–from Micah’s high school.  My heart sunk.  I came to try and get away from sad, get away from melancholy and enjoy my Cubs…and here I was faced with another reminder of what I lost.  I didn’t see any kids that I knew (not sure Micah was friends with many band kids) or teachers hanging around…but for a few minutes, and then a few times throughout the game, I fought back tears and considered leaving and just going home–or maybe to the cemetery.  I didn’t leave.  I stayed…but I mourned.

David

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Missing Micah

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I knew this day was coming eventually.  I blogged about it.  I pondered its meaning.  I wondered, silently and aloud, how I would deal with it.  Could I keep busy and not spend any time thinking about it?

The answer is: I have no answer.  I know I should stay away from social media right now, as everyone that Micah knew, everyone that he played hockey with and against, posts their “last first day of high school” pictures.  I watch as the posts scroll by with kids Micah played hockey against getting ready to go spend their year billeting (playing in another state, living with a host family) in a faraway city.

It’s as if Micah is reaching out to me, saying, “Do you miss me, Dad?”  Every turn over the past couple days puts me face-to-face with a picture of my son.  I spent a little time yesterday getting our movie room ready for a get-together, hanging our movie posters on the walls.  I was almost in tears putting up the DOGMA poster over the table with our family photos.  “Moving aside” pictures of Micah so I could put the poster on the wall, I had lots of time to look at those pictures.  I’ve had a few occasions in the past 48 hours to write our address: 3706 – the significance of that number never diminishes.  I grabbed a t-shirt out of my closet this morning, just randomly–and it was my “37” shirt.

I read about the Arizona Coyotes helping build a DEK hockey rink in El Mirage (in the far northwest corner of the Phoenix area) and my mind drifted…what if I could talk the Coyotes into building a DEK or roller hockey surface right near our house?  What if I could have it painted with a “37” in the crease?  What if I could have it named Micah Memorial Park?  Or am I simply asking for future emotional trouble seeing a roller hockey rink named IN MEMORY of Micah?  More questions without answers.

Have you ever wanted to do something so badly–but knew that what you wanted could never happen?  Once upon a time, I’d dream of us buying a new house…or building a state-of-the-art computer…or owning a luxury car (something over $25,000)…  But today, I just want to talk to and hold my son.  I want to take him to the rink and watch him stand on his head in the net.  I want to hear him rehearsing for a concert.  I want to hear the duet between Micah and Avi that never got the chance to happen.

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I want to see him smile.  I want to watch him act plain silly.  I want to roll back the hands of time and stop him, save him…but I can’t.  I can only replay the events of that night and following day endlessly in my head.  No matter how, no matter what angle, no matter where the memories start, the end result never changes.

Hockey season is about to start–the first hockey season since 2006 that I am not involved with any youth hockey programs.  This was largely (almost entirely) my choice.  I’ve recently read about a couple situations in Arizona youth hockey that remind me of some of the reasons I wanted to get away from youth hockey.  Politics.  Pandering.  The “Old Guard” insulating itself from those with new ideas, those that believe in accountability–even for the “Old Guard.”  Conflicts of interest.

I found myself talking to an old friend, the father of one of Micah’s long-time teammates and friends.  The conversation was initially refreshing.  It had been a while since anyone asked my opinion about a youth hockey issue.  I always kind of liked the “general manager” aspect of being a youth hockey team manager for an older group of kids.  Eventually though, the topic of goaltending came up…and the comment went from silent to heard: “I wish Micah was still here to play for us.”  I wish Micah was still here to make the choice–regardless of whether that choice would have been to play with his former teammates, or to travel out of state to billet and play, or even to completely give up the sport and focus on music and theatre–or whatever his interests require.

What will I do with all of this now?  I’ll be part of a conference call tonight for the state inline hockey Board.  I’ll shed more tears.  I’ll move forward while somehow remaining still in this place of contemplation.

David

 

DETROIT and the State of American Cinema

Something a little different in my blog today.  Today, I attended a special screening of the new Kathryn Bigelow movie, DETROIT, followed by a 45-minute question and answer session featuring Don Guillory, an Arizona State University History professor.  Before heading out to the Alamo Drafthouse for the movie, I happened across an article a friend posted about Hollywood’s growing box office troubles.  I wanted to respond, at length, to the woes of Hollywood article earlier, but had to wait until–well–now.

If you’ve recently seen any new-release movies at your local theater, you’ve noticed a few trends: 1) “reboots”, “sequels” and “prequels” galore, 2) “universes” of movies that are all somehow interrelated, 3) everything else is generally underplayed in the media and disappears quickly from the theaters.  You all know about the Marvel Cinematic Universe: Iron Man, Iron Man 2, Iron Man 3, Thor, Thor: The Dark World, Thor: Ragnarok (coming this Fall), Captain America, Captain America: Civil War, Avengers, Avengers: Age of Ultron, Avengers: Infinity War (coming next Summer), Guardians of the Galaxy, Guardians of the Galaxy: Vol. 2, Doctor Strange, Ant Man, Ant Man and the Wasp (coming sometime in 2018), Spider-Man: Homecoming, and others.  You’ve heard about the plans for the competing DC Cinematic Universe: Man of Steel, Batman vs. Superman, Justice League (coming this Fall), Wonder Woman, Wonder Woman 2 (sometime in 2019), Aquaman (sometime in 2018), The Flash (?? 2019/20?), Cyborg (?? 2019/20?), The Batman (2019?), Suicide Squad.  Now, you can add a Transformers Cinematic Universe, starting with Transformers: The Last Knight, a Universal Studios Monsterverse starting with the recent re-boot of The Mummy with Tom Cruise, a whole different monsterverse that started with King Kong: Skull Island (or did it start with the last Godzilla movie?), a Legoverse with The Lego Movie, Lego Batman, the forthcoming Lego Ninjago, and at this rate, why not a Lego Last Temptation of Christ and maybe a Lego 2001: A Space Odyssey?  (Though I do think Dr. Strangelove would work wonderfully as a Lego feature…)

Seeing a pattern here?  Add in endless sequels and spinoffs of Star Trek, Star Wars, Fast and the Furious, Shrek, Despicable Me…and then rehashes of “classics” like Baywatch, CHiPs, heck, even Murder on the Orient Express.

