Tuesday, January 31, 2006

My life could be divided into two parts, right now. The various chapters would make up Part I, life before Julie, and Part II, the continuing saga I live each day since finding my soul mate. I was never a ladies man. Apparently not much of a risk taker, either. Throughout my formative years, Matt seemed to fill that role of risk taker; I learned years later that he was much more of a ladies man than I was, too.

Sometime during our senior year of high school, he confided in me that he'd lost his virginity years earlier. I was devastated. Not sure why. Jealousy, I guess. And ego. I'd always thought of myself as "cooler" than Matt. Isn't that shitty? My best friend and I was always one step away from him, pursuing membership into more popular cliques. Mind you, I was loyal to Matt. I would have defended him no matter what he did back then. Once, when he was in a stupor, Matt clocked this kid at one of my annual summer party's. No reason. He just felt like punching the kid.

Did I reprimand him? Did I cut off his beer and tell him to straighten up? Hell no. In fact, I told the kid he punched (his neighbor, no less) to leave the party. Matt was my friend. My brother. He wasn't leaving the party. The next day, when I went to start a fight with this punk who'd tried to take advantage of my, then, girlfriend, I accidentally smashed the kid's garage window. I say accident. I was pounding on the glass calling him out for a fight. As blood trailed down my arm and I stood there in shock, Matt hauled my ass back to the car, threw me in and we drove away. (Any doubts that this guy had made the moves on my girl were quelled when he didn't pursue me having to pay for the window. Apparently, a broken window was even payback for feeling up a guy's intoxicated girlfriend).

I was passionate even back then. I wore my emotions on my sleeve. I put my heart out there for the girls I was in love with, and Matt supportted me. He wanted to see me happy.

There are, I'd say, four important female relationships in my life before I met Jules. Matt listened to my whining and constant talk. The girl I had a crush in from 3rd through 5th grade wouldn't give me the time of day. Maybe she wasn't ready for a boyfriend, like all the other cool kids were doing. Or perhaps it was the glasses that took up half of my face, I don't know? But Matt listened to my constant questions. "Why doesn't she like me? Do you think she'll be in school today? What do I say if she wants to talk to me." He grinned and bared it.

The next two girls were high school romances. One girl was a complete jock. She and I were constantly dating on and off throughout high school until she graduated a year before me. While I had some friends question why I was even interested in a total tom-boy who played soccer and never wore a dress, Matt only questioned whether I was happy. And then there was the girl that broke my heart. Senior year was magical in so many ways. And then the girl moved and I became a blubbering idiot. The first person I called when I learned she was leaving was Matt. Sitting behind the counter at American Video, I cried my eyes out to him. Matt invited me over to console me. What could he do? After the girl left town, I absorbed countless hours of Springsteen's "Tunnel of Love" that I had borrowed from him. My introduction to the boss came through heartbreak.

when I finally got over THE girl from high school, there was one other relationship that took up a portion of my life the last two years at Bowling Green. This girl and I sucked the life out of each other, and escaping to Athens to visit Matt at Ohio University was one of the few releases I had to escape the misery she and I were putting each other through. Thankfully, the relationship ended (not on a good note, mind you, but it was over).

The break up occurred just before graduation and I swore off dating until I made my move to California. Well, that never happened. I met Julie that same summer and I could not deny the forces of nature that were pulling us together. After one date, I knew I was going to marry Julie. And of course, one of the first people I told was Matt. He smiled... I can still see that whimsical smile with his long curly hair hanging on his shoulders. "Man, that is so fucking cool." He said to me.

Before he moved away, Matt taught me how to play the chords of Springsteen's "Book of Dreams" so that I could serenade Julie and propose to her. It was a parting gift before he moved on to his life in Seattle and Jules and I began our life together.

As I reflect on this part of my relationship with my deceased friend, I'm trying to look at the good parts of his support and how he hoped for the best for me. After we got married, nothing was ever quite the same between us. His search for a soul mate always ended badly. He was a man capable of a lot of love and loyalty. But he was also so into experiencing "the moment" that I think his judgment was sometimes clouded.

There was one girl that he never got over. She broke up with him after several years together and I really think that that broken heart sent him sprialing for two, three years. His mood darkened. He began drinking heavily. These things, coupled with a move back to Ohio and his denial of how serious his diabetes was really changed him.

But he always had hope. Hope that he'd find a girl of his dreams again. Maybe in the great hereafter, he's found a smart, gorgeous woman that satisfies all of his needs.

I hope.

Aloha

That college

Monday, January 30, 2006

Snake Plissken...?

Received some great news today that I get to write an episode of the series I'm working on. Although the tone of the show is slapstick comedy, I feel up to the task. And, God, I need some levity and need to be able to write it. I mean, come on, Blazing Saddles and Arrested Development have brought me so much joy; I grew up watching the Abbott and Costello movies and worshiping the Marx Brothers; and Animal House and Dumb and Dumber rank high on my all time favorite movie lists. Some of it has to have rubbed off on me.

No, I feel good about this. It also helps that the writing staff is very supportive and I will be able to bounce ideas off of them.

Thinking back on all of those movies I watched as a kid stirs up memories of Matt. The two of us must have seen every movie at the old First Run Video store back in North Olmsted. That was, I believe, the very first video store in town. Maybe American Video opened around the same time, but I never heard of American Video until I went to work there in high school (and the Blockbuster didn't open until 1987 either).

My mom won a VCR back in the early 80's; I was in 7th grade. At the time, no one I knew, besides the rich kid I hung out with (who also had one of the first big screen projection televisions) had a VCR. So, when Mom asked me whether she should claim the prize (3rd prize at a home show), I ran around the house screaming. At this pint in my life, I knew I wanted to be a writer, but screenwriting had not entered my mind. I was just excited that we'd be able to rent all of those horror movies Matt and I read about in Fangoria magazine (horror movies that Tony worked on).

That's what we started with... horror movies. For months on end, we watched whatever gory bloodfest we could get our hands on. And my parents were cool with it. I believe that because of Tony, and the fact that we read so voraciously about how make up effects were done, my mom and dad didn't think these horror movies would warp our minds. The jury is still out on that one. At some point, my dad made me agree to watch an old movie with him as a condition to watching whatever I wanted
This is where my love for movies developed and eventually I realized I wanted to become a filmmaker. I saw so many Hitchcock and classic 70's movies at that time. Is still recall seeing Marathon Man for the first time. "Is it safe?"

In 7th grade, Matt and I were still in the Advanced Study Program together. During that year, us ASP kids spent most of the day win Mrs. Whitwell's class. She was a feisty English woman who knew how to put a snotty band director's kid in his place. That year, Matt and I did a presentation on "horror." What is horror? That was the questioned we posed. It was a pretty kick ass oral presentation. We had a four sided diagram on poster board. We turned out the lights and had a black light and strobe light flickering. As we spoke, spooky music played over my tiny cassette player. The presentation ended with "Under Pressure", the Queen/Bowie song. I'm not sure how a couple of 7th graders were able to grasp the message of that song. Part of me believes that we dug the song because it was by the same guys who did the soundtrack to the Flash Gordon movie. Matt and I saw that together.

Soon after we came home with our flip top VCR, Matt convinced his parents to buy their own VCR. "Everyone's going to have one, " he told them. Boy, was he right. We watched Dawn of the Dead and a horrible movie called Maniac propped up on our elbows and jacked up on pop and candy. Matt's dad was also into the classics, but he didn't want anything to do with those old movies. Give me what was new! In color, damn it! Still, he latched on to 2001 at some point. I still don't get that movie. Most of the movies I saw at that time still hold a special place in my heart. Along with the novels of Stephen King, the movies of John Carpenter, David Cronenberg and George Romero shaped who I am... is that bad.

One of our favorites was Escape from New York. Adrienne Barbeau was smokin' hot (boy, would Matt have gotten a kick out of the fact that she's in American Standard); Donald Pleasance was creepy; the music was cool and Kurt Russell was BAD ASS. "Snake Plissken... I heard you was dead." We used to say that to each other. I watched that movie about eight years ago and I was disappointed at how much it dragged. I couldn't believe this was the same flick we'd worshipped.

I think it was because Matt wasn't there to watch it with me.

Aloha

Sunday, January 29, 2006

Finished the room today and I'm wiped out. I have that layer of grime and latex on me from being around paint all day. But I'm kind of wired (probably from the paint fumes) so I'm no where near ready to go to bed. The room looks great. We chose the right color.

Last night I watched "The Quiet American" starring Michael Caine and Brenden Fraser. Man, what a fantastic movie. I love the way the story weaves one man's desperation to stay with his lover and in the process, gets sucked into something larger than himself. Truly one of the best pictures I've seen in a long time.

I also spoke with Elliott last night. I'll tell you, it was a great conversation lasting over an hour. Since Matt died he and I have spoken every six weeks or so, the mood generally getting better. Both of us marveled that it's almost been a year since Matt left us. Elliott was the closest to him when he died. The two of them spoke almost nightly. They were best friends as well as brothers. In a way, Elliott had taken my place. Not that I was a great friend in his last few years. I'm glad that Matt had Elliott, though.

In some strange way, I look at the way Elliott and I have been talking and I feel like we have become substitute "Matts" in each others lives. I like that. I really enjoy talking to him and our conversations. Last night we reminisced about MB, I told Elliott some stories from our youth, he shared a couple from Matt's days in Seattle. It's nice to keep Matt alive. Even through the disappointments and the sadness, he had a good heart. Matt was capable of great and many things. And he could also be a real jackass at times, too.

