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Saturday, May 1, 2010

I’m Dreaming even though I’m grieving…

     “Grief is messy.” (Quote from We are Marshall, the movie). We all face loss. We all grieve differently. We all have pain and how we respond to the loss is an individual thing. The loss of a loved one is different for all of us. People, places, pets, dreams, and things in our lives come and go. Each of these losses affects us in both positive and negative ways. I try not to dwell on the negative, but am not always successful.
    Today I heard that a friend of mine passed away. It was not a surprise, he had cancer and it was only a matter of time. I respected and admired him, for many reasons. While I cannot do him justice in an epitaph, I can share his impact on my life. And, really, when it all comes down; it is how we are remembered by those that know and love us that is our worldly immortality.
     His greatest strengths were integrity, and honesty. He was happily married. He was a sailor. He was working on a retirement cottage. Then boom!!! Cancer! When I heard the news from my friends Arlene and George, all I thought was why? Why Mike? He gave so much, and took so little. He also was a dreamer. ost of my days with him revolved around work, but he did like to share his dreams.
     The death of a friend is hard and in the past few months I have lost a few friends to the afterlife. However, loss is nothing new to me, or any of us. We just have to cope with it and repair our hearts and move on. Life is for the living. It takes time. It is messy. But we move on. Grief may not seem like it will ever be gone, that it will linger like the stale beer and taste of defeat after a WINGS playoff loss. However, the sun will rise, the days will pass and life will get better. We will survive, the loss will always be there, but we will survive.
     Mike had the dream of working with the Habitat For Humanity. He accomplished that feat. He worked with Habitat to share his knowledge and help those with less fortunate circumstances. His dream was achieved. The loss of life is difficult, and so is the loss of a dream. Sometimes, the loss of a dream is more life changing than death, because the accomplishment of a dream affirms your life.
     Hence, what I will take from our interactions is his determination to follow his dreams He accomplished many things in his life and I learned a thing or ten during the time I spent with him. While I did not see him in the last year or so, I am paying respect to him in this blog. He may be gone, but he will not be forgotten.
     When we were kids we all had dreams of some day when we grow up. It seemed like every body was always asking, “What are you going to be when you grow up?” everyone had their answer, and many times we were told, “Oh, no! You don’t want to do, or be that.” This response from the elders was not just because you replied, “I want to be a slacker.”
     When I was 3, my earliest memory of my childhood, I wanted to be a Popsicle man. I wanted to ride that bike with the bells, and have the adoration of the neighborhood. A small kid has small dreams. Then I decided that the guy that drove the ice-cream truck was a better gig. The Doppler Effect of Popeye the Sailorman as the ice-cream man slowly drive through the streets still makes me smile. While I never attained that dream, I still remember that it lived and I did eat a ton of popsicles. And as I recall, the guy that drove the truck looked like he was about 80 years old…maybe there is still hope.
     Then I wanted to be a super hero. I loved Batman. I wore my Batman costume for about 3 weeks straight. May be it was only thirty minutes, but who’s counting? For the record, my batman costume was the Adam West variety, not the Dark Knight type. It was a short lived dream because, although ADHD was not a diagnosis or a catchphrase way back then, I had a short attention span.
    Then my dream was to be an archeologist. I loved dinosaurs. I knew all the dinos. Well, at least a few, like tyrannosaurus, triceratops, brontosaurus…I am sure there were at least two or three other dinos that had been discovered back then, but really who cares…those three were and are the best of the best! I carried this dream around like a snuggle blanket for at least a couple weeks. This dream died as well, but I moved on.
     When I was about 7 years old and 46 pounds soaking wet, I started following the LIONS and hence my next dream was to be the greatest tight end to play football. 88 was my hero. (Charlie Sanders) I was too small and the LIONS have continued to break my heart. I still dream of the day that they win the Superbowl. (Although they did win the Suh per bowl as I wrote about in my blog a few month ago.) So this dream is still partially active, and I may live to….yeah riiight…