Are there any original ideas left?  Sure.  Hundreds, thousands, who knows?  Where are they?  Buried.  Underfunded.  Underhyped.  Why?  That’s a good question.  My personal belief, without doing any significant research, is that Hollywood studios are just looking for quick bucks.  They want to hype and pay for movies that are guaranteed box office smashes.  Marvel movies sell.  DC movies, for the most part, sell.  Big tentpole summer release action movies, whether indirectly derivative or directly so, sell.  Smaller budget, deeper plot, thought provoking movies don’t sell.

Something else that is “doing in” Hollywood: home and mobile theater.  The average DVD or Blu Ray costs $20.  Google Play, iTunes, Amazon Video, VUDU sell digital HD rentals of those same videos under $5–or digital HD copies for sometimes only $10-15.  And then there’s the Kodi phenomenon: download software on your computer, Apple TV, Roku, Android TV box, and magically download new releases for nothing (until the pirate outlets all get shut down, anyhow).  Ignoring the pirate aspect of this equation, many people simply don’t want to pay $12-13-14 per person to go see anything less than a “blockbuster” film (see the list above).  $12 x family of four + popcorn + drinks = $70-80 for a family outing to watch a two-hour movie, when $5-20 would pay for the whole thing at home.

It’s not like we’re talking the grand cinema experience that some of us over 40 got to experience when we were growing up–huge theaters that seat 400-500-600-800 people, gigantic screens, incredible sound.  The late 80s and 90s happened, the big theaters one-by-one were subdivided into smaller, 100-150-200 seat theaters.  The gigantic screens became two or three separate screens (one theater that I attended as a teenager actually split a huge screen into four screens by adding an extra ceiling/floor in and creating two upstairs and two downstairs smaller theaters in the same space).  As larger TV screens became more affordable, surround sound receivers became commonplace, and DVDs and digital media became easily accessible, those subdivided theaters started to close for lack of business.

Fast-forward to the current decade.  Some theater owners decided that perhaps the answer was to turn movie-going into a premium, luxury experience: reserved seating, leather recliners, full bars and restaurant menus, served at your seat.  I remember my first experience in one of these theaters.  It was like sitting in an office chair, watching a movie on a big computer monitor.  The movie itself was no better.  The atmosphere just changed–and the price just skyrocketed: a premium to get a ticket. popcorn at $10 instead of $6, refillable drinks–but now at $6 instead of $4, a great menu–but at restaurant prices…  Did this all make the movie more enjoyable?  No.  Did it increase the value of going out to the theater?  No.

So, for me personally, it was back to the “regular” theaters–pay a little less, get to the theater 40-45-50 minutes early to fight for the best seats.  One of our local theater chains makes it even more affordable: buy a t-shirt for $25 that gets you a free medium popcorn every time you wear the shirt to a movie (or present the puck-shaped wrapped shirt when you buy your tickets) for the year, buy a special cup for roughly the cost of a large drink, and then bring that cup back with you for $2 refills all year long.  BUT the movie-going experience was still, well, just catching blockbusters for the most part.

Enter Alamo Drafthouse last November.  At first glance, it’s the same pay a premium, get an assigned seat and wait service at your seat for food and drink.  Seats are a little more comfortable (without becoming too comfortable and having you fall asleep in them).  Sound and projection are a little better.  But there’s something more…  Is it that woman that greeted you, dressed as Willy Wonka?

When you think about movie theater employees, you generally think about concessions, ushers, ticket sales, projectionists, various levels of management.  What is a “creative manager?”  Nothing really–at most theater chains.  What’s there to be creative about?  Where you place the stand-up movie displays?  Which movie one-sheets go where?  The locations for the garbage cans?  At Alamo Drafthouse, the creative manager plans the ultimate movie experience.  Lauren, my friend and the creative manager at the Alamo Drafthouse Phoenix (Chandler) theater, picks movie themes, runs a film club for true movie buffs–and those interested in becoming such, hosts “Movie Parties” where old and new movies alike come to life.  Imagine going to see Ghostbusters, throwing marshmallows at the screen when Mr. Stay Puft is walking down the street, or singing along with David Bowie’s Goblin King Jareth as he does the Magic Dance in Labyrinth, or quoting along with Inigo Montoya as he says, “My name is Inigo Montoya.  You killed my father.  Prepare to die.”  Imagine going to see a screening of Predator with local cosplayers wandering around dressed as Predators.  IMAGINE.  That’s the key word.  Props.  Quotes.  Trivia.  Enjoying your favorite movies in a whole new way–or even movies you’ve never seen before in ways you will not soon forget.

It’s not just fun parties either.  Theme nights.  Classic movies you’ve heard about but never had a chance to see on the big screen.  I got to see Seven Samurai on the big screen.  I get to enjoy “art house” films where I can participate in question and answer sessions with the director.  Without a theater like Alamo, I don’t see NEON’s films COLOSSAL and INGRID GOES WEST–two well-written, well-acted films that provoke thoughtful discussion–and introspection.  At Alamo, I get to go see topical, timely movies like LOVING, and then be part of an open discussion of how that Supreme Court decision continues to change our world.  This afternoon, I got to be part of an unforgettable screening of DETROIT with people that lived through those horrific events of 50 years ago, with the director of the local branch of the NAACP in attendance, with ASU professors that study and teach about those events, with a diverse audience of people from different walks of life–all there to not only watch a movie, but to hold a dialogue about what that movie really means.

DETROIT was more than a movie about a riot, or police brutality, or racism, or about an event that occurred in Detroit, Michigan in 1967.  DETROIT is a lens through which to view the world today.  We are not that far removed from the way our country looked in 1967.  Sure, thanks to the SCOTUS Loving case, my wife and I can be married and together legally in all 50 states.  But when you really think about it, what has changed in race relations, in the way minorities are treated by figures of authority, in the last 50 years?  Yes.  We had a black President.  We had a black President that had to face an entire political party publicly stating that they would do everything in their power to block him from doing anything on his agenda.  We had a black President that had to endure hatred like no other President before him–just because of the color of his skin.  This is not a point up for debate.  If you lived through the eight years he was in office and did not hear him referred to in racist terms, I envy your high ivory tower and your blissful ignorance.