I say that because I loved him dearly. My anger and frustration at him in the end was due to so much going on in both of our lives at that time. When Jacob was born, I wasn't in the right frame mentally to be able to appreciate or deal with my oldest friend. Perhaps he resented that. Or maybe he thought he was giving me space, like he did that time when my Dad had heart surgery and I didn't hear from him for two weeks after he returned from college. Matt had a strange way of dealing with people.

I think I'll probably be reflecting about him all week. Funny how we are so prone to think at length about a person after they have died... and upon the anniversary of their death. Shouldn't I be thinking about Matt just as much on August 9th, the day he was born? That's not the way it works, though, is it? Perhaps by paying respect to him this week in the blog I was will be healed of the wound of his death and I will be able to go on. I hope.

He haunts me, though. He lurks around in my thoughts and dreams. And when I imagine I see a phantom running just around the corner in the hallway... I'm sure it's him, checking up on me. Making sure I keep it together and continue on with what I'm supposed to be doing.

I'll end with a recollection of the most recent dream I had of him. In it, the two of us were in my college apartment, sitting on the stairwell that led to my basement bedroom. As I was there, tying my dress shoes, Matt was sitting just above me, smoking one of those hand rolled cigarettes he'd perfected. Our conversation was typical. I was in a hurry, he was being casual, prodding me for information. Yet, in the dream, I was also agitated. I had to tell Matt something I knew. I had to tell him that I had been to the future and I knew he was going to die.

So prod away, he continued, until I figured out a way to tell him what I had to say. I figured out a way to explain that I'd defied the laws of physics and come back in time to save him. Because, no matter how much of a lunatic I sounded like, saving Matt was more important.

(These were the feeling I was having in the dream. I felt them down to my soul, they were so real.)

"Matt, there's something I have to tell you." I finally said.
"What is it, Scott?"
"I've seen the future."
"Oh-kay. And"
"I'm serious. I know what's going to happen to you."
"What?"

And then I woke up.

I couldn't save him. Not in life. And not in my dreams.

Aloha

Saturday, January 28, 2006

The problem with biology...

Fell asleep three times last night. Once while putting Jake to bed. Then Sophie woke up and wanted me to snuggle her...#2. Finally, I got up around midnight so I could wash and boil the nebulizer cups. While the water was starting to boil, I fell asleep on the couch. Wait, if you count actually crawling into bed to sleep for the rest of the night, that's actually four times. So, you can understand why I didn't have an opportunity to sit down and wait for our dial up to take 15 minutes to connect and our AOL service to take another 10 minutes to get me to the Blogger web page.

So far, it's been mostly me and Jake together this weekend. Jules had to work today and Sophie wound up going over to B&K's to play with her cousins. When she came home, Jules got back from work and the two of them went to a birthday party for the girls down the street. So, Jake and I have been hanging out. He's passed out on the couch right now. Little guy really needs to take a nap during the day, but he didn't today.

It doesn't help that I'm painting the master bedroom. You may be thinking, why doesn't Jacob just sleep in his own bed. BWA HA HA HA! No, really, that's pretty funny.

Painting the room always takes me back to my college summers spent working on the North Olmsted Maintenance Crew with Steve. I always think that that was a lazy time for us, but when I look back, we did a lot of painting during those summers. I'm not saying we were professionals, but I don';t think they would have kept hiring us back if we were complete fuck ups.

What's ironic is that I was listening to the Classic Rock XM radio station and pretty much the same songs we were listening to that summer were playing today.

What's the deal with satellite radio, anyway? I thought there would be more variety. Maybe there are more stations, but all of the stations are pretty much formatted radio stations like you'd find on the FM dial. So where's the appeal? No commercials? I guess. But I want to hear a variety of music, man. Play me Radiohead followed by Lou Reed followed by Diana Ross & the Supremes followed by some Hank Williams and top the little set with some Journey, Shawn Colvin and the Boss. Where's THAT radio station? It doesn't exist. At least, not on XM. And as far as I can tell from checking our the Sirius channel listing, they don't have anything like that either. Where's the variety?

Julie and Sophie just got home so that's all for tonight.

Aloha

Post for Thursday, 1/26/06

The problem with technology is that it sometimes takes a dump on you. Case in point, we lost phone service on Thursday and there was no way to connect to the Internet. I know your jaw must be on the ground by now thinking "how could they NOT have DSL?" But, for some reason, affordable DSL has not reached our little neighborhood. And the fact that our phone company couldn't tell us when our land line would be back up and running was equally frustrating. Originally they gave us a five day window.

FIVE DAYS?!

No wonder they're losing business to cellular phone companies.

Anyway, I did write on Thursday. Here is what I was going to post:

Just spent the past hour and a half writing eight pages of material that is darker than anything I've ever written before. Not just horror movie dark, but uncomfortable in your own skin dark. Am I just trying to be provocative and cause a stir like SAW or HOSTEL? Or am I working out some sick issues I have floating around in my head. Where is this coming from? What region of my brain?

I'm afraid to answer that. I have read things and seen things that are disturbing enough that I didn't have to really make the stuff up. But is it worth writing it? Am I creating anything artistic? And does that matter? That's the really sad thing. I'm not sure I want to know the answer to that one.

Truth is, people aren't going to be watching this horror movie because it was written well. That's just an added bonus, right? We know what they really want. Some blood. Some breasts. Some scares. All of which is out of my hands.

I've been a little apprehensive about starting this script. Maybe it was this scene that has been holding me back. Now that I'm done and I can say, I'm writing the script, perhaps I won't procrastinate any more. It shouldn't take me that long to write this script. Maybe that's what's stopping me. Ego.

Do I really think I'm that good a writer?

My ego thinks so, but others would beg to differ. Otherwise, why have I has so much difficulty finding representation. Why were the last two scripts I wrote rejected, even though I felt they were strong work? Ego.

As I was mid-sentence of this grotesque scene, Jake came over to give me a hug goodnight. He walked two steps, paused, and then came back for a second hug with a huge grin on his face. I can't tell you how dirty I felt, writing this scene while my son was standing close by. This isn't something I want him to see, ever. Maybe TG will cut it. Or RJ will hate it and want it gone, too.

Should I cut it? Am I over reacting? Will I ever stop asking questions like this?

Not tonight.

Aloha

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

WHMP RIP Edition 1-25-06




From: Scott
Date: Wed, 25 Jan 2006
To: Steve

Hey,

I did my best to find some connection between Chris Penn and Wilson Pickett, but the task was fruitless (and I ran out of time). I'm sure that out there, somewhere, someone can find a movie in which one of Pickett's songs appeared in a Chris Penn movie.

I was going to dedicate today's song entirely to Pickett, but I've always been a fan of Penn, even getting excited when he appeared on a recent episode of Everwood> So I thought it fitting to include a dedication to him in this week’s edition of the hump day song.

I first became exposed to “Wicked” Pickett in the summer of ‘87, when I went on a soul music kick after discovering Otis Redding in Washington DC. I had bought some Atlantic cheap-o compilation and wore it out. From there, I bought similar tapes by Aretha, Sam & Dave and Wilson Pickett. Of those three, Pickett’s tape got the most use. The common thread of all four of these artists was the passion they brought to their music, whether it be a ballad or a balls out jam. But Pickett had an intensity about his voice that sounded dangerous. And I liked that.

I vividly recall cleaning out the red van the day after the Petty concert (I had too, thanks to Mr. Sprague) and listening to that Wilson Pickett tape over and over again. Brookshire was hangin’ out with me and he commented on several of the songs. At the time, he was kind of joking about the songs. However, there is a part of me that believes that Matt was attracted to Pickett’s intensity, too. I’m sure Matt liked the danger and the darkness of Pickett’s voice. That would have been something Matt dug. Instead of replaying “In the Midnight Hour” or “Mustang Sally”, here is a song I love. “634-5789 (Soulsville USA)”.

As for Chris Penn, like I said, I’ve always admired his work. While I am one of the few who saw “The Wild Life” (even Cameron Crowe seems to disown the movie), I thought he was funny/sad in the role. More poignant was his role in “All the Right Moves” as the football star who gets his girlfriend pregnant and they decide to wed. He thinks his life is going to be great... An extension of high school. But we all know where that guy is headed. He’ll work the steel factory the rest of his life ... Or at least until it shuts down. Great work. Of course, he really hit his stride in the 90’s as a character actor. Which brings us to “Little Green Bag” by George Baker.

I’ll never forget watching “Reservoir Dogs” in the basement of my house, drinking Seagram's... At about 4 in the afternoon. Strange experience, but I knew I was watching something special. Penn, of course, shines in this movie. Like most of his films, he had a natural ability to plan menacing and hurt at the same time. One need only watch “Short Cuts” again to marvel at his standout performance. The guy is going to be missed.

That’s it for this week.

Best,
S


From: Steve
Date: Wed, 25 Jan 2006
To: Scott

Another terrific message. This Wednesday ritual has become the eye of the hurricane for me. Thank you for the 8,392nd time for your thoughtfulness.

I tried to track down your blog not long ago without success. What's the address?

From: Scott
Date: Wed, 25 Jan 2006
To: Steve

www.augustone.com

Funny, I just came across this brief mention of today’s song on Roling Stone’s web site....

