Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Happy New Year....

To all my friends in the blogosphere, a happy and healthy new year to you all.

Here's hoping 2009 will be far, far better than 2008.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008


How could this have happened??? I was watching my post counter very carefully, but somehow, it slipped away from me. I was hoping to make note of my 100th post, and yet here I am, on post 122. Tempus fugit.

It's hard to believe that 122 posts have come by so relatively quickly. I remember when I started this blog in part as a way to get myself into the habit of writing regularly, in preparation for becoming a full-time freelance writer. While I sometimes don't write as regularly as I'd like, I still do it far more often than in the past.

I also have discovered a world (literally) of blogmates, and have forged new friendships with people from around the globe. For that, I am very thankful.

So, with my dram glass of MacAllan 12-year old single malt in hand, I salute all of you out there in the blogosphere that have helped me make this blog a success. You have offered advice and counsel at times, condolences when needed, and have hopefully made me a better writer by reading your work as well.

Here's to 122 more posts and beyond. Slainte!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

More Xmas hijinks.

Tom Lehrer is a bona fide genius. A Harvard professor, he began recording songs in the late 50' - satirical pieces with a bite that still resonates today. I have 3 of his albums, and even though some of the pieces seem a bit dated, many of them still ring true, and make me howl.

This particular little dittiy is rather appropriate for this time of year. Written in the early 60's, it is as relevant as ever.

Lehrer retired from performing and playing some time ago, to our loss. He still influences comedians to this day, and as Dr Demento has pointed out, is probably the greatest political satirist of our time.

Friday, December 19, 2008

I'm dreaming of a cheap snowplow service.

The winter weather machine that is lake-effect snow has roared in here like nobody's business. I shoveled a foot-and-a-half of snow from my driveway, there is more on the way today, and it is messy out there. The roads were a nightmare on Friday. The town didn't get to plowing our street until late in the night, as they had trouble keeping up with the main roads. It was coming down at several inches per hour, and for a time, visibility was close to zero outside my window.

I had to finally go out at about 3:30 or 4 in the pm to get started on shoveling out, (note the weapons of war to the left) and it was a pain in the ass. Fortunately, child labor is plentiful here, and for a reasonable fee we got some help plowing out. Also to the rescue was a neighbor with a plow blade on his truck. He runs a snow plow service part-time in the winter to pick up a few extra bucks. He's a paramedic in the northern suburb of Greece, (a town here, not the country) and is originally from Yonkers. We usually have a lot to talk about, and even know some of the same people from the EMS world back down in NYC.

Getting up this morning to find another 2 inches or so on the driveway, Mrs. N. and I figured it would be best to get it off before this second round comes in and blasts us again. Now, here is Mrs. N. doing her wifely duties - *SMACK* - OK, OK!!!! I mean we both were doing our duty....

Now, this will give you some inkling of how much snow we got:
As you can see, we earned a PhD in this storm, that is Piled High and Deep. Of course, Round 2 was on the way, and just as we were finishing, we could see it barreling in from the west. You can see the nice sunny weather from these two pictures, and then within a span of literally 2-3 minutes, it was "Auntie Em, Auntie Em" time here.

The wind started whipping up, and the wall of snow that followed started to sting the front of my face, and it was then when we realized it was time to pack up, head inside and get something warm to drink.

We haven't had anymore snowfall, but still the wind has been brutal, and temps have been hovering in the teens. We may get some more tonight, but I am hoping for not.

It's gonna be a long winter.

P.S. The white stuff started coming down again. I suppose I know what I will be doing come tomorrow morning. In the meantime, this is what the radar looks like:

Monday, December 15, 2008

Death needs to take a holiday.

Well, it was an adventurous trip downstate, to be sure.

Thursday morning, I had to go lecture at an undergraduate director's class at the RIT (Rochester Institute of Technology) School of Film and Animation, which was something that had been planned about 2 weeks prior. It went very well, and I have been asked back for next semester.

I went home, and finished packing for the trip down, but realized that I had to stop at work first to drop off some paperwork related to my health care coverage for next year. While getting all this together, I was listening to the weather report, and to my concern, kept hearing the words "ice storm" in the forecast. Great. Just what I need.

