Wait, Did You Say a Rat?

I am not in the door two steps from arriving home from work when Rebekah hits me with her news. “Hey Dad, at school we have these two rats that had 11 babies, and well… the teachers are allowing some of us to adopt two rats to take home as pets, so I filled out the an application at school, so can I get the rats if my application is accepted?” Now, I can safely say that without hesitation I said, “Absolutely not” in the next two steps into the house.” A Rat? Really? I don’t like the chipmunk who thinks he has free reign in the garage. A rat in the house? Wait, two rats in the house?

Um… NO.

Rebekah was crushed at my quick response. She ran upstairs sobbing into her bedroom and shut the door. Now realizing that maybe I answered her too quickly. I went upstairs for some much needed damage control.

I know her heart is in the right place. Unfortunately she is allergic to dogs, cats, and horses. She can’t pet them, be near them and it breaks her heart. Mine too. What little girl does not yearn for the affection of one of these animals? (In case you have not guessed it, we do not have any pets.) She is also allergic to dairy… so no milk, ice cream, heavy cream, and her cheese intake is low. As for the rats, she articulated to me very well that since she was allergic to all the other animals that maybe, just maybe, she would not be allergic to rats. Rather hopeful outlook, and I admired the thought process… but rats in the house? Willingly? Um… NO.

We talked for awhile and she cried some more, I’d like to think that she understands my position, but I guess I’ll find out in the morning.

Switching gears here, I secretly hope she is allergic to rats. It will make dating go a lot easier on my daughter.

And me.

1991 Utica Chieftians

Jen, Billy, Me, Brett, Chris, and Chuck

20 years.

XCI=XX.

More time out that in. The 1991 Utica Chieftains (from MI not NY) celebrated in relaxed style at Snooker’s Pool & Pub Friday. 20 years out and there is the grim realization that life has battle tested us all. The 20 years have been harder on some, and easier on others. A few faces show the weariness beyond there age. Some look like they just stepped off the podium at graduation. Some classmates are married with kids, some divorced with kids. A few have come out, and some are happy being single. A few were transitioning to new professions while some were still unemployed from a depressed Detroit job market.

In every case, the friendships still persevered. The clicks still intact. I spoke with many classmates that I have not seen since the 10 year, and we picked up right where we left off. It’s funny how life is like that. Despite whatever cards life has dealt us. For 3 hours we forgot about all that was life and were transported back into the band room, to homecoming and prom, on the football field, in AP History, the auditorium at Cinderella rehearsals, and even elementary school, religion class, and recess. I would venture to say that most people needed the time away from life. I would be lying if I said I didn’t appreciate the 3 hour recess.

I looked around the room on Friday and thought to myself “Who was voted most likely to succeed? Did they live up? Who was voted The Prettiest? Well Dressed? Class Clown, Biggest Flirt, Most Intellegent?” 20 years removed do these superficial labels still hold up? I was voted “Most Creative” and “Most School Spirit” My pal Chuck was voted “Most Artistic” I can safely say the two of us have tried to uphold our end of the bargain. Have others? It would be an interesting exercise to revisit that list. I wonder if it’s in the yearbook? (If only I had been voted “Best Memory” Dammit!)

Here are 20 highlights from my 20 year high school class reunion:

1. There were a lot more people there than expected.
2. There were many people not there that I expected to see.
3. Sam’s response to Seth’s question: “So you graduated with us? Why don’t I remember you?” was classic… Sam responded, “well that’s okay I understand that you don’t remember me… I just only gave the commencement speech at graduation.”
4. John saying he was going to leave after 30 minutes and then staying for another 3 hours. I am glad he stayed.
5. Spilling beer and wine on a pool table is not frowned upon by the waitstaff.
6. Everybody loves a raffle. Even though it was B U L L S H I T that I didn’t win.
7. Three vodka martini’s. mmmmm.
8. The twins Todd and Tom’s name tag fight. At one point they read “Not Todd” and “I’m not the gay one.”
9. Reenacting a picture from the 10 year reunion and realizing we are a lot more colorful now. (I hope we all make it to see the 30.)
10. “Snooker’s Pool & Pub” should be renamed to “Snooker’s only 4 pool tables & 200 drinking poker players”.
11. Billy needs to be playing the blues guitar and raking in the cash.
12. Realizing that Dawn has an excellent memory, and maybe loves the Detroit Tigers almost as much, if not more than me. Her 2 boys are on probably cloud 9 since she won two of the Tigers prizes.
13. Chris… “Yeah, I flipped and Alfa Romeo in high school.”
14. Chuck’s artwork is still hanging in the band room. Courtesy of Chris.
15. Looking across the room at my former High School sweetheart and then realizing we’ve been married for almost 15 years.
16. Dave Essad’s quote that ended in “Mouthwash” is truly an off air story, and that his faith in the religion of Sarcasm is as strong as mine.
17. Realizing that Margo was more prepared for our reunion than the planning committee. (She graduated in 1992)
18. Rachel has a daughter that has already graduated.
19. Camp Tamarack was nothing compared to what fun Joel gets to have at his camp, and that my title as Creative Camp Counselor at StormFrog, has in fact, nothing to do with a real camp.
20. Wiley Elementary wins with the most in attendance at the nights end.

