Crossroads

The one thing I’m sure of?

That I’m not sure of a lot of things.

Some of it I’ve addressed here already. Some of it I’m not sure I ever will. Doesn’t mean I’m not dealing with it though.

Because I’m trying to.

Call it a midlife crisis. Call it what you want. I’m going with the fact that I’ve reached a crossroads in my life in so many different ways.

(And, ok, I’m secretly just a little excited that what I’m calling this is the name of a past Bon Jovi album.)

But, this isn’t about my man. This is about this man. Me.

I know you’ve heard me say that before. And, well,  you’ll hear me say it again.

Why?

Because it’s true.

What kind of steps am I taking? Little ones.

In a lot of areas.

I’ve had some pretty good conversations lately with people I respect dearly — not to mention admire and trust. Both are people very familiar with my work. Both know me very well.

And both have told me things that I’m not sure I would have believed even a year ago. And, honestly, I didn’t really believe it when the first person would tell me these things. Well, that’s not true. Maybe I believed it (a little), but I had a hard time understanding it (and still do).

However, when the second person, who doesn’t know me nearly as well as the first person, reiterated exactly what the first person has been saying for almost a year, well, it sank in — so much that I told the first person that it was finally sinking in — after all this time. That what the first person had been saying was, in fact, true — even though I didn’t want to believe it.

By no means was I knocking what the first person had been saying. In fact I told this person they were right. And that it was finally sinking in — the more I heard certain things.

It wasn’t a matter of person two validating person one. It was a matter of my own self image — something that hasn’t been particularly positive for a while, for a variety of reasons.

Yet, when you have not one, but two people you respect dearly saying the same thing, maybe it is true. Maybe it is time to listen to that — despite what image is in your own head.

So that’s what I’m trying to do. Listen. Because if I do believe what person one and two are saying is true, then some changes are going to happen. I’m just not exactly sure what that means yet.

Change can, afterall, mean so many things.

And, for me, right now, the biggest challenge is figuring out what those things actually are.

And then, once I do, the next challenge is addressing them.

One at a time.


Tommy O

I did it.

I pulled a fast one on my brother. And, I gotta tell you, the plan and implementation was flawless!

Here’s the (long) story.

Many moons ago, Tom was in a band. He had dreams of being a rock star. His band, Asylum, had some really good local success. But, no matter how hard they tried, they could never get over the hump. That’s OK though. They worked hard. They tried hard. They have no regets.

While in the band, Tom also taught guitar at the local guitar shop. He has taught countless of kids how to play guitar. And, like any teacher, Tom remembers one of his best students — Evan.

So much so that he followed Evan’s rise in a great band based in DC called Honor By August. Check them out here. You won’t be disappointed.

Tom keeps bugging me and bugging me to give this band a listen. Finally, I did. And now I can’t get enough. They are that good. And they are on their way. No question in my mind.

Then we find out the band is playing in Connecticut. So, we trek 90 minutes to go see them on a cold February night. They were awesome. I was hooked even more.

Fast forward to the point where I learn that Evan grew up right across the river from where I work. And, that his Dad has been active in my place of employment for more than 20 years. A small world keeps getting smaller.

So, while seeing the band for the first time, I mention to Evan that I want to bring them to where I work for an outdoor summer concert. He’s completely jazzed about the idea. And, turns out the band spends time near here every summer anyway to write songs. Things are just working out here for all the right reasons.

Then I take it upon myself to make it all happen. I get the concert idea supported and the band booked. Now we wait. And wait. And wait.

Meanwhile, I’m striking up a relationship with Evan as we discuss the show. Then, they come back to the same place I saw them the first time — now a month away from the show at my place.

Tom and I (along with his wife) go to the show and have a great time. The band rocks. And, they are excited about playing our show.

As we’re leaving for the night, I hang back for a bit and say to Evan, “Think you can teach the band an Asylum song?”

He smiles and says, “I hear you. Let’s get it done!”

See, each show Tom is at, the band dedicates a song to him and mentions that he taught Evan how to play.

That’s all well and good, but Evan knew I wanted to do more than that. He knew I wanted to have Tom on stage playing one of his old songs.

The plan was in place and things were coming together. I managed to get an mp3 file of an old song from Tom and get to Evan. The next challenge was getting Tom’s guitar there so he could play his own. Evan even referred to it as the “great white beauty” because he had fond memories of it as Tom would use that one to teach.

On the day of the show, Tom arrives early to hang with me and the band as they set up — chatting with Evan and catching up even more as only teacher and student good do.