I logged on to the Weather Channel, and it looked as though this ice storm was barreling right up through Pennsylvania, and was going to cut through the southern tier of NY, right where I was going to be traveling. Sizing up my options, I decided that my usual route down I-390 might be worse than heading across the Thruway, and then going south down I-81 past Syracuse. As it turned out, you couldn't get there from here no matter what road you took. The ride to Syracuse went just fine, and then about 10-15 minutes past it, all hell broke loose.

A snowy blast that started as a trickle came down on me as I traveled further south. While I was able to keep driving the speed limit for a fair distance, I had to eventually slow it down, as more of the road went the way of the dodo. The snow became thicker, and it became obvious that there was ice building up. How did I know? Well, the number of vehicles I began seeing in the ditch on the left, or into the right guard rail began increasing exponentially.

I was going about 25 mph, with idiots still passing me doing 50, when I started fishtailing. The old emergency vehicle operation responses kicked in, but the car was having none of it. I started to pull out of it, but then the rear of the car got away from me, and I started doing a 180. Somehow, I didn't hit anyone or anything, and just pulled myself out of the spin in time to have the rear wheel of the car perched about a foot from the ditch at the left shoulder.

I took a deep breath, made sure that no one was barreling down on me, and pulled away, just happening to notice that there was another person that had glanced the guard rail on the right shoulder. He seemed to be okay, we waved at each other, and I continued on my way.

Things finally started letting up, the snow changed to rain, and I pulled into the gas station in Binghamton that I had been using as a stopping point since I started going to college in Buffalo in 1981. I called up my friend Sherri who lives in the Catskills. I was going to have to follow Route 17 through it to get home. The word was not good. Ice. Lots of it. I decided that staying put was a better option, but getting a room was going to be interesting. After the $142 rate at the Fairfield Inn made me wince, I found a recently renovated Super 8. It was clean, didn't appear to have any denizens lurking about, so I plopped down $50 (on plastic), and settled in for the night.

I made some phone calls home, and mom was especially relieved that I decided to abort the trip for now. Of course, it meant getting up at oh-dark-thirty to hit the road in order to make the funeral at 10:45. The bed was fairly comfortable, the room warm, so at least one thing on the trip worked out okay.

I hit the road at a very dark 6 am, and made it down to my friend's home in White Plains at 9:30. Slugging down a cup of coffee, we carpooled with another friend down to the Castle Hill Funeral Home in the Bronx. My friend was there, putting on a very brave face, very happy to see me. She had flown in from Arizona the day before, and must have been mentally and physically exhausted.

My friend's dad was a very well respected and liked man, as was evident by the turnout at his funeral. The service lasted about 30 minutes, and we followed the procession out to the cemetery in New Jersey. This was the hardest part of all, for my friend, her mom, and the rest of their family. This was an Orthodox Jewish burial, and as such, the family was expected to begin the burying of the coffin just to the top of it. I did put in a few shovel fulls, but it only made me more determined to make sure I am cremated. This is not what I want for myself, with people gathered around, already in shock, having to bury my body. my feeling? Burn me, spread my ashes (in a place to be determined) and have a party.

Personally, I think the Irish go about it the right way. Celebrate the person's life, and get drunk in the process.

I went to the shiva call Sat. night, (you can't sit shiva on Shabbos) after spending the day with my neice, who is gorwing up so fast, and while the circumstances were not he best, it was a reunion of sorts with some old friends that I have known for 30 years. Hopefully, we will all meet again under far better circumstances. I started for home Sunday morning, with just over a dozen bagels in tow, and heading back west on Route 17, came across beauty on the side of the road:
Branches encased in melting glass, the sun casting prism broken light onto the road. I pulled over, and just wanted to get the moment. Fortunately, it stayed off the pavement, and made the trip home easy.

Exhausted, I had little time to unpack, and then I had to work.