“When Pickett first heard this Eddie Floyd-Steve Cropper song, he called it "a piece of shit"; he and Floyd nearly came to blows. But the heated contrast of Pickett's bravado against the smooth groove and backing chirp of Patti Labelle and the Bluebelles made "634-5789" the hottest phone number in the land.”

Glad I can be of a service. Take care.
S

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

I must be a glutton for pain, or a complete imbecile. My neighbor has said he will run a half marathon in June to raise money for CF and I told him I would train with him and run it with him. Am I nuts? But he’s dedicated. Seriously. You know how sometimes you talk about a task in passing or just to make some conversatrion, not thinking it will really lead to anything. Uh, yeah, not this guy. He called this afternoon wanting to know when we would begin running.

Heh, heh.

So, I guess I’ll look into a training schedule and into getting some new shoes. These ones I have aren’t doing the job. My feet hurt so much and they don’t offer enough arch support.

Been thinking a lot about Matt lately. It’s coming up un the anniversary of his death. I should call Elliott and email his mom. I can’t believe it’s been a year. Miss him. I look at old photos of him and think, “where the hell are you, Brookens?”

A year. Damn.

Monday, January 23, 2006

Old habits die hard

Once again, I missed a night by choosing sleep over the computer. What the hell!

Just kidding. We spent three hours waiting in line to get tested to see if we were a bone marrow match for a 12 year old boy living Stevenson Ranch. He's fighting leukemia and no one in his family matches. I just learned that one of my coworkers' brother died from leukemia. I was, like, shell shocked when he told me. Here he is, a quiet, laid back, cool dude. I guess if I'd asked him about his life a little more... funny how you never know about anyone's life and the pain they may have gone through.

We all have our share, huh?

Anyway, my original point was that we waited in line for 3 hours in the cold (which wore us out) because there were around a thousand people who showed up to get checked. That was frickin' awesome. We don't know this boy. I doubt many of the people in line with us knew him, either. Sometimes he human spirit is stronger that the Santa Ana winds.

I'm out for tonight. Checking out the new Kong with Vill.

Oh, by the way, I've been keeping up the short story resolution. So far. I'm working my way through a collection of Raymond Carver stories. Denman would be proud (or maybe he'd say, "it's about time, kid.")

Aloha

Saturday, January 21, 2006

Brief review of "The Island"


I'm disappointed that I didn't get to the keyboard last night. I fell asleep putting Jacob down and when I awoke (around 10:30), I was too groggy to think straight. Of course, when I decide to go back to bed, I was wide awake. Whatever.

Work has been solid for the past couple of weeks. Busy. Plus, I'm developing some new stories for possible future scripts. I plan to pitch them to the manager I have been dealing with for the past couple of months. Hopefully something will stick.

At the same time, I have begun "Soulless 2", a sequel to a horror script I wrote years ago, and should be going into production soon. "Should" is the key word in that sentence. Still, I am optimistic.

I had planned to review "The Island" last night. I had very low expectations. Truth is, I have trouble sitting through Michael Bay's movies. But I didn't hate this one. In fact, before the movie became an action flick, I was enjoying the sci-fi angle of the whole movie. And I really liked the performances by Ewan McGregor and Scarlett Johansson. Their characters are supposed to only mentally developed to the age of 14 year olds and they both did this nicely.

That's it for now.

Aloha

Thursday, January 19, 2006


Finally, here is a family picture taken after the race. I could say so much more about the three people in the picture with me. I don’t have the space or time today. So I’ll end by saying I’d be nothing without their love and support. I love you, Julie, Sophie and Jake.

Aloha

This second image is of Nancy and me after we completed the race. Once again, Jacquie is with us. Let me just say this about Jacquie. We’ve known a lot of CF Foundation people over the four years we’ve been involved, and she’s one of the best. Such positive energy and a real go-getter. Man, I sound like one of those old 50’s movies… “A real go getter, Charlie!”

Anyway, I wish we had someone like Jacquie in the Los Angeles chapter. This is not to knock the L.A. chapter, they really work hard. But they seem to have such a high turnover with their staff. It’s nerve racking.


Finally, here is a family picture taken after the race. I could say so much more about the three people in the picture with me. I don’t have the space or time today. So I’ll end by saying I’d be nothing without their love and support. I love you, Julie, Sophie and Jake.

Aloha

Race day pictures!


I had the opportunity to speak with my coach, Robert, a little while ago. He called to congratulate me on completing the half marathon. He also tried to convince me that I would be able to run another half marathon this year. The guy is nuts, I tell you. Nuts!

He directed me to some pictures taken the day of the race.

This first one was taken before we started the race. From left to right are: Me, Nancy, Jacquie, from the CF Foundation, and my sister Beth. Don’t we all look happy to be there? Actually, our mood was excellent that morning. And like I said last week, I didn’t experience any nervousness before the race. If anything, it felt like just another day running early in the morning.


This second image is of Nancy and me after we completed the race. Once again, Jacquie is with us. Let me just say this about Jacquie. We’ve known a lot of CF Foundation people over the four years we’ve been involved, and she’s one of the best. Such positive energy and a real go-getter. Man, I sound like one of those old 50’s movies… “A real go getter, Charlie!”

Anyway, I wish we had someone like Jacquie in the Los Angeles chapter. This is not to knock the L.A. chapter, they really work hard. But they seem to have such a high turnover with their staff. It’s nerve racking.

I had the opportunity to speak with my coach, Robert, a little while ago. He called to congratulate me on completing the half marathon. He also tried to convince me that I would be able to run another half marathon this year. The guy is nuts, I tell you. Nuts!

He directed me to some pictures taken the day of the race.

This first one was taken before we started the race. From left to right are: Me, Nancy, Jacquie, from the CF Foundation, and my sister Beth. Don’t we all look happy to be there? Actually, our mood was excellent that morning. And like I said last week, I didn’t experience any nervousness before the race. If anything, it felt like just another day running early in the morning.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

I am opposed to this war

I read this commentary by Ron Kovic and was so moved that I had to post it.

********

THE FORGOTTEN WOUNDED OF IRAQ

Thirty-eight years ago, on Jan. 20, 1968, I was shot and paralyzed from my mid-chest down during my second tour of duty in Vietnam. It is a date that I can never forget, a day that was to change my life forever. Each year as the anniversary of my wounding in the war approached I would become extremely restless, experiencing terrible bouts of insomnia, depression, anxiety attacks and horrifying nightmares.

I dreaded that day and what it represented, always fearing that the terrible trauma of my wounding might repeat itself all over again. It was a difficult day for me for decades and it remained that way until the anxieties and nightmares finally began to subside.
As I now contemplate another January 20th I cannot help but think of the young men and women who have been wounded in the war in Iraq. They have been coming home now for almost three years, flooding Walter Reed, Bethesda, Brooke Army Medical Center and veterans hospitals all across the country. Paraplegics, amputees, burn victims, the blinded and maimed, shocked and stunned, brain-damaged and psychologically stressed, over 16,000 of them, a whole new generation of severely maimed is returning from Iraq, young men and women who were not even born when I came home wounded to the Bronx veterans hospital in 1968.

I, like most other Americans, have occasionally seen them on TV or at the local veterans hospital, but for the most part they remain hidden, like the flag-draped caskets of our dead, returned to Dover Air Force Base in the darkness of night as this administration continues to pursue a policy of censorship, tightly controlling the images coming out of that war and rarely ever allowing the human cost of its policy to be seen.

Mosul, Fallouja, Basra, Baghdad, a roadside bomb, an RPG, an ambush, the bullets cracking all around them, the reality that they are in a war, that they have suddenly been hit. No more John Wayne-Audie Murphy movie fantasies. No more false bravado, stirring words of patriotism, romantic notions of war or what it might really mean to be in combat, to sacrifice for one's country. All that means nothing now. The reality has struck, the awful, shocking and frightening truth of what it really means to be hit by a bullet, an RPG, an improvised explosive device, shrapnel, a booby trap, friendly fire. They are now in a life-and-death situation and they have suddenly come face to face with the foreign policy of their own nation. The initial shock is wearing off; the painful reality is beginning to sink in, clearly something terrible has happened, something awful and inexplicable.

All the conditioning, all the discipline, shouting, screaming, bullying and threatening verbal abuse of their boot camp drill instructors have now disappeared in this one instant, in this one damaging blow. All they want to do now is stay alive, keep breathing, somehow get out of this place anyway they can. People are dying all around them, someone has been shot and killed right next to them and behind them but all they can really think of at this moment is staying alive.

You don't think of God, or praying, or even your mother or your father. There is no time for that. Your heart is pounding. Blood is seeping out. You will always go back to that day, that moment you got hit, the day you nearly died yet somehow survived. It will be a day you will never forget--when you were trapped in that open area and could not move, when bullets were cracking all around you, when the first Marine tried to save you and was shot dead at your feet and the second, a black Marine--whom you would never see again and who would be killed later that afternoon--would carry you back under heavy fire.

You are now with other wounded all around you heading to a place where there will be help. There are people in pain and great distress, shocked and stunned, frightened beyond anything you can imagine. You are afraid to close your eyes. To close your eyes now means that you may die and never wake up. You toss and turn, your heart pounding, racked with insomnia ... and for many this will go on for months, years after they return home.