Many interesting ideas and viewpoints were shared after the movie.  The discussion, scheduled for 30 minutes, went on for far longer–and could have likely carried on into the wee hours of the morning.  A few people shared this fascinating view about the world in 1967: while there were no legal barriers to black people living in the suburbs of the big industrial cities in the North (and Midwest), there were still expectations and a certain acceptance of the way “things should be.”  Cities and neighborhoods that black families knew they were not welcome in, where violence and scorn often awaited them if they dared to depart from the “societal norm.”   Is this really any different than today?

I really wonder about this.  Micah reached the age where he began to experience racism.  Cynthia and I never got the chance to have “the talk” with Micah, although we certainly hinted at our concerns for our clearly black (biracial) son in his dealings with authority figures.  Micah, like Dismukes (portrayed by John Boyega) in the movie, preferred to deal with racism in quieter, more subtle ways.  When he would tell me about incidents in the hockey locker room or on the ice, he would do so only after begging me not to “make a big deal” out of them.

Cynthia and I were pulling out of our garage a couple weeks ago, and were approached by a black man and his wife who had been driving through our subdivision.  The subdivision is very new (less than two years old), and in an area with a reputation of being heavily white.  When this gentleman and his wife saw Cynthia, they asked if we would be willing to answer a few questions about our experience in the area.  Their chief concern: how would a black family be treated here?  No, there are no laws forbidding them from buying a house in our subdivision, but they had concerns about what life might be like, being black, in what was typically known as a very white neighborhood.  1967?  2017?  I suppose the best thing I can say is that we told them we had no reason to believe they’d be anything less than accepted with open arms.

I don’t know if that young black family bought a house in our subdivision.  I do know that a few days later I noticed a couple trucks in the neighborhood with Confederate flags and other symbols that I associate with those that tend to hold insensitive at best, racist at worst, beliefs.  We have not experienced anything bad ourselves–but seeing those vehicles just served as a reminder that we still have a long way to go.

David

PS: Check out the Alamo Drafthouse, if there’s one in your area.  You’ll be glad you did.

A busy day keeps the blues away…

A busy, busy weekend is drawing to a close.  So much happening, so many developments in so many areas–it has been just busy enough to keep my mind off more sobering thoughts.  As the weekend slows down, preparing to transition into the new work week, the sobering thoughts intrude…

For the first time in over two years, I built a brand new desktop computer.  Cynthia wanted to be able to have her own separate desktop computer to work on her classroom and AVID activities.  While we both have laptops, it’s so much easier to work one large and/or multiple monitors when you multitask.  So, Thursday evening and part of Friday, I finally sat down and pieced together the new computer (AMD Ryzen 7 1700 CPU, 16gb DDR4 RAM, a new very fast M.2 boot drive, and an extra 3tb hard drive for media storage — for those interested in such details).  It had been just long enough that I forgot the minor aggravations of building a computer from scratch.  The tinkering…the having to route wires around things–and maneuver things into the case around the wires.  Plugging it all in, thinking it works–and then discovering that one little thing you didn’t notice as you built the computer (in my case, the memory wasn’t completed “seated” in its socket).

With the computers squared away, I decided to put the necessary paperwork together to take a shot at a unique opportunity.  It’s amazing how time-consuming that can be–and I only finished about 60 percent of the task.  I’m not going to say a lot about the opportunity yet…I want things to progress a little further before making the details public.  Suffice it to say, it will be another major change in my life–one mainly for the better.

This was a weekend, right?  Therefore movies must have played a role somewhere…  Yesterday it was a “date afternoon” as Cynthia and I watched ATOMIC BLONDE.  Fun film–lots of action, good music, and solid acting–even if the plot was generally a bit light.  The music was good enough that we decided to order the two LP soundtrack set from MondoTees.com — kind of a collector’s set.  Second movie–another fabulous Alamo Drafthouse Chandler Movie Party: LABYRINTH!  One of our all-time favorite 80s movies (1986 to be precise) with all the crucial elements: Jim Henson’s Creature Shop, David Bowie music, a solid performance by a young, pre-award winning Jennifer Connelly.  Always fun to go watch a movie in a great, festive atmosphere.  If you’ve never attended a movie party, and are fortunate enough to live in an area with an Alamo Drafthouse, I highly suggest you check the place out.  They turn movies into must-see events (and the food is fantastic!).

I decided more than a year ago that my next car would be an EV (electric vehicle).  I’ll do my little part to save the planet and conserve fossil fuels, and avoid the pump.  I love the look and feel of the Tesla Model S, but the $80,000 price of admission (not to mention the $110,000 entry barrier for the Model X SUV) is way more than my budget can handle.  Just thinking about a car, even financed over 72 months with zero percent interest (assuming such a deal is available), that would require payments over $1000/month…it make me dizzy.  Back in March, 2016, Elon Musk (Tesla owner/CEO) announced the Model 3, an “affordable” EV with the most important parts of the Tesla line of cars intact.  The bottom line of the new Model 3: $35,000 (to start).  I jumped on the bandwagon just a few short weeks after the car was announced, putting down a refundable deposit and getting my place in line.  However, about eight months in, I decided my deposit money could be better used elsewhere as we prepared to buy our house.  I cancelled my deposit and started focusing on a more easily-attainable EV: the new Chevrolet Bolt.  Right around that same $35,000 mark, but supposedly a little roomier and definitely available before the end of 2017 without getting on a waiting list.

Fast-forward to the last couple months, as I’ve begun considering the real pros and cons of the Tesla Model 3 versus the Chevy Bolt.  Charging?  Faster and more generally reliable for Tesla.  Cost?  Due to how the EV federal tax credit works, buying a Bolt in December would almost definitely qualify me for a $7500 federal tax credit.  So, even the $43,000 Premier model of the Bolt would actually only be a hair over $35,000.  The base Bolt would only be around $29,000 after the tax credit.  With over 400,000 reservations already in place for the Tesla Model 3, it’s extremely unlikely that I’ll ever see the $7500.  Depending on how quickly they ramp up production, I MIGHT be able to see the reduced $3750 tax credit…or at least the twice-reduced $1875 tax credit.  Most likely, a $35,000 Tesla 3 would still cost me between $31-33,000.