While scanning my e-mails, I went to reactivate my e-mails for the liver disease support group that I hang on, and while doing so, almost fell out of my chair. One of the members of this group for 10 years was found dead the day before. I helped start this group, and Joe had come on board not long after it was started. He battled Hep C, got transplanted, survived the Hep C combo therapy that rid his body of the virus, only to be brought down by what appears to be lung cancer. Joe and I were not close, and at times, were down right adversarial. Over the past few years however, we communicated privately more, and had developed a respect for one another.

This has been a true hell week for me. I think I need a holiday. Death can stay home and bother someone else for a change.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

...and the week just keeps getting better.

As if enduring the interview-that-never-should-have-been wasn't bad enough, I got the phone call yesterday that I knew was going to come. My friend who I wrote about that just put her dad into hospice called; dad died yesterday. I am hurriedly getting things together, throwing stuff into the car and will be running down to NYC later today. I'll be staying with my brother and his family, and while it will be nice to see them, I wish it was for a far happier occasion.

I'll have my laptop, and I'm pretty sure my brother has a wireless modem, so I'll see about posting when I'm there. In the meantime, think of my friend's dad; he endured a lot, and is no longer suffering.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

No joy.

I'll need an hour or so to sulk, then I'll be ok.

Cattle call.

"Who am I anyway?
Am I my resume?
That is a picture of a person I don't know.

What does he want from me?
What should I try to be?
So many faces all around, and here we go.
I need this job, oh God, I need this job."

From A Chorus Line

Friday, December 5, 2008

Life in freefall...then back up again.

Sorry I have not posted in a couple of weeks, but life has been a bloody rollercoaster since just before Thanksgiving.

Turkey day itself went quite well, with the both my SIL's visiting from Buffalo with their families, as well as Mrs. Nighttime's aunt. A good time was had by all, but it was the events of just before and just after that made life interesting.

The Sunday prior, Mrs. N. got a phone call from an old high school friend and informed her that his mom died. She was sort of a second mom to Mrs. N, so as you can imagine, this hit her pretty hard. Her friend asked Mrs. N if she wouldn't mind singing at the funeral, which she gladly accepted. She went to Buffalo Tues. for the wake, stayed overnight with her aunt, and then went to the funeral Wed. morning. I was originally going to go to the wake, and then drive back to Rochester to go to work, but my place decided to call a staff meeting that I could not get out of. I probably should have just blown it off, but it was for all the work-from-home people like me, and it had to do with some big changes coming down the pike. In the end, I really didn't have a choice.

So, Turkey Day comes and goes, and then on Friday, I get a phone call from an old friend of about 35 years, who informs me that she just put her dad into hospice. He has been battling prostate cancer for about 5-6 years, but it appears as this time, it is going to win. I expect that at some point in the coming weeks, I will be making a trip down to NYC for a funeral. I guess that I am now at that age when I should be expecting more phone calls like this. Thank goodness my mom is healthy.

Now, on the plus side, the fundraiser for our new theatre with our alumnus, Donna Lynne Champlin went extremely well. She was wonderful to work with, and it was old home week for her as well. She has even told us that if she needs to come back for a second round of shows, she would be happy to do it.

Back on Halloween, I met an acquaintance that had left town for some time, and has now been back for the past few months. She used used to do PR for the local art house cinema that is near our theatre. Lovely British woman that I used to bring back boxes of PG Tips for on my visits to Canada. She is now in the media relations/PR dpet. of a large not-for-profit agency here in Rochester. I told her about my situation, the writing business, and how I am looking around for another job while building my business.

We were planning to get together for coffee, when she asked me if I would be interested in possibly doing some freelance PR work at her agency, that there may be a need for such things in the coming month. I told her I sure was, and e-mailed her some clips from my portfolio. (Articles I have written, PR releases, etc.) Out of the blue this past Wed. I get a phone call from her co-worker, who asks me if I might be interested in a full-time position there as a PR/media relations specialist. Apparently, my friend passed along my clips to her, and I have an interview this coming Tuesday.

Now, this is to fill the position for a woman on maternity leave until March, and who may (or may not) come back. Either way, it is a foot in the door and an opportunity I have been looking for a very long time. I have always known the value of networking, and hopefully, it will pay off in a big way now.

So, I am grabbing on to the bars, and just riding the rollercoaster to wherever it leads. Wish me luck on Tues.