They are being put on a helicopter, with the wounded all around them. They try to stay calm. Some are amazed that they are still alive. You just have to keep trying to stay awake, make it to the next stage, keep moving toward the rear, toward another aid station, a corpsman, a doctor a nurse someone who can help you, someone who will operate and keep you alive so you can make it home, home to your backyard and your neighbors and your mother and father. To where it all began, to where it was once peaceful and safe. They just try to keep breathing because they have got to get back.

They are in the intensive-care ward now, the place where they will be operated on, and where in Vietnam a Catholic priest gave me the Last Rites. Someone is putting a mask over their faces just as they put one over mine in Da Nang in 1968. There is the swirl of darkness and soon they awaken to screams all around them. The dead and dying are everywhere. There are things here you can never forget, images and sounds and smells that you will never see on TV or read about in the newspapers. The black pilot dying next to me as the corpsman and nurse tried furiously to save him, pounding on his chest with their fists as they laughed and joked trying to keep from going insane. The Green Beret who died of spinal meningitis, the tiny Vietnamese nun handing out apples and rosary beads to the wounded, the dead being carted in and out like clockwork,19- and 20-year-olds.

There is the long flight home packed with the wounded all around you, every conceivable and horrifying wound you could imagine. Even the unconscious and brain-dead whose minds have been blown apart by bullets and shrapnel make that ride with you, because we are all going home now, back to our country. And this is only the beginning.

The frustrations, anger and rage, insomnia, nightmares, anxiety attacks, terrible restlessness and desperate need to keep moving will come later, but for now we are so thankful to have just made it out of that place, so grateful to be alive even with these grievous wounds.

I cannot help but wonder what it will be like for the young men and women wounded in Iraq. What will their homecoming be like? I feel close to them. Though many years separate us we are brothers and sisters. We have all been to the same place. For us in 1968 it was the Bronx veterans hospital paraplegic ward, overcrowded, understaffed, rats on the ward, a flood of memories and images, I can never forget; urine bags overflowing onto the floor. It seemed more like a slum than a hospital. Paralyzed men lying in their own excrement, pushing call buttons for aides who never came, wondering how our government could spend so much money (billions of dollars) on the most lethal, technologically advanced weaponry to kill and maim human beings but not be able to take care of its own wounded when they came home.

Will it be the same for them? Will they have to return to these same unspeakable conditions? Has any of it changed? I have heard that our government has already attempted to cut back millions in much needed funds for veterans hospitals--and this when thousands of wounded soldiers are returning from Iraq. Will they too be left abandoned and forgotten by a president and administration whose patriotic rhetoric does not match the needs of our wounded troops now returning? Do the American people, the president, the politicians, senators and congressmen who sent us to this war have any idea what it really means to lose an arm or a leg, to be paralyzed, to begin to cope with the psychological wounds of that war? Do they have any concept of the long-term effects of these injuries, how the struggles of the wounded are only now just beginning? How many will die young and never live out their lives because of all the stress and myriad of problems that come with sending young men and women into combat?

It is so difficult at first. You return home and both physically and emotionally don't know how you are going to live with this wound, but you just keep trying, just keep waking up to this frightening reality every morning. "My God, what has happened to me?" But you somehow get up, you somehow go on and find a way to move through each day. Even though it is impossible, you go on. Maybe there will be a day years from now, if you are lucky to live that long, when it will get better and you will not feel so overwhelmed. You must have something to hope for, some way to believe it will not always be this way. This is exactly what many of them are going through right now.

They are alone in their rooms all over this country, right now. Just as I was alone in my room in Massapequa. I know they're there--just as I was. This is the part you never see. The part that is never reported in the news. The part that the president and vice president never mention. This is the agonizing part, the lonely part, when you have to awake to the wound each morning and suddenly realize what you've lost, what is gone forever. They're out there and they have mothers and fathers, sisters and brothers, husbands and wives and children. And they're not saying much right now. Just like me they're just trying to get through each day. Trying to be brave and not cry. They still are extremely grateful to be alive, but slowly, agonizingly they are beginning to think about what has really happened to them.

What will it be like for them when one morning they suddenly find themselves naked sitting before that mirror in their room and must come face to face with their injury? I want to reach out to them. I want them to know that I've been there too. I want to just sit with them in their room and tell them that they must not give up. They must try to be patient, try to just get through each day, each morning, each afternoon any way they can. That no matter how impossible and frustrating it may seem, how painful, regardless of the anxiety attacks and nightmares and thoughts of suicide, they must not quit. Somewhere out there there will be a turning point, somewhere through this all they will find a reason to keep on living.

In the months and years that are to follow, others will be less fortunate. Young men and women who survived the battlefield, the intensive-care ward, veterans hospitals and initial homecoming will be unable to make the difficult and often agonizing adjustment.

Is this what is awaiting all of them? Is this the nightmare no one ever told them about, the part no one now wants to talk about or has the time to deal with? The car accidents, and drinking and drug overdoses, the depression, anger and rage, spousal abuse, bedsores and breakdowns, prison, homelessness, sleeping under the piers and bridges. The ones who never leave the hospital, the ones who can't hold a job, can't keep a relationship together, can't love or feel any emotions anymore, the brutal insomnia that leaves you exhausted and practically unable to function, the frightening anxiety attacks that come upon you when you least expect them, and always the dread that each day may be your last.

Marty, Billy, Bobby, Max, Tom, Washington, Pat, Joe? I knew them all. It's a long list. It's amazing that you're still alive when so many others you knew are dead, and at such a young age. Isn't all this dying supposed to happen when you're much older? Not now, not while we're so young. How come the recruiters never mentioned these things? This was never in the slick pamphlets they showed us! This should be a time of innocence, a time of joy and happiness, no cares and youthful dreams--not all these friends dying so young, all this grief and numbness, emptiness and feelings of being so lost.

The physical and psychological battles from the war in Iraq will rage on for decades, deeply impacting the lives of citizens in both our countries.

As this the 38th anniversary of my wounding in Vietnam approaches, in many ways I feel my injury in that war has been a blessing in disguise. I have been given the opportunity to move through that dark night of the soul to a new shore, to gain an understanding, a knowledge, an entirely different vision. I now believe that I have suffered for a reason and in many ways I have found that reason in my commitment to peace and nonviolence. We who have witnessed the obscenity of war and experienced its horror and terrible consequences have an obligation to rise above our pain and suffering and turn the tragedy of our lives into a triumph. I have come to believe that there is nothing in the lives of human beings more terrifying than war and nothing more important than for those of us who have experienced it to share its awful truth.

We must break this cycle of violence and begin to move in a different direction; war is not the answer, violence is not the solution. A more peaceful world is possible.

"I am the living death
The memorial day on wheels
I am your yankee doodle dandy
Your John Wayne come home
Your Fourth of July firecracker
Exploding in the grave"

WHMP 1-18-06


From:Scott
Date: Wed, 18 Jan 2006
To: Steve

Hey bro,

Since the race was this weekend and I'm still having trouble walking, I thought I'd send something that reminds me of the race.

"I've come a long way, I've come a long way...."

Man, nothing could be truer about a race in which you run in a huge circle. But, even though it felt like it at the end of the race, I had come a long way mentally.

Something happened during the run, Steve. That cloud... That despair I've been living with... I'm not feeling it. Maybe the tragedies of 2005 were affecting me more than I know. Or maybe I just needed 13.1 miles of pain to wake me up. But I feel renewed. That optimism you always say I have, it feels like it's slowly rising back to the surface.

Anyway, I don't know much about Michelle Shocked except that she's a modern folk artist and that she wrote this beautiful song about being in Los Angeles. It's true, you can drive around for an entire day in this city.... Possibly 500 miles, and you may never leave the city.

This particular recording came from an in studio radios session from a now defunct radio station that Jules and I loved back in the 90's (it's still weird to say "back in the 90's").

That there was a station out here that actually played the likes of Michelle Shocked was amazing. Of course, it only lasted a couple of years before the station was gobbled by a media conglomerate.

Enjoy the song. Have yourself a nice day. Hug your kids and wife. And remember to smile occasionally.

Best,
S

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Race day report-pt. 1

The legs felt better today. I can walk without as much of a limp. However, I am having extreme foot problems with my right foot. Yet another sign that my running days must be put behind me. I have received some very encouraging emails and letters over the past week. It was these kind words that helped keep me going on Sunday. Oh, there were a couple of times when I thought I might not make it, but I had the voice of my darling wife and the companionship of a new friend to guide me through the race.

On Saturday night, Beth and I went to the dinner being held by the CF Foundation in honor of us runners and we just happened to run into Nancy Seid, a woman who lives in Los Angeles and has a son, 13, who also has CF. Strange how we just happened to meet each other in the parking lot. This is a woman that our coach, Robert, suggested I meet up with because we shared a similar pace. Turns out, it was a great suggestion.

This was Nancy's first race and she was looking to just complete it. This was my last race, and I was looking for the same thing. We met up Sunday morning and she was kind enough to drive Beth and me to the starting line. After milling around for an hour and enduring a horrid rendition of the national anthem (sorry to the woman who sang it, but seriously, when you change key in the middle of the song, you've ruined the song), the race began.

We said goodbye to Beth and started running at a 3/1 pace. This was perfect for me because I felt very good early in the run. There was some stiffness, but I didn't think it would be a difficult run. Nancy and I commenced talking about our lives and I was interested to hear what it was like for her, being a parent of an older CF patient. We spoke about CF for a couple of miles, then gravitated towards writing. Turns out she is a writer and has had similar experiences with Hollywood types that I have.