Thursday Night Hunting Season

Ugh. Third time’s a charm. Tried to get all savvy and write this post from my phone, then from my ipad. Both times I prematurely published the post before it was ready. Sorry about all the confusion. Now onto the real post:

When I come home from WBER on early Friday morning I usually am thinking about my pillow, looking for cops and looking out for the crazies on the road. Last Thursday got me thinking about a whole new danger. The deer.

The proximity of the new house allows me to take the back roads instead of the expressway when coming home from the radio station. It’s much faster and I’m home in a flash. I never see deer. Frankly, the time is pushing 2:30 am, and I rarely see anyone. However last week I got spooked by 4 deer crossing the road. I had to slow to a stop to allow them all to safely cross. I thought to myself how odd it was to see deer out so late and continued on my drive. About a mile later another deer started to cross the road. On the right I saw his eyes glint, he hesitated, the started to come on the road then thought twice. He turned and bolted back into the adjacent field.

Now I am on high alert. One of my biggest fears while driving is hitting animals. Especially deer. By the time I got to the village I caught up to another car. Less than a mile away from my house, a deer bolts from the left and the white Honda in front of me never had a chance to react. SLAM… the deer was struck and was now in the middle of the road. I stopped to see if the driver was okay, and I have to admit I was very apprehensive of coming up to the damaged car. It’s like that moment in E.R. where the doctors realize they are needed to help the victims of an accident and there is blood and broken bones everywhere. Except I would have no idea what to do. Thankfully the two young girls here both okay. They were shaken up. But they were both okay. Unfortunately for the deer he was still alive and immobile in the road. It looked like he was laying down watching us but it was clear that the reason he was not going anywhere was because he had major damage to his body. (I say he but I guess it could have been a doe, not really sure though.)

The driver called 911 and in moments there were squad cars, fire trucks and volunteer fireman on the scene. One of the policeman recognized the driver and it turns out this girl hit another deer a couple weeks ago, and he helped her then as well. She had just gotten her car back from the collision shop a few days earlier. Talk about bad luck. Her white Honda was crushed in on the driver’s side. The girls were safe and in good hands and the time was pushing 3:30am. I took my cue to leave when the one officer mentioned he needed to put the deer that had gotten hit down. I knew it was the right thing to do, but I didn’t want to be there when it happened.

When coming back from WBER, I need to not think about my pillow anymore and just worry about the road, the cops, the crazies, and now the deer. By thinking about these will ensure that I will safely find my pillow.

My 10 Adopted Rules of Thumb

I received a great gift today.

This gift as given to me by my good friends Adell and Dom on the eve of their wedding day. Few know this, but I will marry them tomorrow in an outside service at a local country club here in Western New York. Yes, I have been ordained. No I’d rather not debate the humor of the previous statement. Instead I’d like to talk about the gift. It’s a framed poster titled: My 10 adopted rules of thumb, and it’s pictured above. I wish i could take credit for this list and the design, but alas it was done by someone else. Adell and Dom know me well, and they also know this is something I would really enjoy. They nailed it. As their reward I will nail the framed poster on my office wall, and enjoy it every time I pass by. For me there are very few gifts that surpass framed art with personal meaning, especially the ones least expected.

And the list is as follows:

My 10 Adopted Rules of Thumb

1. If you are in love with an idea you are no judge of it’s beauty or value.
2. It is difficult to see the whole picture when you are inside the frame.
3. After learning the tricks of the trade, don’t think you know the trade.
4. We hear and apprehend what we already know.
5. The dog that stays on the porch will find no bones
6. Never state a problem in the same terms it was brought to you.
7. If it’s off beat or surprising it’s probably useful.
8. If you do not expect the unexpected, you will not find it.
9. Don’t get to serious.
10. If you hit the bullseye every time the target is too near.