What about range?  If you do any research on EVs, you read and hear a lot about “Range Anxiety,” the fear that your battery will run out while you’re in the middle of a drive.  If you’ve followed my blog, you know that I have a unique range need for my car, more than the average commuter (putting aside my tendency to take the occasional short road trip to Vegas, San Diego or Los Angeles).  While my work commute is a pretty consistent 20 miles per day, easily covered by even today’s smallest-range EVs, my side gig with the Tucson Roadrunners requires something a little meatier.  From home to my office to the Tucson Convention Center back to my home is approximately 215 miles.  Round-trip from home to Tucson is right around 200 miles.  The Bolt is rated at 238 miles on a full charge.  The originally announced range of the Tesla 3 was 215 miles.  No problem, right?  I should be able to make all my trips on a full-charged Tesla or Bolt.  Here’s the problem: EV mileage range ratings are very subjective.  Can you get 238 miles on a fully-charged Bolt battery?  Sure–if you drive the car under optimal conditions: no AC or heat, very little extra battery use for things like music, GPS, charging devices, driving between 40-55mph with frequent enough slowing down and stopping to benefit from regenerative breaking technologies.  I have seen reviews where people have been able to get up to 250-260 miles from a fully charged Bolt.  However, those drivers aren’t dealing with the extreme temperatures in Arizona that make avoiding AC use pretty impossible from March through October.  They don’t often push their vehicle beyond 55-60mph.  The drive on relatively flat terrain with the occasional hill (at least when they’re driving in ways that maximize their batteries).  On my regular commute days, no problem.  I could probably drive a full week without even plugging in to recharge at home.  BUT, on those Roadrunner game days, I drive anywhere between 130-175 miles on I-10, where 110-125 miles (round-trip) of that journey are at a 75mph speed limit.  “Just slow down then,” people say.  It’s not a bad idea–until you consider that it’s not particularly safe to be going 55-60 in a 75 zone, and the speed difference would add precious time to my trip that, on weekdays, I simply don’t have.  At 75-80mph on those stretches, it typically takes me 80-90 minutes each way.  For a 7pm game, I need to be at the arena around 4:45–so right now I can leave Mesa around 3:15-3:20pm.  On the way home, if I’m out of the arena at 9:45pm, I’m home by a somewhat reasonable time of 11:15.  Now, factor in that extra time if I’m going 20mph slower to maximize battery: 110-120 minutes.  To get to Tucson by 4:45, I’d have to leave before 3.  Leaving Tucson at 9:45. I would now get home closer to 11:45.  AND, even only going 60mph, it would still put more stress on my battery than 50mph (not to mention the impact of using the AC in October, likely November, late February, March and April).

On Friday night, Tesla officially unveiled the first production Model 3s.  The standard battery model gets 220 miles of range (see above), but for $9,000 more, I can get a beefier battery that gets 310 miles of range.  310 miles–that means, even if my driving conditions reduce the battery range by 25 percent, I would still get 230-plus miles out of the fully-charged battery.  If I do need a little extra charge?  No messing with questionable third-party chargers midway in between Tucson and Phoenix — there is a bank of Tesla-only Superchargers in Casa Grande (about 45 miles short of getting home) where I could get an additional 170 miles of range with a 30-minute charge (so, even plugging in for 10-15 minutes would get me enough juice to easily get home).  Heck, with that battery and the established Supercharger stations available, I could even take relatively range-anxiety-free trips to LA or San Diego–and I think even Las Vegas.  This all comes at a price–the first available model of the Tesla 3 with the extended battery will run $49,000 (it includes the larger battery as well as a host of other premium features, including a color choice other than black–deep blue metallic is my personal favorite, kind of in-between TARDIS and Cubs blue).

Once I got done reading the reviews/previews from people that got to test drive the actual production Tesla 3s on Friday night and reviewed my budget…I decided to throw down another deposit and get back in line for a Tesla 3.  No, I won’t get it until late 2018 at the earliest (possibly early 2019).  But in the meantime, I will completely pay off my current car and have enough money saved up to pay off a third of the cost of the car in cash up front–without even considering possible trade-in value of my current car (if I decide to trade it in instead of just holding it for a year or so until Avi turns 16).  The new house was built with a Tesla-compatible charging outlet in the garage–so the in-home installation costs will be very minimal.  So now, with money down again, I just have to wait…  Good things come to those who wait, right?

In other weekend news: the Cubs took 2-of-3 from the now-second-place Brewers and now hold a 2.5 game lead in the standings, the Roadrunners announced the signings of four players (actually, that was late last week, but still…), we have now lived in the new house for over a month–and are still really enjoying our time here, and I discovered that the problem in our TV loft was not a bad receiver or a fluky Xbox One S, but bad or outdated HDMI cables run in the wall (the installers will be back sometime this week to replace those cables).

It’s now just about bedtime on Sunday.  I’ve spent some time today looking through my Facebook feed.  I’m seeing a trend that may lead to a rough week–lots of Micah’s friends (and parents) talking about college visits.  If Micah was still here, he would be 17, starting his senior year of high school.  We would be talking about visiting a few schools, filling out college applications, thinking about a major, and the finer points of soon living on his own–or at least somewhat on his own in a college dorm.  We would be talking about how he would balance theatre, music and hockey during this busy senior year.  We would just be talking…instead of me holding one-way conversations into the ether.

Thinking about hockey…  As the calendar turns from July to August, kids and parents alike prepare for the new hockey season.  I’ve already seen posts about team kick-off parties, tournament scheduling, final preseason clinics and practices, and organizational details.  I just got an email tonight from the local hockey officiating organization talking about up-for-grabs board positions.