That particular part of our conversation lasted for four miles, I think. That was what got me through some of the rougher stages of the race. That day, although it was cold early, the temperature rose quickly and I shed my clothes one shirt at a time until I was just in the singlet and shorts. But it was a gorgeous day to run. Perfect running conditions. Most heartening were the numerous volunteers cheering everyone on, including a nice size group of CF Foundation volunteers. That was great to see.

As I referred to, Julie called several times during the run. I can't tell you how totally frickin' awesome it was to hear her voice and the excitement coming through that tiny cell phone ear speaker. I wish everyone had someone that loved them that deeply. I am so damn fortunate. Jules checked in on me every three miles, it seemed, making sure I was doing alright. And Nancy made sure I did okay out in the race.

There was one thing I took away from running with Nancy. It was her strength and her positive, life affirming attitude toward life. Personally, I have let the negative statistics of this dreaded disease grip me too many times in the past four years. Fear. Anguish. They take hold of me and squeeze the life out of me. What good am I to Jacob (or Sophie, too) if I can't provide a positive attitude for them.
Nancy doesn't believe in the damned statistics. She won't look at them. She repeated something Julie and I have said to each other many times: The current life expectancy is based on someone who was born 35 years ago... before they had the breakthrough medicines and treatments they have now. CF patients are living longer and will continue to live longer.

No, I'm not living in fantasy land. I will never forget that this is a life threatening illness. But we have to think positively. Maybe it's not we. I do. I have to start living and thinking positively again. I need to shove the dark clouds aside. My son is going to live a long life, damn it.

This race, it changed me. I had some kind of breakthrough. Or maybe I just broke free. I don't know how long this will last, but it feels right to be thinking optimistically again. It feels like me.

At the end of the race, Nancy called home and spoke to her 13 year old son. She came back with tears in her eyes. She's lived with this for 9 years longer than us and it still brings tears to her eyes. The love for your child can make you do anything. Nancy completed 13.1 miles for her son. And so did I.

Aloha
The legs felt better today. I can walk without as much of a limp. However, I am having extreme foot problems with my right foot. Yet another sign that my running days must be put behind me. I have received some very encouraging emails and letters over the past week. It was these kind words that helped keep me going on Sunday. Oh, there were a couple of times when I thought I might not make it, but I had the voice of my darling wife and the companionship of a new friend to guide me through the race.

On Saturday night, Beth and I went to the dinner being held by the CF Foundation in honor of us runners and we just happened to run into Nancy Seid, a woman who lives in Los Angeles and has a son, 13, who also has CF. Strange how we just happened to meet each other in the parking lot. This is a woman that our coach, Robert, suggested I meet up with because we shared a similar pace. Turns out, it was a great suggestion.

This was Nancy's first race and she was looking to just complete it. This was my last race, and I was looking for the same thing. We met up Sunday morning and she was kind enough to drive Beth and me to the starting line. After milling around for an hour and enduring a horrid rendition of the national anthem (sorry to the woman who sang it, but seriously, when you change key in the middle of the song, you've ruined the song), the race began.

We said goodbye to Beth and started running at a 3/1 pace. This was perfect for me because I felt very good early in the run. There was some stiffness, but I didn't think it would be a difficult run. Nancy and I commenced talking about our lives and I was interested to hear what it was like for her, being a parent of an older CF patient. We spoke about CF for a couple of miles, then gravitated towards writing. Turns out she is a writer and has had similar experiences with Hollywood types that I have.

That particular part of our conversation lasted for four miles, I think. That was what got me through some of the rougher stages of the race. That day, although it was cold early, the temperature rose quickly and I shed my clothes one shirt at a time until I was just in the singlet and shorts. But it was a gorgeous day to run. Perfect running conditions. Most heartening were the numerous volunteers cheering everyone on, including a nice size group of CF Foundation volunteers. That was great to see.

As I referred to, Julie called several times during the run. I can't tell you how totally frickin' awesome it was to hear her voice and the excitement coming through that tiny cell phone ear speaker. I wish everyone had someone that loved them that deeply. I am so damn fortunate. Jules checked in on me every three miles, it seemed, making sure I was doing alright. And Nancy made sure I did okay out in the race.

There was one thing I took away from running with Nancy. It was her strength and her positive, life affirming attitude toward life. Personally, I have let the negative statistics of this dreaded disease grip me too many times in the past four years. Fear. Anguish. They take hold of me and squeeze the life out of me. What good am I to Jacob (or Sophie, too) if I can't provide a positive attitude for them.
Nancy doesn't believe in the damned statistics. She won't look at them. She repeated something Julie and I have said to each other many times: The current life expectancy is based on someone who was born 35 years ago... before they had the breakthrough medicines and treatments they have now. CF patients are living longer and will continue to live longer.

No, I'm not living in fantasy land. I will never forget that this is a life threatening illness. But we have to think positively. Maybe it's not we. I do. I have to start living and thinking positively again. I need to shove the dark clouds aside. My son is going to live a long life, damn it.

This race, it changed me. I had some kind of breakthrough. Or maybe I just broke free. I don't know how long this will last, but it feels right to be thinking optimistically again. It feels like me.

At the end of the race, Nancy called home and spoke to her 13 year old son. She came back with tears in her eyes. She's lived with this for 9 years longer than us and it still brings tears to her eyes. The love for your child can make you do anything. Nancy completed 13.1 miles for her son. And so did I.

Aloha

Monday, January 16, 2006

It's been along day. My thighs and hamstrings, and just about every inch of my legs is reminding me that I have not run since Thanksgiving. And yet, my knees have given me no trouble. Amazing.

Details about the race day will come tomorrow after I've had some time to put them into a coherent structure, but I will say this about getting through the race with no knee problems:

I could say that it was the new knee support I bought on Saturday at the race expo. Perhaps the specific design of it and the added support under my knee cap were what I've been missing all along. Or...

Perhaps it was really God watching out for me. Sure, my legs are aching like I haven't run in almost two months. But maybe the divine one was looking out for me yesterday, as if to say, "You're already going to be hurting, and you did complete the race. I'll help you out this time and take away the pain you were expecting."

Maybe that's too mystical for some of you. If God isn't your thing... well then, you can go with the former.

As for me, I'm sticking with the latter.

I also think he's telling me, "Look, I gave you this last race. Now give up the running, dude. You have to be able to walk for your kids."

That's all for tonight. I can't wait to tell you about the race and the wonderful experience I had.

Aloha

I made it!

It's been along day. My thighs and hamstrings, and just about every inch of my legs is reminding me that I have not run since Thanksgiving. And yet, my knees have given me no trouble. Amazing.

Details about the race day will come tomorrow after I've had some time to put them into a coherent structure, but I will say this about getting through the race with no knee problems:

I could say that it was the new knee support I bought on Saturday at the race expo. Perhaps the specific design of it and the added support under my knee cap were what I've been missing all along. Or...

Perhaps it was really God watching out for me. Sure, my legs are aching like I haven't run in almost two months. But maybe the divine one was looking out for me yesterday, as if to say, "You're already going to be hurting, and you did complete the race. I'll help you out this time and take away the pain you were expecting."

Maybe that's too mystical for some of you. If God isn't your thing... well then, you can go with the former.

As for me, I'm sticking with the latter.

I also think he's telling me, "Look, I gave you this last race. Now give up the running, dude. You have to be able to walk for your kids."

That's all for tonight. I can't wait to tell you about the race and the wonderful experience I had.

Aloha

Sunday, January 15, 2006

Into the fire...

It's 5:30 n the morning. I've been up since 4:30. The hotel bed was murder on my back. Add to that the cramped conditions of having four people in it and you can pretty much figure out how well I slept. It doesn't matter, though, I got plenty of sleep the night before.

I just finished my complimentary breakfast and was about to head back when I saw this computer in the lobby. Last night I met a woman from L.A. who has a 13 year old son, named Jacob, who also has CF. We're going to run the half marathon together this morning. Luckily, the rain has let up and it doesn't feel too cold. I've decided to go with the shorts and skip the sweat pants. I mean, come on, it's only 13 miles, right? It won't take me that long.

When I got up this morning, I found three little notes that Sophie and Jake had written for me last night. Sophie wrote, "Dear Daddy, Go Daddy, Go! We love you...Mommy, Sophie and Jacob." Then she wrote a page of hearts and "x's" and "o's". Jakes was a page a squigglies since he doesn't know how to write yet.

I have the greatest family. When the time comes that I'm feeling weak out there today, I'll have their love to carry me through it all.

Listening to Bruce at this very moment. Can't think of a better way to end this entry....

May your strength give us strength
May your faith give us faith
May your hope give us hope
May your love bring us love


Today is for Jake. It's not about me, it's about the cause.

Aloha
It's 5:30 n the morning. I've been up since 4:30. The hotel bed was murder on my back. Add to that the cramped conditions of having four people in it and you can pretty much figure out how well I slept. It doesn't matter, though, I got plenty of sleep the night before.

I just finished my complimentary breakfast and was about to head back when I saw this computer in the lobby. Last night I met a woman from L.A. who has a 13 year old son, named Jacob, who also has CF. We're going to run the half marathon together this morning. Luckily, the rain has let up and it doesn't feel too cold. I've decided to go with the shorts and skip the sweat pants. I mean, come on, it's only 13 miles, right? It won't take me that long.