Love at Three Sights

When I was younger I never believed in love at first sight. My life in advertising as an Art Director had trained me to never buy into the movie or television romances exploited by the entertainment industry. From early on I understood that on-screen romances were driven by plot lines, ratings and had nothing to do with real chemistry. A major component to love. However love is very abstract. It doesn’t follow rules and doesn’t pretend to play favorites and I understand that now. Love transcends the logical and gets you to see life differently. Eyes become opened, and this, at times, happens in an instant.

Such as, the first time I saw my son Joey. That was love at first sight. The doctor held him up, eyes wide open and he was big and strong. I picked him up and everything changed (stealing a line from Ben Folds).

The first time I saw my daughter Rebekah. That was love at first sight. Her tiny frame so fragile. Her cry so sweet. I fell hard that day.

The first time I saw youngest son Aaron, albeit one month early, well you guessed it, and that was before i knew he would grow into a sarcastic and witty energetic fireball.

I often think back to that time when I first saw each one of my children. When i do, my heart swells, and I get lost in thought. My reward is a memory burned into the soft tissue of my brain. It’s like the finger print of the one I love is permanently there for the rest of my days. I hope it’s something my three kids get to experience someday.

So if someone today asked me if i believed in love at first sight I would respond with a revised view of “depends on the case”. If somebody said to me “what about chemistry at first sight?”

Well that’s a definite yes, and a whole ‘nother blog post.

Musical Morphine

For me, there are very few things in this world that can compete with experience of listening to good live music. Something about watching a person, band or group pour their entire selves into what they love, to produce sound, to make music is extremely good times, potato salad. If the artist or group, messes with time signatures, masters the tight formations of start and stops, involves dramatic crescendo’s to great high’s, decrescendo’s to soulful lows, is filled with rich harmony and jaw dropping vocals I’ll be hooked like a bass fish on the mighty Mississippi.

While biology tells me I hear via the eardrums, I know the music really enters my body through the fingertips, and travels up the tendons like a superhighway to the brain. While it’s on its way, the music seeps into the bone marrow of my bones… depositing little hits of musical morphine along the way. It may sound abstract. A tad odd, maybe even corny, but this is what listening to good live music does for me. To say my heart aches with good vibrations is an understatement.

Tonight I saw the band Chamberlin again with my pals T.C. and Grant Taylor. An upstart Vermont band on the tail end their first headlining tour. They played an the club side of Water Street Music Hall in downtown Rochester. The setting is intimate. The stage is small, and you are fortunate to be close to the artists. There is no hiding behind the distance for the musicians or the guests. It’s obvious when either side is not engaged, so both better bring the energy. I am fond of this band. A couple months ago I interviewed Mark and Eric from Chamberlin at 90.5fm WBER the last time they were in town. Two great guys that I would have back at the studio at any point. If you have the time, look them up on Spotify, iTunes, or whatever music outlet you choose.

This was a night I needed. I spent most of the concert with my eyes closed. Letting the live music do it’s thing. While it doesn’t truly clean my soul I will gladly take the hit of musical morphine, and survive for another day.

The Sinking Titanic

I have always liked Halloween. Something about one day that allows each person the freedom to be something outside their normal selves. To live for a brief moment what it’s like to be a wizard, or have the respect of a firefighter, or the command of an entire room as a simple black cat. The candy was an added bonus. As a graduate of the College of Creative Studies, it almost comes with the degree. Creative = Love Halloween. Ever since the Mayernik Trio came around I have had a new found love for the holiday. I have made costumes for the kids ever since they could walk. There was Junior Asparagus, The Boardwalk Monopoly Card, R2D2, the Crayola Crayon Box, the Legos and more. But now it’s different. Joey, Rebekah and Aaron would rather do their own thing now. the store bought… the closet scrounge… the borrowed costume. I would like to think that I could will my love of Halloween on them, but alas it’s not the case (I might still have a shot with Aaron). Shouldn’t be surprised I guess. Julie’s still doesn’t like the holiday.

This year was the first year that Joey was not even with me for the night. He opted to trick or treat with his friends. Again, shouldn’t be surprised. He is a Freshman.

An end of a era for me and my love of Halloween. It’s just not the same now. The kids are quickly outgrowing the trick or treating. The brain says it’s time to let go, but the heart wants to plan the costume for next year. I think the brain will win the fight. As irony has it, I wore my Sinking Titanic costume out when I went out trick or treating Monday with Rebekah and Aaron. I didn’t realize the irony until i got home.

Sinking Titanic. Like my love for Halloween.