Truth is, I have visited the local rink four total times since early April: a half-hour meeting to answer questions about the job of equipment manager for my replacement (who, by the way, is doing an awesome job from what I’ve heard) in mid-April, a ten-minute visit in late June to donate some of Micah’s old gear to the house program, an hour or so to say hello and watch a friend’s kid play in a summer house league game in mid-July, and a couple hours at the rink last weekend to announce a charity hockey game.  To the outsider, this sounds like more than enough time at the rink during the off-season.  To me, this is practically hockey abandonment.  I can think of few times over the past ten years–even last summer, the summer after Micah died–when I was away from the rink for almost two solid months.  Now, in 2017, this will likely become the norm.

Gone is my goalie son.  Gone with him are the clinics, camps, early season practices, regular season practices, games, tournaments, and everything else that was part of the hockey parent experience.

Gone is my involvement with the Arizona Youth Hockey League.  After five years running or helping run the state’s travel hockey program, spending hundreds of hours organizing, meeting, arranging, scheduling and just being there for Arizona’s hockey kids, it was time to step away.  (Feel free to scan back through my blog posts to about February-March, 2017, for all the gritty details.)  Gone are the meetings.  Gone is the scheduling.  Gone are the debates, arguments, and agreements in the name of growing the fantastic game of youth hockey.

Gone is my involvement with the local youth hockey organization.  I tried last season to continue being a team manager–on a team where I had no child on the ice.  I found it difficult to focus on my duties for a team where I did not have a direct connection, outside the friendships I had formed with some of the parents and coaches.  I found the constant reminders that my son was NOT on the ice to be increasingly painful.  My love for helping organize things was rapidly dying.  My only incentive had become a small stipend for my efforts.  The amount of stipend was not the problem–the fact that it was the only reason I was taking myself to the rink was.  I had to step away before the youth hockey pilot light went out for good.  Gone is working on tournament schedules for the organization’s three annual tournaments.  Gone are the organizational meetings to help get things done, get jerseys and other gear sorted and distributed, get late-add kids sized and their gear ordered.

Gone is the majority of my hockey scorekeeping.  This is actually the culmination of a gradual process over the past two years.  I initially got into scorekeeping as a way to stay productive around the rink when Micah played.  I cultivated the position as a way to help pay Micah’s hockey expenses.  I became pretty good at it…and then Micah started wanting to see more of me in the stands and less of me in the scorer’s box…and then Micah died.  There was no real reason to work games to help pay for his hockey–there were no more hockey fees, no more travel expenses, no more clinics and camps to pay for.  I continued working games because, on a limited basis, it was fun to do so.  I enjoyed seeing the smiles on the faces of the kids and their parents when I announced their names.  I loved watching the crowds rocking back and forth and singing along with my musical interludes.  I enjoyed announcing in general (still do).  It’s that love, that enjoyment, that has kept me scorekeeping in some capacity to this day, but gone are the days of scorekeeping hours on end, or multiple days of the week.  Gone are the 10pm Adult League games on weeknights.  Gone is the little check mark on the scheduling website that says, “Ready to be scheduled.”  Now, I will scorekeep and announce a few select games as my schedule allows.  I will announce a good number of Phoenix Knights Junior A games.  I will announce a few home games for a couple teams that contain many of Micah’s old friends and hockey teammates.  I might even pop up at a tournament or two to work a few championship Sunday/Monday games…but there will be weeks, sometimes multiple weeks, where I will not darken a rink’s doorstep…

As many of Micah’s old friends and teammates themselves move on to bigger and bolder experiences, signing to play hockey in other states with Tier I teams, I think about another step that Micah will never take.  Maybe Micah would have moved on to Colorado, or Washington, or California, or Utah, or Illinois, or Minnesota to play hockey.  Honestly though, I doubt it.  Micah never liked the idea of leaving home.  We talked about it a bit in the months leading up to his death.  He was starting to really make friends, had a girlfriend, was comfortable with his choir program… He had lots of reasons why he just wanted to stay in Arizona, stay at home with us.

Micah would have always been welcome to stay home.  We told him time and time again that he was only playing hockey because HE wanted to.  We were never going to be those parents that pushed him to do something he really did not want to do.  We just asked that if he planned to stop playing hockey, he at least did something to continue to be physically active–that was it, our only condition.  So maybe Micah wouldn’t even be playing hockey at this point.  We would have still loved him the same and been just as supportive in anything he wanted to do instead.  It’s hard for me to personally believe that he could have just walked away from the sport that he so loved playing, but that would have been his ultimate choice.

Now, I sit in the quiet home that Micah will never see, will never sleep in, will never experience.  His number is on our doorpost.  His music and goaltending highlights fill my new computer’s hard drives.  But his hockey is gone…and the realization that my time at the rink without him needs to go now as well.

It’s going to be a tough week.

David

Coping

As I probably laid out pretty well last night, the past few weeks have been exceptionally difficult emotionally.  Naturally, no sooner did I put those words on digital paper than I had a horrible night’s sleep, followed by an early morning breakdown.

Much as I like social media for entertainment value (and occasionally to get other messages out there), Facebook’s “Memories” feature has been an incredible source of pain.  I’m not sure pain is the right word.  Angst?  Catharsis?  Some memories are a blessing–face it, all memories of Micah (except perhaps for that fateful 27-hour period) are a blessing.  Every time I see a picture of Micah smiling, of time we spent together as a family, of Micah being silly or focused or engaged or–whatever, I remember the good things about my son.

Unfortunately, with those good memories comes the realization that those are just memories.  They aren’t old memories that are going to be supplemented by new memories–just old memories that will have to stand on their own.  With that realization comes tears.  With that realization comes sorrow–sadness that I won’t see Micah playing hockey again.  Sadness that I won’t hear him singing alone or with a choir.  Sadness that our Xbox is no longer his door to the virtual universe, but another reminder of the past.  Sadness that I won’t get home tonight from work to find Micah and his girlfriend sitting on the sofa watching anime, giggling and just enjoying each other’s company.  Sadness that a few months from now, I will be watching Facebook fill with high school graduation pictures of Micah’s friends and teammates, but not posting pictures of Micah in his cap and gown.