When I got up this morning, I found three little notes that Sophie and Jake had written for me last night. Sophie wrote, "Dear Daddy, Go Daddy, Go! We love you...Mommy, Sophie and Jacob." Then she wrote a page of hearts and "x's" and "o's". Jakes was a page a squigglies since he doesn't know how to write yet.

I have the greatest family. When the time comes that I'm feeling weak out there today, I'll have their love to carry me through it all.

Listening to Bruce at this very moment. Can't think of a better way to end this entry....

May your strength give us strength
May your faith give us faith
May your hope give us hope
May your love bring us love


Today is for Jake. It's not about me, it's about the cause.

Aloha

Saturday, January 14, 2006

Rain has hit and our trip to Legoland was aborted. The trip to Carlsbad will take place later this afternoon. I'm starting to feel some butterfiles about tomorrow. I guess that's a positive thing. Oh, and we have reached our goal of $7000 for the fundraiser, just under the wire. Wasn't sure we were going to make it and I think that was bumming me out a little bit. Now I can relax even more for the race.

Mom and Dad are in town, so I'm not going to write much more. Hope the rain lets up by tomorrow morning. Nothing worse than having to run in soggy shoes.

Aloha

When the rain comes...

Rain has hit and our trip to Legoland was aborted. The trip to Carlsbad will take place later this afternoon. I'm starting to feel some butterfiles about tomorrow. I guess that's a positive thing. Oh, and we have reached our goal of $7000 for the fundraiser, just under the wire. Wasn't sure we were going to make it and I think that was bumming me out a little bit. Now I can relax even more for the race.

Mom and Dad are in town, so I'm not going to write much more. Hope the rain lets up by tomorrow morning. Nothing worse than having to run in soggy shoes.

Aloha

Friday, January 13, 2006


We're winding down the week and getting ready for our trip to Carlsbad tomorrow. The weather forecast predicts rain both days of the weekend. What is it with me running races and crummy weather. Either it's too hot (Honolulu), unseasonably cold (San Francisco) or frigidly cold (OC last year... and perhaps this weekend). Whatever. It'll all be over on Sunday and I can begin my search for a new fundraiser.

No Way Out to the Weekend


We're winding down the week and getting ready for our trip to Carlsbad tomorrow. The weather forecast predicts rain both days of the weekend. What is it with me running races and crummy weather. Either it's too hot (Honolulu), unseasonably cold (San Francisco) or frigidly cold (OC last year... and perhaps this weekend). Whatever. It'll all be over on Sunday and I can begin my search for a new fundraiser.

Listening to the Eagles at the moment, feeling kind of mellow. I have this love hate feeling about the Eagles. I really love some of their music (especially their early stuff), but, man, do they act like arrogant jerks sometimes. That's just me, though.

So, my movie this week was "No Way Out", from 1987, starring Kevin Costner, Gene Hackman, Will Patton (underrated) and Sean Young. It's an adaptation of "The Big Clock", although only in spirit (if you ask me). The performances all hold up, especially Sean Young. I don't think she was ever as good as she was in this one. Her character is so full of life and seemingly in control of her life, even though she's Hackman's mistress. Hackman is fine. Pretty standard stuff from him. Costner was just beginning to become a star, so he has most of the same mannerisms he had in "The Untouchables"- heroic, at times a little stiff. Nothing that would lead you to believe he could be so damn good in "Bull Durham (just a year later).

It's really two movies. The love affair between Costner and Young takes up the first hour. Then it becomes a "thriller" (which is where it pulls from "The Big Clock"). Overall, the movie remains enjoyable, save for Maurice Jarre's dated synthesizer score.

There you go, my mini film review for this week.

The next couple days I will have to keep notes on the side and will make entries on Sunday.

Aloha
Beth and her family arrived to L.A. last night. I amazed that the weekend we planned so many months ago in August is finally here. As I've said before, I'm thrilled that they have traveled all this way to be as one family in the fight against CF. I'm a little surprised that I don't have butterflies for the race. No fear. Truly, I am not at all apprehensive about running on Sunday. Will my overall time be better than previous races? Sure. Right. Uh huh.

Not.

Do I care? Not in the least. Perhaps this is the first race for me in which the cause is more important than the actual moment. To explain-- the past races were always about raising money and awareness, of course. And these efforts went on up until race day. But on race day, it became about me. It became about getting my best time and just completing the thing. Not this weekend. The cause is more important than the actual moment.

Aloha

entry for 1/12/06


Beth and her family arrived to L.A. tonight. I amazed that the weekend we planned so many months ago in August is finally here. As I've said before, I'm thrilled that they have traveled all this way to be as one family in the fight against CF. I'm a little surprised that I don't have butterflies for the race. No fear. Truly, I am not at all apprehensive about running on Sunday. Will my overall time be better than previous races? Sure. Right. Uh huh.

Not.

Do I care? Not in the least. Perhaps this is the first race for me in which the cause is more important than the actual moment. To explain-- the past races were always about raising money and awareness, of course. And these efforts went on up until race day. But on race day, it became about me. It became about getting my best time and just completing the thing. Not this weekend. The cause is more important than the actual moment.

I'm fried. I stayed up until 1:30 last night revising a spec script I then submitted to the story editor of the series I am working on. Although excited about the prospect of being given the opportunity to write a freelance script, I'm trying to remain realistic. I haven't written much comedy and the little I have done was years ago. So, that would be a major hurdle. Plus, experience is a factor. Still, no hard feelings. The two writers I have become friendly with are very supportive. Just being able to pick their brains has been helpful.

Aloha

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Welcome to radio WHMP


From: Scott
Date: Wed, 11 Jan 2006
To: Steve
Subject: Hump Day 1-11-06

In light of the scandal sweeping through Washington, and the house of cards that may eventually fall down, I thought this classic from Aretha (that's Ms. Franklin, to you and me) seemed appropriate.

Okay, at least the title is appropriate. The lyrics, on the other hand, are something different altogether.

But, hey, we're not about literal interpretations here at WHMP ("the home of the hump day song, every Wednesday afternoon!"). We just aim to entertain. And sometimes make your think. Okay, we’re here to entertain and sometimes make you think. Occasionally we provide therapeutic relief.

Okay, we’re here to entertain, sometimes make you think and occasionally therapeutic relief.

And nostalgia. Can’t forget nostalgia.

We’re here to entertain, sometimes make you think, occasional therapeutic relief, and nostalgia.

Oh, and provoke some political debate.

We’re here to entertain, sometimes make you think, occasional therapeutic relief, nostalgia and provoke some political debate.

Which leads us back to the house that Jack built. If it all should come falling down, these politicians have no one to blame but themselves.

Rock on!

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

A better day than yesterday. Busy. Jake did a lot better at pre-school and opened up with the class and his teacher. I nearly cried when I heard that he sat down at circle time and showed off some of the things he had brought with him (for comfort). It's going to be hard for awhile. And Jules... I wish I could comfort her better. She misses him so badly during the day.

A few more donations are straggling in for this weekend's race and the end of the fundraiser. There are 30 people supposedly running for CF. That is so awesome. I am starting to get a little excited about running. Not worried at all. Must be Julie's confidence rubbing off on me.

So far, I've only kept, like, 5 of my New Year's Resolutions. Can I just tell you how difficult it is to drink 8 frickin' glasses of water a day. And don't even get me started about trying to consume all of them between 11:50 and midnight. I have been consistent about the writing, though. And I am anxious about an idea I thought up last week. I'm beginning the research tonight.

That's it for today.

Aloha

Monday, January 09, 2006

Not a bad day, all things considered. But it was a tough morning with Jake being dropped off at pre-school. He cried, a lot. And Julie was in tears. It's not going to be easy. And he won't eat. That's the issue that stresses me out the most. I don't want him to be hungry. Is it a trust factor with other people? Is it his enzymes making his stomach upset? Is he just being a stubborn 4 year old? I don't have an answer.

The race is this Saturday and I don't have any nervous energy. Julie has complete confidence that I'll have no trouble. I wish I was that confident. Although I know I'll complete the race, how my knee will feel throughout the day may be another issue.

Still, it's going to be great to have so many family members to cheer us on. I only wish I could have raised more money. That's like the nagging part in my stomach right now. I'm not sure I tried hard enough to raise money this year. Maybe I started too late. Not sure.

I will be glad when it's over though. It's one of those things that's been hanging over me the past couple of months. Once the race is done, I can relax a little (and write some thank you cards) and focus on writing for awhile.

Of course, the Great Strides walk is right around the corner, isn't it?

Aloha
Not a bad day, all things considered. But it was a tough morning with Jake being dropped off at pre-school. He cried, a lot. And Julie was in tears. It's not going to be easy. And he won't eat. That's the issue that stresses me out the most. I don't want him to be hungry. Is it a trust factor with other people? Is it his enzymes making his stomach upset? Is he just being a stubborn 4 year old? I don't have an answer.

The race is this Saturday and I don't have any nervous energy. Julie has complete confidence that I'll have no trouble. I wish I was that confident. Although I know I'll complete the race, how my knee will feel throughout the day may be another issue.

Still, it's going to be great to have so many family members to cheer us on. I only wish I could have raised more money. That's like the nagging part in my stomach right now. I'm not sure I tried hard enough to raise money this year. Maybe I started too late. Not sure.

I will be glad when it's over though. It's one of those things that's been hanging over me the past couple of months. Once the race is done, I can relax a little (and write some thank you cards) and focus on writing for awhile.