Meanwhile, Tom’s wife was bringing his guitar to my work and leaving it in my car — but inside another case that I had borrowed from a co-worker who was in on it. This way, the guitar could get to the venue without Tom being suspicious because he wouldn’t see his own case. With the help of my wife and two super fans of the band, that was easily done.

Evan and the guys were psyched to pull this off. And I mean they were genuinely excited to be a part of it. And that’s what made this even better. I had said to Evan that Tom feels like he had a little something to do with Evan’s success.

Evan stopped me and said, “A little something to do with it? That’d be like saying the iceberg had a little something to do with the Titanic.”

So as the band starts the show, the ‘great white beauty’ was resting on the side of the stage — waiting for Tom to come up and play.

And then it happened, the singer, Michael, announced that there was a special guest here to play with them tonight. Tom had no idea until Michael said, “Tommy O (that’s what Evan always calls him), come on up, we’ve got a surprise for you.”

This was perfect! As he got on stage, Evan opened the case and Tom saw his guitar. He had no clue that we got the guitar there! So, he straps it on, plugged in to Evan’s rig and away he went.

What a moment to see teacher and student playing together.

More importantly, for me, what a moment to give my brother. We don’t talk a lot about stuff. We just don’t. We know how each other feels, and that’s enough.

Except on this night.

Tommy O deserved to be on that stage. He deserved the chance to play again for an audience. And he didn’t disappoint. The place loved the whole surprise element, and he played most of the song with a smile on his face — especially at the end of the song when the band bowed down in playful — yet meaningful — respect. And many of the people at the show gave him a standing O. It was a great moment.

I met him backstage and he was psyched and very thankful to me for pulling it off. Over the next couple of hours, he learned the entire back story (as you just have) and we shared a lot of great memories about it with the band.

He was all concerned about how it sounded (fabulous, by the way). And it didn’t even matter.

The fact is, Tom got to play. And he loved it.

Evan got to play with his mentor. And he loved it.

And I got to do something incredible for my brother.

Because I love him.

_____________________________________________

Here’s the proof!

Tommy O takes the stage!

Tommy O takes the stage!

Just like riding a bike...

Just like riding a bike...

Teacher and student together.

Teacher and student together.

tommyo4

Paying homage to Tommy O!

The smile that made it all worth while.

The smile that made it all worth while.

Pictures 1-4 courtesy of Anna. Picture 5 courtesy of Meg.

Battle Buddies

It’s never easy watching a co-worker leave.

That’s what happened Tuesday. It’s someone I don’t really know all that well, but whenever we had interaction, it was a kick. A true match of wit and sarcasm — always trying to one up the other in that way. And, if you know me, you know I like that type of challenge.

I mean, she worked in Finance — and yet still had a sense of humor. That alone is an astounding fact in my book. Nevertheless, I’ll miss her wit. I know, just the fact of a witty finance person is almost impossible to comprehend. But, in this case, it was true.

Now she’s off to (much) greener pastures. And that’s a good thing. You always have to look out for number one. Always have to keep options open. She did that. And she’ll be fabulous where she’s going. A great addition to their team.

But, at the same time, it’s hard to see someone good that, well, ‘gets it,’ go.

Before today, I had two of those experiences in my current position — and, while it was the best move for each person, I can still remember their last days like they were yesterday.

When Molly left — it, well, hurt. A lot. Not because I was losing a great assistant (though she wasn’t really my assistant), it was because I was losing daily interaction of a great friend. Truly of the little sister I never had.

But,  here’s the thing. We are still in regular contact, and while we don’t see each other every day, we stay up on everything and when we do see each other, it’s fabulous.

When Sara left — it, well, hurt. A lot. (Sensing a theme here?) Sara and I were in different departments, so we didn’t have the constant contact like Molly and I had, but when we had contact, it was stellar. She gave me something when she left that nobody knows about — and I’m not telling, so don’t ask. It was so “us” and still is — that when I see it in my office, I crack up.

Sara and I have stayed in contact, but I wish that I was doing a better job at it. Her life is changing in a very good way and I couldn’t be prouder. And I’m planning to go visit her in a couple of weeks for what will no doubt be another stellar experience.

I have some amazing colleagues now. People that like Molly and Sara have gone beyond colleague status right to ‘friend’ status. People that aren’t in my life for a reason or a season. People that are in my life for a lifetime.

And to those battle buddies, please know I stand with you — regardless. I am in awe of you every day — for the work you do and, more importantly, the way you do it.

I am proud to be on your side.

And, more importantly, I’m proud to be your friend.


Missed Opportunity

The thing about losing a sibling?

It sucks. And when I say it sucks, I mean, really. It sucks.