Sadness because of what I won’t ever get to see Micah do and achieve is not a new theme.  However, what I’ve rarely talked about is trying to tuck that sadness deep inside and get on with my daily life…

See, as wonderful as my bosses have been about letting me work around my issues, I can’t simply not go to work every time I feel sad…or lost.  On days like today, I wipe off the tears, swallow hard, and hop in my car to head to work.  I have cases, I have clients, I have work that needs to be done.  As wonderful as it is sometimes to sit in my home office and read or research, with all the emotional connections between our recent move and Micah, it’s easier to just go in to my office and try to focus there.

Sometimes I can focus on the work at hand, trying to bury myself in writing or reading or researching the latest topic.  A visit here or there from an attorney needing my help and advice can really help move me away from sorrow and towards focus on legal issues that can help our clients.  On some days, I get a few of those visits.  On other days–sometimes several in a row–my office and the hallway outside are a ghost town.  No one with questions stopping by…or calling…or emailing.

Today, I had purpose in the morning.  I got to answer a couple questions from a couple attorneys.  I was asked to proofread a colleague’s brief.  And then, as suddenly as the work came, it vanished.  The tumbleweeds started rolling down the hallway.  My focus faded…and it became much more difficult to get anything done.  Finally, I decided to distract myself by writing this entry in my blog…

It is now time for release.  I will pack up my things and head home.  I think tonight will be a stir-fry night.  And then maybe I’ll start re-watching Caprica…

David

Every reason to be happy, but sadness prevails.

A new house.  Relatively healthy.  Loving, supportive wife and daughter.  Tech toys a plenty.  Mood is still glum.

The more I think about the house and its contents, the more guilty I feel that I am not sharing this bounty with Micah.  Setting up the media room, I found myself sitting and staring at the Xbox avatar on the screen: the Xbox avatar of Micah wearing some kind of Call of Duty battle helmet.  I started to shake.  I began to think about Caprica–the single-season Battlestar Galactica prequel series.

For those unfamiliar, Battlestar Galactica was–at its core–the battle of human versus Cylon.  The Cylons (in the 2003 Battlestar Galactica reboot) were AI machines created by man as servants that evolved and became self-aware.  In the Caprica prequel, the story jumped back to the creation of the first Cylon.  In the show’s pilot episode, Daniel Graystone (played by Eric Stoltz), the eventual creator of the first Cylon, loses his teenage daughter in a terrorist attack.  As the show unfolds, Graystone discovers that a copy of almost everything that was his daughter is stored in a popular virtual reality world simulator, and he wants to do anything he can to bring that digital version of his daughter back into the real world.  (I think that’s about as spoiler-free as I can describe Caprica…)

As much as Micah played his Xbox, as much time as Micah spent in our modern day virtual worlds, I find myself wondering–what if…what if there’s still an imprint of Micah out there in a server (or servers) somewhere.  It would certainly be incomplete, but what I wouldn’t give to spend time with whatever of Micah might still be out there.  In this, in retrospect, I can understand the motivations of Daniel Graystone to want to recreate his daughter Zoe from her digital imprint.

Now, I know–this is all science fiction and fantasy.  While we definitely leave a digital imprint on the cyber world around us–Facebook, Twitter, just random cookies, preferences, choices that we make every time we use our smartphones or our computers online, that data can only form a very limited picture of who we really are.  Even Micah’s gameplay on virtual world simulators like Call of Duty or Minecraft or Skyrim would not leave enough of a trace of his personality to recreate my son.  Still, it leads to deep, philosophical thinking…  Wouldn’t it be something to be able to recreate Micah–even a small piece of him–as my Google Assistant or Siri?  Would I really want that?  Would it only lead to the desire to have more interaction with him?

I really need to watch Caprica again…

So, there’s Micah–or the digital avatar he created of himself.  It’s eerie just how much the avatar looks like Micah.  I know it’s not him.  I know it’s just a piece of artwork that Micah created.  But still, my heart feels Micah’s presence.  I can’t delete the avatar.  I can’t revise the avatar.  Even though I am essentially reclaiming the Xbox gamer tag from my son, it will always be Micah.

Sunday morning, my daughter asked us to go swimming with her–at 7am.  As we finished our 40 minutes of pool fun that morning and were drying off for the walk back to the house from the community pool, I noticed a single bird fly onto a nearby ledge.  I could not get past the thought that it was Micah visiting us.

I guess I’m just in another one of those “places” where Micah is never far from my mind, and his loss is never far from my heart…

David

 

Opportunity from Confusion

The whirlwind has engulfed every part of my being: physical, intellectual, emotional.  It has continued spinning for the past five weeks: preparing to move, moving, unpacking, settling… work, friends, family…  Frustration, elation, confusion.

And then, a glimpse of opportunity…

Vacation has ended.  It had its highlights: seeing Hamilton for the first time, paying another visit to Wrigley Field, spending a little quality time with my brother and a good friend.  It had its frustrations: the Cubs playing like they’re still in a sleepwalking haze after the postseason party from last November, a rough time for my family in Chicago, not eating the right things and paying a price.  Whatever it was, it is now over.  I do not have my next vacation day planned until mid-September, when Pete (and Elliot) and I meet up for a few relaxing days: the Second Annual Pete and David Meet Up in Vegas trip, with mutual friend Elliot joining us this go-round.

We actually left Chicago two days earlier than planned, which was okay–it just simply what we needed to do.  Being the kind of guy I am, I woke up the next morning and–immediately checked my work email.  I found a new motion on my big PitA case that felt like I urgently needed to respond to it.  No, I was not due to return to work for another three days, but into my office I went for a couple hours to lay the groundwork for my response brief.  After a stressful weekend of worrying about the brief, I returned to work and spent a solid day crafting the response, planning to file it yesterday morning.  Aaaand then, as I’m scrambling to get it filed, the Court of Appeals publishes its decision on related matters–in the process killing the brief I had stressed over filing.

Now, this wasn’t all bad.  The thing I was asking the Court to not order, well, it did not order anyhow.  Unfortunately, my client lost overall.  But, to finish off the not-that-bad sandwich, this closes the appellate book on this client for now, so I can return to addressing the other files in my caseload.  As I explained to my daughter, this is the Murphy’s Law of Lawyering: the harder you work, the more you stress about a case, the more likely the case is to get resolved before you have to actually throw down and fight.