Of course, the Great Strides walk is right around the corner, isn't it?

Aloha

Sunday, January 08, 2006

Sunday Night Blues

So I'm laying in the middle of the living room with a two ton elephant standing on my chest, wondering, "How did this day turn so dark so fast."

Sophie's party last night was wonderful. She and her little girl friends all had a great time. At times, the laughter and screaming was like a group of banshees... But in a good way. A fun way. Julie did a fantastic job entertaining them most of the night. I checked in and kept Jake occupied with "Spider Man" on the mini DVD player.

Then, after waking up around 6 am, they played for another good four hours. Amazing, the amount of energy they had. Finally, I took Sophie to see "Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe" with Max, Zach and Kyra (who had come down the mountain for the party).

So how did I end up curled in a ball in the living room? Well, I shouldn't have done the bills. The hoolidays have caught up with us. I get so stressed about money and I sometimes feel like it's a boulder I can;'t get out from under. I just feel so much dread and I'm tired of it. I tired of being so stressed. I'm tired of being bitter. But most of all, I just so damn tired of being scared.

Julie is torn about sending Jake to pre-school beginning tomorrow. He's nervous and I know that she is very sad that he's starting some kind of schooling away from home. Their lives will never be the same. It will never be just the two of them alone all of the time anymore. Even as I write this, I'm wiping tears away because it means that Jake is getting older.

There's a part of me that wants him to always remain our little boy. But there's also this part of me who wants him to grow up. I want Jake to grow old, to be a hundred. It's a defiant part of me. I want to prove all of these CF experts wrong. And I want to prove it to them sooner than later. I want him to grow up to be stronger and healthier than they ever could have expected. That's the optimistic side of me. That's the part of me that prays for the best. And then there's the other side... the darker side...

Maybe it's the reality of the race being this week and I'm just being sensitive. I'm burnt out. I need to step away from the big fundraising for a bit and get some perspective. But doing that will bring the guilt. Guilt that U''m not doing enough. Guilt that I should be helping find a damn cure. I hate the guilt, almost as much as I hate the dread.

Tonight, it's a no win situation. I'm going to have to go to bed and curl up next to Jake and pray for his little body to stay strong and healthy forever.

Aloha.
So I'm laying in the middle of the living room with a two ton elephant standing on my chest, wondering, "How did this day turn so dark so fast."

Sophie's party last night was wonderful. She and her little girl friends all had a great time. At times, the laughter and screaming was like a group of banshees... But in a good way. A fun way. Julie did a fantastic job entertaining them most of the night. I checked in and kept Jake occupied with "Spider Man" on the mini DVD player.

Then, after waking up around 6 am, they played for another good four hours. Amazing, the amount of energy they had. Finally, I took Sophie to see "Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe" with Max, Zach and Kyra (who had come down the mountain for the party).

So how did I end up curled in a ball in the living room? Well, I shouldn't have done the bills. The hoolidays have caught up with us. I get so stressed about money and I sometimes feel like it's a boulder I can;'t get out from under. I just feel so much dread and I'm tired of it. I tired of being so stressed. I'm tired of being bitter. But most of all, I just so damn tired of being scared.

Julie is torn about sending Jake to pre-school beginning tomorrow. He's nervous and I know that she is very sad that he's starting some kind of schooling away from home. Their lives will never be the same. It will never be just the two of them alone all of the time anymore. Even as I write this, I'm wiping tears away because it means that Jake is getting older.

There's a part of me that wants him to always remain our little boy. But there's also this part of me who wants him to grow up. I want Jake to grow old, to be a hundred. It's a defiant part of me. I want to prove all of these CF experts wrong. And I want to prove it to them sooner than later. I want him to grow up to be stronger and healthier than they ever could have expected. That's the optimistic side of me. That's the part of me that prays for the best. And then there's the other side... the darker side...

Maybe it's the reality of the race being this week and I'm just being sensitive. I'm burnt out. I need to step away from the big fundraising for a bit and get some perspective. But doing that will bring the guilt. Guilt that U''m not doing enough. Guilt that I should be helping find a damn cure. I hate the guilt, almost as much as I hate the dread.

Tonight, it's a no win situation. I'm going to have to go to bed and curl up next to Jake and pray for his little body to stay strong and healthy forever.

Aloha.

Saturday, January 07, 2006

Just a quick note because we have a group of Sophie's friends coming over for a slumber party tonight. This is very surreal to me. I can recall be 7 with vivid detail and I also remember having someone sleep over our house for the first time (it was Matt). So to be a part of Sophie's experience is... is making me feel old.

There are many times during the week when I will have a thought and catch myself, "wait a minute... I'm 36. When did that happen?" So often, I feel and think like I'm still 18. So, to have concrete reminders like children's birthdays, sleepovers and what grade they're is very humbling.

Anyway, that's it for today. Have to go deal with a balloon skirmish in the living room.

Aloha

Friday, January 06, 2006

I had thought about reviewing the two movies I saw this week. (CAT IN THE HAT, starring Mike Myers--dreadful. SPIRITED AWAY--stunning). However, I spoke with my sister Beth this evening and learned that one of my nephew's friends died this week from bacterial meningitis. Zyg is Sophie's age and to have to handle the concept of someone your own age dying is beyond my comprehension.

And Beth knew the child as well, so she is obviously shook up about it too. Any attempt to be glib wouldn't feel right tonight.

We're going to see Beth and her family next week when they come out to participate in the Carlsbad half marathon with me. I'm still very excited that she's a part of this. Sometimes, because she and Heidi are on the other side of the country, I wonder if they feel left out. Sure, giving large donations can make you feel good, but I feel like being with the person you're helping can be so uplifting. I hope that Beth, Tom and Zyg feel that next week.

Aloha

Thursday, January 05, 2006


Just wanted to post a current picture of Sophie and her brother, taken over the holidays.

Aloha

Happy Birthday, Sophie!



It’s Sophie’s birthday!

This picture is nearly four years old. Yet, it's one of my favorites of her from when she was still in daycare.

7 years. How did that happen? When I watch her, she’s grown up so much, maybe more than a typical 7-year old should be asked to. And yet, she still has her little girl ways. While she plays games with her dolls and feed them bottles and gives them naps, she still sleeps with a blankie and can’t get through the night in her own bed.

I still recall the events surrounding her birth. Julie and I spent the day and night before she was born in the hospital. Jules had been dehydrated from a bout with the flu the day before and her doctor wanted her admitted to get fluids back in her body. When Sophie’s heartbeat wouldn’t stabilize, the doctor decided to induce labor. That was a long day, and I wasn’t the one in labor. Julie was miserable. How do women do it? She got no sleep, was in agonizing pain, couldn’t lie down for very long, and there was nothing good on television (that’s a joke).

The next day (the 5th), the doctor visited and determined that Julie had a partial Placenta Abruptio and that she wanted to do an emergency cesarean section. It was hectic, scary, and confusing for a couple of hours, but in the end, Sophie was delivered and in our arms in recovery.

Budd, Karyn and Max were there. My mom and Dad drove in. And Julie’s brother Michael (who, at the time, was living in California) was on hand as well.

The night, after our family left the hospital, Julie and I were getting ready to try and sleep, I happened to look down in Sophie’s cradle and noticed she was having difficulty breathing. Earlier that day, the same thing had occurred and our nurse instructed me on how to help her cough up some of the saliva she’d swallowed. After several attempts, she wasn’t getting any better. Like the hand of God was there with us, our nurse happened to check in before she left for the night. She took over for me, and after two attempts, she ran out of our room calling out “I‘m taking this baby to the ICU.”

After a moment to let this sink in, I wandered away from my bedridden wife to find the ICU. I remember walking blindly down the long white, sterile hallways and an eternity passing before I found the secured doors for that room. You have to buzz into this room and when I spoke through the intercom my voice sounded like someone else’s. This wasn’t happening to me. She was just born. The doors swooshed open and a nurse intercepted me, leading me into a small waiting area. However, I caught a glimpse of the doctor and nurses gathered around my tiny infant, working furiously to revive her. What must have been five minutes felt like five hours. A television was on in the background. I sat there staring at it, not knowing what to do... not knowing how to act. One thing that never entered my mind, though, was whether she’d live or die. She couldn’t die. I wouldn’t let her.

Finally, the doctor came in and was very pleasant. “She gave us quite a scare”, he told me, with a slight smile on his face. He must have been happy to save a life. He led me to Sophie, who was now on monitors and in a special, Plexiglas case. This wasn’t real. Those baby classes never brought up this scenario. I looked down at her helpless little body and was numb.

I returned to Julie’s side and we prayed together. I prayed all night. Was it a heart defect? Were her lungs all right? At exactly midnight, the clock in our room stopped. We both froze. I raced back to the ICU to make sure all was well. Sophie was still fine. It didn’t sink in until I called my brother to tell him what happened. As soon as he heard my voice he excitedly asked, “What’s happened?”

I lost it and could barely get the words out. Sophie nearly died.

The next morning, we went to ICU and she was doing well. Sadly, they began her on a series of antibiotics that needed to run their course over 10 days. So, we were unable to take her home with us that day or the next week. We would make round the clock trips to the hospital to feed her (even in the middle of the night). And she responded wonderfully. When we finally got her home to our 2 bedroom in North Hollywood, the path to parenthood felt complete. We truly were a family.

In a strange way, what happened with Sophie prepared us for what we would go through when Jake was born.