Regular readers know that my brother Tim died two years ago — completely unexpected and literally within a week of the birth of my daughter. (If you’re new, there’s plenty to read on this…if you choose).

So, why am I still having a hard time with Tim’s death?

Because, honestly, I’m having a hard time. A really hard time, actually. Harder than I ever thought possible.

I’ve (basically) come to terms with my Dad’s death — which will be 10 years in January. But, Tim?

Yeah. Not so much.

There is, actually, a lot of good connected to my daughter because of Tim. I do truly believe that. I’ve found some comfort in the fact that I actually believe Tim didn’t get sick for a reason until after Erin was born. It was like he could leave now that there was a ‘replacement’ on the scene. Not a replacement, per se, but hopefully you know what I mean.

The connection of her birthday to his death will always have me remembering Tim at that time. And I will always try to have the  memories be positive ones. But that’s hard.

I loved my brother. And I know he loved me.

But we weren’t close.

We got along fine. We were family. We did family stuff. But by ‘close’ I mean that we didn’t have a ton in common and we didn’t really do a lot of ‘just hanging out’ and doing stuff of common interest. We did all the family stuff and that was, well, fine.

Until now.

See, and I know I can’t change this, but one of the things that bugs the shit out of me is knowing that I don’t have the opportunity now to change any of that. That’s where my loss comes in. Not things that were, but things that could have been.

Let me digress for a minute…I have four cousins — three men (two of which are twins) and a woman. One of the twins has essentially removed himself from the family completely. Nobody really knows why and I find it very sad, actually, but at one level, it is what it is.

In talking to two of my cousins they were basically talking about their brother like he didn’t exist.

This infuriated me.

I said, look, you may not agree with why he’s pulled back or what he’s done or whatever, but you know what? He’s still your brother. And, the fact is, if you wanted to talk to him about stuff, you can do that. Me? I don’t have that chance. I can’t change anything now. It’s too late. If I have a conversation with Tim now, it’s pretty one sided!

I actually don’t think they fully understood what I was saying. Not that I was trying to play peacemaker, just that if they want the chance to talk, they have it. I,  however, don’t.

So that’s one of the things that really gets me. I should have made an effort to know Tim better than I did. Not that I didn’t know him, but you know what I mean. I should have made an effort to more ‘brotherly’ things, rather than just family things.

My brother Tom and I, for example, have bonded a bit recently because of a band we are both fond of. I’ve probably talked to Tom more about this band than I have about a lot of other things. We’ve gone to see the band twice, and we’re both looking forward to seeing the band again next week.

I haven’t talked about this with Tom, but he probably isn’t seeing this the same way I am. Maybe he is. I’m not sure. But I’m seeing it as opportunity. Opportunity to spend time with my brother in a non family focused situation. And, you know what, it’s kind of a good thing.

So then I get frustrated again — that I didn’t find this with Tim. Or that my desire to do so is coming much to late.

But, there is something I can do — and it’s another thing I’ve struggled with.

Tim has a son who is about to turn 16. I’m not quite sure why I haven’t done more with him in the last two years. I’m  not real proud of that, because I should be doing things — taking him to a concert or a game or something. Instead, it’s been limited to family function stuff, that’s it.

If the situation was reversed, I know that Tim would take Aidan fishing or on a boat or to a game — anything. That’s what he would do. And it’s what I should do with his son.

I’m not sure why I hesitate — and that bugs me almost even more than the simple fact that I haven’t done anything like that.

I mean, I’m sitting here bitching about losing my brother and having these missed opportunities. At least I got 35 years (plus) with him. His son got 14. And now, at a time where he needs a male presence, where he needs a father, I’m nothing but a lame uncle with great ideas that doesn’t follow through.

At least that’s what it feels like.

It shouldn’t be this hard. That’s what I don’t understand. Why is it hard for me to take that first step? It’s a step Tim would have taken two years ago if the situation was reversed.

Time? There’s plenty of time. Just make it.

I honestly don’t know what it is. I can tell you here that I will do a better job for my nephew. I will work to get us to a football game. I will take him to a concert. I will take him to the movies. I will do whatever.

Saying that is the easy part. Doing it, for some reason, is the hard part.

I missed opportunities with Tim.

I’m working on not missing opportunities with Tom.

I need to do the same for my nephew.

Why?

Because I know Tim would never be writing a blog about this in terms of doing things for Aidan.

That alone should motivate me.

I hope it does.


Back with a Vengeance

Wow.

Your initial response to my long-awaited return to the blogging world was an incredible one.

I can’t believe the number of views I got, and I was honestly touched by those that left comments.

What’s interesting about the comments is they come from a mixed group of people that know me in a variety of ways. Some are current co-workers that know somethings about me.