Before I left on vacation, an old friend had reached out and asked if I would like to meet her for lunch.  We worked together a number of years ago, and we were always friendly, so of course I accepted.  Due to the last volley of work in the PitA case, I had to postpone our lunch to allow myself time to complete a different brief prior to leaving on my vacation.  I took a raincheck and we rescheduled lunch for this week.

As we rescheduled our lunch, my friend shared an interesting opportunity with me.  We discussed this a bit more at lunch, and I’m excited about where it could lead.  In a way, this could be one of those “coming full circle” moments, where I realize an old, packed-away dream.  I’m trying to not get too excited about the possibility, as it is just that: a possibility.  No promises.  No definite offer.  No contracts signed.  Just a door being nudged open…  More details about this if something comes of it (well, or if it’s foreclosed without anything happening).

Meanwhile, the struggle goes on.  It seems the more stressed I get, the more likely my brain is to conjure up images of Micah, the more frequently every number ends in 37, the more dour my mood becomes.

This past weekend, I decided that I still wanted to do something with local hockey (aside from my announcing gig with the Tucson Roadrunners).  I reached out to the Knights and let them know that I was interested in still scorekeeping/announcing about half of their homestands for the coming season.  It will be nice to be back around the rink a bit–and heading into the purchase of my new car this winter, the money won’t hurt either.

I also decided that I wanted to go watch a couple friends’ kids play hockey on Sunday afternoon.  It was nice for a while.  I got to catch up on what was happening around the rink, talk to a couple people I hadn’t spoken to in a while…but then the curtain fell–right on my heart.

You would think that, as time goes by, I would become more able to watch kids that Micah knew playing hockey on the ice.  In year two, it has actually become harder.  I drove by Micah’s high school last night and thought about the mornings when I would drop him off in front because he missed his bus.  I thought about watching him sing in the auditorium.  I thought about how there was no reason to enter the building any longer.

The second year is definitely harder than the first.

Last year, I grabbed the opportunity to become the Roadrunners PA announcer.  I grabbed the opportunity to buy the beautiful house that we now (finally!) live in.  I grabbed the opportunity to expand my social circle by becoming a regular at the Alamo Drafthouse and a member of its Film Club.  Those things, and my supportive family and friends helped me through.  Maybe this year it will be this new opportunity that helps me advance to the next level.

David

The Move and the Missing

It has been far too long since I got my thoughts out in digital ink.  This is the craziness that lays siege to your life when you are getting ready for, do, and then recover from moving.

As I sit here tonight, in my 90-percent-finished home office, the process is almost done (as the 90-percent might indicate).  Just a couple touches remain in the office, a few new items for the media room, and a professional to come and install some of those common components.  Here–take a peek at the main office wall…

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The hardest part of this wall to put together was the collage on the right-hand side.

One of the reasons we decided we needed to move was to get a fresh start away from the nightmare memories that haunted the old house.  As I told the rep from our property management company on the final walkthrough, when she commented on how it looked like no one had even been in “that” room for a long time, Micah’s room has basically been free of human interaction for almost 18 months.  A couple nights, for the sake of family staying over, Avi stayed in her brother’s room.  On a handful of occasions, one or more of us would go into the room and sit on the futon, just staring at the wall and communing with Micah.  But that was really it.  No one that knows us–that knew Micah–ever wanted to spend the night in that room.  Too many memories, good and bad…too much Micah for anyone that knew him to deal with.

Things have been so busy, so hectic over the past three weeks, that I never took–never really had–the time to deal with the emotions that surrounded what kept me so busy.  This is the House that Micah Built, but this is the house that Micah will never sleep in.  This is the house that bears his number on its address plate, but this will never be the house that Micah grabs his gear from to go play hockey.  This is the house that I purposely equipped for listening to music, but this is the house that will never hear Micah’s tenor voice practicing for a concert or an audition.

Have you ever felt like you wanted to scream yourself hoarse, but could not make a sound?  Have you ever felt sadness that made you want to drown in your own tears, but could not utter a single cry?  That’s how I have felt with regularity over the past three weeks.  We have a beautiful new house with so many of the things we always wanted, but cannot share any of it with our son.  On my wall, I have a collage of pictures of my family–all four members of my immediate family…  I sit and stare at the pictures.  I cannot believe they are what I have left of my son.

We will push onward.  We will endure.  We will celebrate everything that Micah was–as we try to not dwell on everything he could have become.

I know these feelings are going to overwhelm me at some point soon.  Three weeks of packing… Three days of painting the new office… A solid week of moving — one evening getting mattresses and electronics over, one day of moving the big stuff (with the help of movers), and one very long evening of getting things that were left behind… Three solid days of clean-up at the old house… Three days of unpacking boxes and trying to get things organized… All now behind us, behind me.  As the haze lifts, I’m afraid I know what reality I will see.

The moving process was an eye-opener.  Yes, we’ve moved before–but this seemed so different.  With Cynthia being gone for the week leading up to the move and the week immediately following the big moving day, I often found myself alone with Avi, with a number of adult tasks needing to be completed.

The harder I worked, the more my out-of-shape body showed its age.  First it was the pain in my left knee as I climbed a ladder–but I kept climbing.  Next, it was a stiff neck every morning, but I kept an eye on my surroundings.  The stiff neck became a very sore right shoulder.  Throughout all of this, I pressed on.  I suppose this was in part because I don’t like to give up on things I start, but in larger part–I felt I had no choice.  Cynthia was not here.  As thankful as I was to the friends like Robert, Scott, Johnny, Roxanne, Todd, Claire and Linda for their help throughout the week, I did not want to abuse their offers of help.  They gave what time they could, and what energy they had to spare–but when their energy was spent, I again felt alone.  I had a couple other offers of help, but it came at times when I could not voice what help I needed.

It’s still weird going from a situation where so many people were around me, offering to help whenever I needed it, enjoying the fruits of the help that I provided them–to relative silence.  Maybe I did not make the call for help loud enough, or did not shout those calls in the right directions.  Or maybe this is just what my personal transition is really going to be like…

It’s time for a vacation.  Hopefully the weather and the Cubs will cooperate to make it a relaxing week…

I want to keep writing, but right now, the heavy eyelids are using their veto…

Until sometime this week,

David

Father’s Day

What might be the hardest week of my year begins tomorrow.