I sometimes wonder if the ordeal she went through changed her or affected her in some way. I know it altered my view of how fragile life is and how we need to appreciate the loved one’s and good fortunes we all receive. Sophie is a special little girl with an enormous amount of love to share with everyone. I love her dearly and I am so proud to be her daddy.

It’s Sophie’s birthday. 7 years. How did that happen? When I watch her, she’s grown up so much, maybe more than a typical 7-year old should be asked to. And yet, she still has her little girl ways. While she plays games with her dolls and feed them bottles and gives them naps, she still sleeps with a blankie and can’t get through the night in her own bed.

The picture is one of my favorites from when she was a lot younger.

I still recall the events surrounding her birth. Julie and I spent the day and night before she was born in the hospital. Jules had been dehydrated from a bout with the flu the day before and her doctor wanted her admitted to get fluids back in her body. When Sophie’s heartbeat wouldn’t stabilize, the doctor decided to induce labor. That was a long day, and I wasn’t the one in labor. Julie was miserable. How do women do it? She got no sleep, was in agonizing pain, couldn’t lie down for very long, and there was nothing good on television (that’s a joke).

The next day (the 5th), the doctor visited and determined that Julie had a partial Placenta Abruptio and that she wanted to do an emergency cesarean section. It was hectic, scary, and confusing for a couple of hours, but in the end, Sophie was delivered and in our arms in recovery.

Budd, Karyn and Max were there. My mom and Dad drove in. And Julie’s brother Michael (who, at the time, was living in California) was on hand as well.

The night, after our family left the hospital, Julie and I were getting ready to try and sleep, I happened to look down in Sophie’s cradle and noticed she was having difficulty breathing. Earlier that day, the same thing had occurred and our nurse instructed me on how to help her cough up some of the saliva she’d swallowed. After several attempts, she wasn’t getting any better. Like the hand of God was there with us, our nurse happened to check in before she left for the night. She took over for me, and after two attempts, she ran out of our room calling out “I‘m taking this baby to the ICU.”

After a moment to let this sink in, I wandered away from my bedridden wife to find the ICU. I remember walking blindly down the long white, sterile hallways and an eternity passing before I found the secured doors for that room. You have to buzz into this room and when I spoke through the intercom my voice sounded like someone else’s. This wasn’t happening to me. She was just born. The doors swooshed open and a nurse intercepted me, leading me into a small waiting area. However, I caught a glimpse of the doctor and nurses gathered around my tiny infant, working furiously to revive her. What must have been five minutes felt like five hours. A television was on in the background. I sat there staring at it, not knowing what to do... not knowing how to act. One thing that never entered my mind, though, was whether she’d live or die. She couldn’t die. I wouldn’t let her.

Finally, the doctor came in and was very pleasant. “She gave us quite a scare”, he told me, with a slight smile on his face. He must have been happy to save a life. He led me to Sophie, who was now on monitors and in a special, Plexiglas case. This wasn’t real. Those baby classes never brought up this scenario. I looked down at her helpless little body and was numb.

I returned to Julie’s side and we prayed together. I prayed all night. Was it a heart defect? Were her lungs all right? At exactly midnight, the clock in our room stopped. We both froze. I raced back to the ICU to make sure all was well. Sophie was still fine. It didn’t sink in until I called my brother to tell him what happened. As soon as he heard my voice he excitedly asked, “What’s happened?”

I lost it and could barely get the words out. Sophie nearly died.

The next morning, we went to ICU and she was doing well. Sadly, they began her on a series of antibiotics that needed to run their course over 10 days. So, we were unable to take her home with us that day or the next week. We would make round the clock trips to the hospital to feed her (even in the middle of the night). And she responded wonderfully. When we finally got her home to our 2 bedroom in North Hollywood, the path to parenthood felt complete. We truly were a family.

In a strange way, what happened with Sophie prepared us for what we would go through when Jake was born.

I sometimes wonder if the ordeal she went through changed her or affected her in some way. I know it altered my view of how fragile life is and how we need to appreciate the loved one’s and good fortunes we all receive. Sophie is a special little girl with an enormous amount of love to share with everyone. I love her dearly and I am so proud to be her daddy.


Happy birthday, Sophie.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Hump Day Song 1-4-06


A brief note…

Every Wednesday for the past year and a half, I’ve sent my buddy, Steve, a song of the week. It began on a whim, then became something altogether different once the 2004 election approached. Me being all “intellectual”, I tried to find something thematic that tied into the news of the day. As the past year stretched along, I kept sending the songs, which often lead to the two us conversing on everything from politics to our days growing up in Cleveland.

I checked with Steve and he was kind enough to allow me to reproduce our emails on this blog. So, without further ado, here is the first “Hump Day Song” for 2006… (and if I ever figure out how to post the song on the blog, I will do so… at least for a couple of days).—S


-----Original Message-----
From: Scott Malchus
Sent: Wednesday, January 04, 2006
To: Steve
Subject: New Year hump day

Steve,

After our discussion about the artistic merits of Van Halen's "Jump" and "Right Now", I nearly sent you both songs just to be funny. However, better judgment prevailed and I decided on something worthy of our VH adoration.

Here is an entry from allmusic.com about today's selection:

“Although Van Halen were enjoying an enormous amount of commercial success by 1981, not all was happy in the VH camp. While the public believed that the euphoric, party-hearty antics of their live show spilled into their personal lives, this proved not to be case. Eddie Van Halen was feeling frustrated due to the group's unwillingness to branch out musically as much as he desired, resulting in the group's darkest album, Fair Warning. Unlike Van Halen's other David Lee Roth -era albums, not a single party anthem was included -- in its place was an unmistakable feeling of strife and friction, both lyrically and musically. The album opener, "Mean Street," contains a furious guitar intro by Eddie before leading into one of VH's funkiest grooves.”

In my opinion, “Mean Street” is one of VH’s best songs. Period. It’s exclusion from either of the “Best of” cd’s is a heinous oversight by the record execs and the VH camp. After Fair Warning, I think the writing was on the wall for the band. Diver Down, is a pure party album that barely clocks in at 30 minutes (and it’s half cover songs). And 1984 contained the keyboard driven sound that Ed wanted (and embraced once Roth was out of the picture).

Now, my favorite moment in this kick ass song comes right before the guitar solo when Ed goes all “wah wah” with his axe. Roth calls out, “Dance baby!” and I can only laugh at him lightening the mood, referring to the guitar riff as some kind of disco funk groove. I also think it should be noted that the lyrics to this song are, perhaps, Roth’s most mature (ever). The mood and theme of “Mean Streets” make it a song that would feel right at home next to something more “substantial”, say, Springsteen's “Murder Incorporated”.

Stand up and kick the computer screen over, Steve. It’s time to ROCK!

S

PS- Okay, don’t really kick over the screen. I don’t want you to get fired.

From: Steve
Sent: Wednesday, January 04, 2006
To: Scott Malchus

This is, by light years, the most intelligent analysis of a VH song I've ever encountered. I always placed this album well down my VH list, precisely because it had some semblance of complexity -- not that I knew what that meant at the time. Plainly not what I was looking for when I reached for VH. I mean, if you want complexity in 1985, you can just reach for Georgia Satellites. In retrospect, of course, you're absolutely right. But if Diver Down is lame (and it is), and 1984 isn't full-throttle Roth, this is a band of decidedly limited achievement. What distinguishes them from Motley Crue, again? Poison?

By the way, I got your email reminder about the marathon. Marianne and I have discussed our need to sit down and write this check on half-a-dozen occasions, and neither of us has executed. I'm traveling on business starting first thing tomorrow, but I'll make sure this gets down within the week. I'm truly sorry.

Steve

From: Scott Malchus
Sent: Wednesday, January 04, 2006
To: Steve

No apology necessary. I understand what having a family, job and the holidays can do to you. And it’s not like you haven’t given very generously in the past. No sweat. Whatever you can give. Thank you!

As for VH.. I believe what rose them above the mainstream rock bands of the late 70’s (Journey, REO, Styx, etc) and the hair bands of the 80’s was Ed. Back then, he was the greatest living guitarist. Even if you didn’t like their music, you had to respect Ed. Sadly, he’s diminished over the years. I don’t know if we should be spending this much time on VH. I mean, their lead singer ran around in leather chaps with fringes.

From: Steve
Sent: Wednesday, January 04, 2006
To: Scott Malchus

"I don’t know if we should be spending this much time on VH. I mean, their lead singer ran around in leather chaps with fringes."

PRECISELY the reason to discuss VH. Don't you think he took the Mick Jagger-syle persona to new heights? Perhaps unmatched? And married it to real athleticism with those leaps? I think Diamond Dave gets short shrift -- even if he's a complete idiot meat head.

I think there's an argument that Ed has diminished because his signature was playing fast -- hard to keep that up in your 40s and 50s, unless your name is Oscar Peterson.

From: Scott Malchus
Sent: Wednesday, January 04, 2006
To: Steve

Well, Ed’s talent has diminished because he likes the bottle. And unlike the aged guitar legends who found ways to make their instruments wail with pain and anguish, Ed continues to try and play fast. As for DLR, he was a real showman, taking the reins from Freddie Mercury. I guess you’re right; this type of discussion is worthy of a band like Van Halen. We should submit our comments to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. I believe that VH and several other mainstream rockers deserve entry to the museum.

I would also add Buddy Rich to that short list of musicians able to maintain their stature (and velocity) well into their senior citizenry.