Me, Sher, and Ad

Me, Sher, and Ad
Bro Adam and sis Sher, my rocks!

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Arthritis ... Thanks Mom!

About three months ago, I started having pain and swelling in my knees. I could get down but then needed to pull myself back up. I thought the reason was that I was working out too much. Then I remembered that I wasn't working out at all that month. I was on a "holiday hiatus."  What holiday you ask? Umm, January 19th National Popcorn Day. 

Anyway, maybe the pain was due to a lack of working out?  Hmmm. An unanswered question that I promptly ignored as I shoved another handful of buttered popcorn into my mouth and washed it down with a glass of red wine. Yes, I am the epitome of class.  I then realized that those years of cross-country running and track have finally caught up with me!

I started working out once again after I realized that the lumbar support I felt on my car seat was actually my back-fat bulging from my sides. Now that's a pleasant statement. But getting into shape takes time. I know my recent (ahem) weight gain, although only 10 … ok 15 pounds, may not seem like that much but it does exacerbate already present health issues including … get ready for it … pain in my knees.

I spoke with my sister Sheryl the other morning on our daily "commute chat" who luckily commiserates with me on all the aches and pains of aging. She confirmed that Mom did suffer from arthritis and most likely this was yet another fun hereditary medical condition passed onto me.

Move over high blood pressure and allergies! We need to make space on the boat for arthritis! Now all four of us can sail off into the sunset together in this journey we call aging!

I asked Sheryl what I could do for it and she promptly told me she lives on Aleve. Well, I already take 4-6 various pills daily for various ailments, so what's one or two more?

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Boston Marathon Bombings

With the twin bombings at the Boston Marathon just a day old, the sights and sounds of the explosion are raw and seared into our minds.  How could this happen again?  We now have bombings which recently have only occurred in war torn countries like Syria, Iraq, or Afghanistan. It is too close for comfort and yet, surreal. That is until you see the carnage splashed across the news and social media outlets. 

Only then do you begin to see what these poor people went through: the rivers and splatters of blood across the sidewalk; discarded bags, jackets, and purses; blown off shoes and ripped clothing strewn about, bloody American flags trampled on the ground.  Injured people are seen: some missing limbs and others being dragged, wheeled, or carried away to emergency care. And then the surreal became all too real.

One man lost both of his legs. An eight year old boy, Martin Richard, died. His sister lost her leg. The mother has a brain injury. Two others died. One woman's two older sons each lost a leg. There are just a few of the 170 plus injuries and three deaths which occurred.

8 yr old Martin Richard, rest in peace
With the evil people of this world who seem hell-bent on destroying peace, you will still find those who outnumber them that are good people and who are willing to help. Those who actually rush into the chaos to help the victims who have fallen. Those are our heroes. I just thank G-d that we have people in this world who are willing to rush into these disaster scenes to help others. It is not something that everyone can do. I even question myself if I would be able to do it or would I just bolt?  I just don't know.

This is something we need to remember. There will always be people who will help you. You can't shutter yourself in. You can't become a hermit. If you do, then the bad guys win. You need to live your life to the fullest.

Yes, more horrific events will occur. Such is the sign of our times. But again, if some disaster or horrific event happens, there will always be the helpers.  Caring, good people will always be there. And you can bet there are more of them than the evil people of this world.

This essay was influenced by the quote below. I heard about it on the radio this morning and then found in on the late Fred Rogers's website. Make sure your kids know this.

"When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, 'Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.' To this day, especially in times of 'disaster,' I remember my mother's words and I am always comforted by realizing that there are still so many helpers – so many caring people in this world."  Fred Rogers

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Stepped on an Egg

One Fall day while walking home from kindergarten, I was approached by three thugs. Now by thugs, I mean second graders from the bucolic elementary school in the calm peaceful South Jersey town of Wenonah. I didn't know them as most victims don't know their attackers.  I was in the wrong place at the wrong time…

I had just fended off the advances of my then girlfriend Debbie Rosenberg and was just about to leave the school property when the thugs came up to me.