     In my teens my dream was to be Hooper from Jaws. (Hooper was an oceanographer from Woods Hole Institute. BTW I did not want to be the Hopper in the book by Peter Benchley. That Hooper dies; I wanted to be Hopper from the movie, because that Hooper lives.) My knick name in seventh grade was Jaws. I talked about Jaws all the time. At the time my father worked for The Hartford Ins. Co. they sponsored *The Undersea World of Jacques Cousteau.* I may still have one of those Orange caps.
     This dream actually lasted thru my teens and prompted me to, upon graduation from EKHS, move to California to go to San Jose State and become a marine biologist or an oceanographer. However, I never even enrolled in college in California probably because I smoked pot, got drunk, and watched a double feature of Cheech and Chong at a drive-in movie. There may be other reasons, but I can’t quite remember much of those six months other than the pot, booze and something about a drinking game involving pink elephant cards. (that’s why they call it dope) Concurrently, in my later teens, like every other boy I dreamed of getting laid. Mission accomplished. Dream completed. Jus sayin’
     When the Hopper dream died and while I was attending GRCC (then GRJC) I wanted to be a revolutionary. I wanted to change the world. I listened to Pink Floyd and Rush. I wanted to change the world with revolution in a good way, whatever that really means…After all, I was the Vice President of the conservation club. I did not attain that high status by anything I did with the club. Well, other than say, when they told us at my second meeting that the current VP had resigned, that I would be more than happy to take his place. I may have accomplished more but I still liked smoking pot.
     I stopped smoking pot long enough to change in the world way back then by standing on the corner of a downtown street with a NO NUKES sign. AND THEN Ronald Reagan gets all the credit for ending the cold war. I am counting that as a mission accomplished. Dream fulfilled. (Hey, if GWB can say *mission accomplished* and have the war linger on for the better part of a decade, I can get SOME credit for the end of the cold war!!!)
     Then my dream was to travel and kick back and see the world. Live in a van, be a bum. Well, maybe more like a high functioning slacker, because I stopped smoking all that pot. I did that for about 3 weeks one summer. I really liked it. Dream sort of attained.
     In my mid-twenties I wanted to get rich. I wanted to be a Millionaire before I was thirty. I discovered AMWAY. Back when it was still called Amway. Now it is some other thing, but god knows what it is. If anyone ever wants to help you set up a business, show you a business idea, or is a business man/woman looking to set up a new “branch” or whatever in your town, it is probably Amway, or some kind of MLM. BTW Amway, or whatever it goes by now is not a pyramid scheme. A pyramid scheme is corporate America. Jus sayin’.
     Then I got divorced. Not really my dream, but whatever…so I tended bar did construction and started the Renaissance Man. Business. For thirteen years it was awesome. One year was really bad, but hey I’ll take those odds any day. Well, not always so awesome, but my dream my rules. Being self employed is good more than bad and the numbers I just stated prove it..
     During this period I resurrected the living in the van dream. Because I was self employed I cold go where ever and do what ever as long as I fulfilled my obligations. I played Guitar on the street, and did some carpentry to supplement my existence. I lived and played in Saugatuck and Key West, but mostly Saugatuck. I saw the WINGS win the cup and end a 42 year cup drought. I lived on my sail boat. When the van died I lived in a garage or crashed on a couch. When I ended up living in a 4x 8 utility trailer sleeping on the boat bunk cushions and staying in a storage locker I decided the dream had lived long enough. However I did become mildly famous…LIVIN’ THE DREAM!!!
     Then I met Roxanne and got married. I had kids and a wife and wanted to get rich again. I wanted to buy an island and be Brucellini… (Bruce and Mussolini) This dream was kind of a mixture of the change the world, if only my own little world and my followers (read family) and the Amway dream, however, it turned out that the Amway dream had more of an upside than the excavation and development business, because I lost it all. The house, cars, trucks, equipment, money all gone. but the worst of it all is I lost my dreams. My friend George says sometimes it is ok just to survive... True dat …He has been a big help thru surviving that loss of the dream. And my wife not putting a knife in my chest while I was sleeping helped a ton as well.
     I do not know what my next dream is. Well, maybe I do….Currently, the Mega millions Jackpot is like Donald Trump lotto millions. Guess it would be an easier dream to accomplish if I bought a ticket or two. Maybe my blog will become more than my mildly famous days…maybe my book will sell… a guy can dream…We all should dream big or dream small, but just dream, baby!
     I hope all of Mike’s remaining dreams are attained in the afterlife. In tribute to Mike I will continue to dream on.
Just another day in paradise