Some are former co-workers that know different things about me. One is a blog friend — and, um, one of my first true blog crushes (why? because if I can write anything like she can, then I know I’m good) — and another is someone who has known me since college.

An interesting perspective, and apparently, you all think I have something of interest to say — or at the very least, you, and the others that are reading me, have an interest in what I’m saying — if that makes any sense.

Maybe you do think I’m profound or something. Or maybe you like watching an emotional train wreck. I’m not sure. Either way, I am glad you are here.

And, remember, believe it or not, this isn’t about you. This is about me.

That’s a hard thing these days — about me.

You want openness? Well, then I only have one big question these days.

It’s kind of a doozy.

Who am I?

Because, honestly, there are days that I don’t know. And there are a lot of reasons for that — some of which you may learn about here. Some of which you may not. Jury is still out on that one.

But, I need to sort some things out — for me.

Some brief examples — just to give you a glimpse — if you, in fact, want to take it.

Why am I still struggling — and sometimes rather significantly — with Tim’s death?

Am I good dad? No, really.

And for the record, I’m not asking you to answer any of these. I’m just, well, sharing. You know, putting it out there.

Have I lessened my credibiility as a ‘good friend’ — which, by the way, is something I inspire to be for everyone — because of how I’ve treated what I thought was one of my closest?

How am I really going to deal with what will be, probably, the most significant loss in my life yet — and, if you believe medical reports, it’s one that’s not that far away (in the grand scheme of things).

How come I’ve let myself down on something I was doing so well with and so proud of — until the last half year or so?

So, yeah. There it is. Cards on the table. No elephants in this room.

This is what you came back for. Hope you do stay around. I understand if you don’t, but I certainly hope that you do.

You are more than welcome to stay. But just remember one thing —

It’s all about me.


To Blog or Not to Blog?

….yes, that is the question.

At least it’s the question I’ve been pondering for almost the last two months.

And, I think it’s the question that every blogger asks him/herself at some point. Do I really want to do this any more? Because, honestly, it can get tiring.

And by tiring, I don’t necessarily mean sleepy tired (though based on when I post most of my stuff, that could be the case), I mean emotionally tired. And I think that’s what happened to me.

By nature of who I am, I put stuff out there. Always have. And hopefully always will. Usually, it just takes a question and off I go on something — particularly if I have an emotional connection to something.

This blog has been an example of that. Some of my best writing is about an awful topic — death and dying.

But, that’s who I am. And I can’t avoid writing about that. In fact, as life changes so often, I will probably be writing about that again sooner than later.

I don’t sit down at the computer with an agenda. I sit down, put my fingers on the keyboard and away they go. Whatever thoughts are in there at the time come out.

Lately, however, I’ve been trying to determine how many of these thoughts I want to share with you. And, if I do, what will your reaction be to them?

In a way, I was self-censoring myself.

I mean, I want to write. Scratch that. I need to write. It’s how I deal with a lot. It’s how I let go of a lot. And, well, I’m not always good at letting go — of anything.

And, while I honest to God do come here to write for myself, I can’t lie and say I don’t check my traffic to see how many hits I get. At the same time, I love to get comments. So, yeah, I like to have an audience. Who doesn’t?

Therein lies the problem…some things, quite frankly, I’m not sure I’m ready to share. And that is my dilemma.

I don’t know if it’ll all come out or not. But I’m pretty sure I need to sit here more often, usually late at night like it is now, and put my fingers on the keyboard and see what happens.

I started this blog almost three years ago — and so much has happened in that time frame. Some amazing people have come in to my life — and at least one has left.

The mantra of reason, season, lifetime has never been truer for me. Not as I think about all that is before me and all that lies ahead.

I’m not sure how my words are coming across right now. Nor will I until I read this on the screen just like you do.

See, that’s one of my rules here. Type. Just type. Head down and go. Only fix a typo that you see in the same line you’re on at the time. Otherwise, don’t go back and read and proof and edit. That’s not what this is about — at least not to me. This is about what I’m feeling — at that moment. And while I may have been self-censoring myself, I’m not about to self edit myself.

Doing that defeats the entire purpose of this blog.

Of course, I’m not really sure what the purpose is. I have ideas, but haven’t quite figured it out yet.

So thanks for checking in over the last two months. Sorry I haven’t been around. I’ve been thinking about my ‘return’ for about two weeks or so. And thanks to a couple of blogger friends and some comments on Facebook, I decided, ah, hell, why not.

Let’s see what happens.

So, here I am. Seeing what happens. With an open mind and an open heart. And all I ask of you is to give me the same in return.