"Hey man, come here." One of them asked.
"No, I can't, I'm on my way home." I replied in a squeaky 5 yr old voice.
"Get over here!"
Rather than risk a physical confrontation, I obliged and asked, "What do you want?"
"Step on that pile of leaves."

I looked down at a pile of leaves and said, "No, I don't wanna."
One of the thugs repeated to me, growing louder, "STEP on it!"
"I have to go home…" I trailed off starting to move away.
"GET HIM!" they shouted, grabbing me and holding me in front of the pile of leaves.

Two ruffians held me on either side while the third ruffian forced me to step on the pile of leaves. I remember vividly seeing them force my right Buster Brown shoe onto the pile and hearing an egg crack as I stepped on it. Runny egg white and yolk spilled out from either side of the leaf pile and onto the bottom of my shoe. They started laughing at me.

And that’s it. That's all that happened. As I look back at this event I see how anticlimactic it was. Okaaaay, they forced me to step on a pile of leaves. I wasn't hurt or anything. Hmmmm. It seemed like much ado about nothing.

Way back then, that was enough to send me into hysterics. I broke free and ran home yelling the entire way.  A couple blocks away from my muggers, I tripped over the sidewalk and fell face first onto it completely flipping over onto my back.

I just sat there in shock looking above at the leaves ever so gently floating down around me. I came to a couple minutes later and realized I was pretty scraped up, but basically OK. My knees were scraped, hands scraped, and forehead and nose scraped up from the face plant.

I ran the rest of the way home just stopping briefly to tell the crossing guard Mrs. Lutz that I had been savagely beaten by older kids. Once home, this story mushroomed into a tale that included being chased down, thrown about, and beaten up. And I mentioned there was an egg involved although at that point it seemed rather pointless to dwell on. I also failed to mention the trip and falling over the concrete sidewalk.

All Mom could do was yell to Dad, "They beat up my baby!"
I sat there in the breakfast room and looked like a sad clubbed baby harp seal. Mom and Dad sprung into action and contacted the school the next day. The 8 year old ruffians were punished for attacking me … although I am sure they still insist it was just some tale about stepping on an egg.  My deviousness started at a young age.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Painful Snapshots from Childhood

I was looking through some very old photos of myself the other evening. Gosh I was sure a chunky little monkey in a couple pics. There are several of myself I think about burning, especially one class photo from 5th grade where I was quite a slovenly mess. Hair all over the place, dirty face, missing a front tooth. I think I was 9. 

Even younger at 4, there is a photo where I am barefoot with dirty feet! There are also photos which were taken with mistakes, in mid-sentence with my mouth hanging open shouting something. I laugh at them now. These fading yellowing snapshots connect us to our past. My sister loves them, reminding us of good innocent times when we kids and all we were worried about was the next time we could go outside and play.

Of course I wouldn't mind if the ones from my teen years were accidently chucked. I just cringe looking at the thick glasses, braces, and zits. Those definitely do not produce laughs from me. But as painful as they are, something makes me hold onto them.  They are who I was, where I have come from.

Late high school got better. I actually have a couple pics which I don't cringe at. I learned how to mug for the camera and smile on command.  College wasn't so bad either, although I should have chosen an eyeglass style other than the Sally Jesse Raphael look.

Lastly, I am just now reminded about a painful emotional experience in 1st grade, where we did silhouette portraits in class at Wenonah Elementary. We sat in front of a strong light so that our side profile shadow was projected onto a black piece of paper where the teacher outlined the profile with chalk. The profile was then cut out and glued onto a colored background.

My hair hadn't been cut in ages and had grown kinda long. The outlined reflected my long hair and I looked like a girl. Everyone in class made fun of me. I was mortified and grew hot with embarrassment and shame. I struggled to hide the tears welling up in my eyes. The teacher still sent me home with the picture. Once home, I hid it in the closet off of my Dad's art studio.

My sister got home from school that day. She was 12. I brought her downstairs, showed her the portrait and just cried. She hugged me and said "We don't have to keep it, you can get rid of it." And that's what we did. I loved her more than ever that day for giving me the OK to chuck it and getting me through that pain.