Monday, April 26, 2010

The new dog in town…

     I am a dog. In a past life I was a dog. In the next life I will probably be a dog. It is another Saturday. I wake up to no Browndog. It is still difficult. They say time heals all wounds and I know it does, but...I still hear his Browndog rapping when I pull in the driveway. I open the door to let him out and then I remember the old boy is gone. He has only been gone for a few weeks, but I have been without a dog for too long.
     When you get home the dog is always so excited to see you. People should all greet each other like dogs. Okay, maybe not the ass-sniffing, but the excitement level. “Oh! Man! you are HOME!!! Love me up!”
     Life goes on. The company I work for is moving into a new office, and I have to go do some things at the new space, but I am feeling like I was over served last night. That last one always seems like a good idea at the time. It was probably not, but oh well. My wife calls me on my cell phone. She says that there is a dog expo at the Delta Plex. She asks me if I want to go. Of course I want to go to the used dog show. I WANT another dog. I am dog and I am a dog person.
     We get to the show and walk in. There are so many dogs to see and so much dog shwag. We find a bunch of dogs. I could take all of them home. It is sad that people can abandon their dogs or their cats. I am not much of a cat person, but animals are part of the family. However, the human animal can be really cruel, and unkind. Just ask those kids at Columbine and all those poor dogs that didn’t come home with us this time.
     I can watch a movie of humans killing each other. I can watch a war movie, or a horror movie. Granted it is just a movie, but still…I feel very little emotion. I cannot watch that commercial about pets that are abandoned. It kills me.
     We check out all the dogs. There are so many sad eyed take ME home looks, it is difficult. We spend time with a couple of puppies. We see one that looked just like ‘Cino, but we cannot get an identical dog to one we just lost a few months ago. We move on. We find a setter mix that is sooo cute, but it is very shy. Too shy. The next dog we get needs to have some PERSONALITY!!
     I find a dog named Jimmy. He is a Sheppard mix. I ask to take him out. He has some weight issues, he is skinny, and needs a bath. I walk him around out back of the show. We bond. He has some personality. He has some love to give. If it were just me, I would take Jimmy home. After all, a dog named for the WINGS starting goalie is not  a bad thing. Unfortunately, he also has some aggression issues. Jimmy is a one person, one dog, dog. We need a dog friendly dog. It is a shame. It looks like we will be dog free for another week, or longer.
     We are about to go home. We have seen all the dogs. We cannot make up our mind. Then my wife finds a black lab puppy. He apparently was almost adopted. A family spent about an hour and a half with him. But then decided they didn’t want him. He was worn out, and sleeping so he was kind of lost in the shuffle. Libby says, “OOOHHHH! He is soooo CUTE!” We spent about 10 minutes with him and knew it was THE DOG.
     He is a lab, so I am in for the LOOOONG puppiness that comes with labs. He looks enough like ‘Cino and ‘Spresso, but he is black. He is smart and already knows how to sit. He will not fill the hole in my heart that was left by ‘Cino and Browndog, but he will be a great addition to the family.
     His name is Tucker. With my proclivity to drop the f-bomb, we may have to change that name.
Just another day in paradise