This isn’t to say that the last couple weeks have been a piece of cake, walk in the park, or whatever other clichéd phrase might fit best.

For the past two weeks at work, I have been tangling with an especially messy case involving a client in Mexico fighting to be reunited with a son taken into the United States by his ex in 2013–and vanished until my client got word that his son was in DCS (Department of Child Safety) custody in Arizona.  DCS was anxious for a happy reunion, right?  Yeah–not really.  Seems that DCS prefers the idea of the kid remaining here in the US with his foster parents (who they openly refer to as the “adoptive placement”) forever more.  Lots of mud slung at my client without actual evidence…and, what do you know, when the court set a hearing for DCS to put up or shut up, they turned up mostly empty-handed, full of theories and beliefs and supposition instead.  Court dismissed the case.  DCS got on the hotline to the court of appeals, and–voila!  We now have a stay of the dismissal of the case and a pending petition for a special action before the appellate court.  In two weeks, I’ve had an oral argument on the issue of the stay, drafted a motion to strike the petition, drafted a motion to withdraw the motion to strike after a couple things changed in the case, and this past week–oi.  This past week, I spent the majority of my time drafting a 40-plus page response to the special action.  Am I done?  Not likely…probably more to come on this case.  And–oh yeah–I still have a number of other cases that need my attention that had to be pushed into the background while I worked on the response.

But wait, there’s more!  This coming week is our statewide public defender conference, Wednesday through Friday.  It’s supposed to be a nice, comfortable, breezy 112-121 this week in the Phoenix area.  Yes, you read that correctly: 112-121, one hundred twenty-one degrees is predicted for Tuesday or Wednesday’s high.  And then…

Our fourteen month odyssey is almost complete.  In April, 2016, we signed the contract to build our new house.  They finally broke ground in August, 2016, and laid the foundation in October, 2016.  As of this past week, we finally signed all our loan documents and paid our remaining deposit and fees.  Wednesday is the big day — the day we get our keys and take “delivery” of the house.  Yay!  What this really means is Wednesday night I repaint the office/man-cave in Chicago Cubs colors.  Thursday afternoon we take delivery of new furniture, appliances and have our internet installed.  Thursday night I hope to get our electronics moved over to the new house, along with the mattresses and perhaps my daughter’s bed frame and my office computer desk.  Friday we’ll have another vendor in doing some installation.  Aaaaand then, Saturday–the big move, movers and a truck and everything.  Saturday is when we move all the big stuff, all the medium stuff, and whatever remains of the small stuff.  By the time we go to sleep Saturday night, all our possessions will be in the new house.

This is all fantastic, but there’s a cloud to our silver lining.  Well, there are a few clouds, but one that will have the most impact on me this week: my wife will be in Dallas all week conducting a training seminar for teachers.  So, all these wonderful things happening this week, come down to myself and my 13-year old daughter.

Now, this isn’t to say that we’re getting no help.  I’ll start by thanking Claire and Linda and Roxanne for all the help they’ve already provided us in making sure the house is packed up before my wife gets on her flight to Dallas on Monday morning.  Without those three, we would be completely lost right now.  I believe all three of our fantastic friends will be back on Saturday to help with the big move–as will my wife, and my brother, flying in from Chicago just to help us move.

A few weeks ago, I sent out the call for help–just looking for a few friends to help shuttle electronics, a couple mattresses, and the two small furniture items to the new house on Thursday evening.  Times like these are when you learn things about people.  I have one confirmed YES for Thursday.  I have one that said he would help, but have not heard from him in a couple weeks.  I have one friend whose wife said that he would be here to help.  I have one that has family in town and is pretty tied up, but offered to help with unpacking or other assorted things after his family departs.  To sum this up, I’m nervous.  Hopefully I get the help I need for Thursday so this doesn’t become a six trip back-and-forth operation.  It would be so nice to only have the boxes, kitchen table, washing machine, bookshelves and dressers left to move on Saturday…

Where does all this leave me?  Tomorrow.  Father’s Day.

My grandfathers: Gentle, loving souls, both passed on.  Max, my father’s father, died in 1995.  Morrie, my mother’s father, died in 1983.

My father died in 2006, just a couple months past his 60th birthday.  Always happy, jovial, despite the issues he battled.  I was just happy that he got to meet both Micah and Avi before he passed away.  I miss my father’s laugh, his smile, the smell of markers from his doodles and his Name-Toons.  I miss those long days when I “hung out” with my father as he made his custom artwork for guests and passers-by at the Ramada O’Hare, or the Marriott O’Hare, or a mall art fair, or his time at the resorts in upstate New York back in the early 90s.  I miss nonsensical discussions about pickles, and the creative way my father had with words–particularly silly words that he made up himself.  I miss the stories about his time in Israel, and the endless slides he would show us from those days before I was born.  I miss hearing about his political views, about the time he met President Gerald Ford and made him a Name-Toon.  I miss all his dreams and ambitions.  I miss the grandparent bonding time he never got to have with Micah and Avi.  I even miss that fateful day on Route 176 after a visit to the Volo Auto Museum…and lying on the floor in front of the back seat of his car, holding his belt as the belt held up the muffler.  I miss my dad.

My own son is gone.  Tomorrow marks the second Father’s Day I have had to celebrate with only one child instead of two.  This holiday is being celebrated while many of Micah’s friends and hockey teammates are in San Jose, preparing for the NARCh West Coast Finals.  I’ve seen the Facebook posts.  I’ve stared at the pictures.  Micah would have been there.  I would have probably been there with him.  It would have been our first ever trip to Northern California, to San Francisco, to the Golden Gate Bridge, to Alcatraz.  Instead, it’s another reminder of everything I’ve lost.

As we prepare to move into our new house–the house at 3706–we do not have our 37.  I know he’s with us in spirit, and he is never far from our thoughts, but he will never carry his hockey bag into this new house.  He won’t be wishing me a Happy Father’s Day from the sofa in between games of Skyrim.

The pictures…the videos…the memories…are my Father’s Day gift from my son.  Not to sound selfish or spoiled–but they’re not enough.

David

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