Monday, December 23, 2013

Christmas, like Life, is Meaningless...

DISCLAIMER: Religion of any kind is NOT the subject here, nor will it be mentioned other than in passing. And, of course, this is MY perception.

It has been said that Life is meaningless.  Not that Life has no meaning, but that it has no meaning other than what we assign to it, what we perceive it to be.  Now, don’t go rushing to poo-poo that statement until you really think about it.  First, think of all those sayings out there like, “One man’s trash is another’s treasure” and “When one door closes, another opens”, et cetera.  Perception is key here, and perception differs from person to person.  What we see something to be is true for us, and our individual truths are never wrong.

The whole idea of ‘trash/treasure’ is easy to understand, and we see it on a regular basis: the wealthy man who throws out an overcoat because of a small tear on the front pocket and the poor man who’s never owned a coat like that in his life who is happy to have something so well-made; the homeowner who puts an old entertainment center out by the side of the road because of remodeling (or a larger TV), and the crafter who quickly picks it up sees it as a future display shelf; and, sadly, it’s also the person who seems to have everything and is well-loved by many who decides his life is all wrong and takes his own life, and the person who has what appears to be nothing who struggles with day-to-day survival or illness, who treats every single day like it’s a gift.  It’s all perspective, unique to each individual, based on their own knowledge of what Life is.

There is a great experiment that is very easy to do (and unnecessary to do once you’ve heard it explained—but you can try it anyway) that shows truth in perception:  draw a dot in the same spot on both sides of a piece of paper.  Then stand in the middle of two friends (who you trust, if you are paranoid), holding the piece of paper so that each one of them sees one side with a dot on it.  Move the paper in a circle, either away from you or towards you and ask each person which direction the dot is travelling in.  One of them is going to say the dot is moving clockwise, and the other is going to say the dot is moving in a counterclockwise direction.  Now, which one of them is wrong? Neither one of them is wrong.  They are seeing the same dot, on the same piece of paper, and they are seeing it move differently.  That is Life.

That is also Christmas.

It is actually not just Christmas, but everything, however I choose to isolate and use Christmas as an example here because, well, duh, ‘tis the season.  Although, Christmas is a great example just because of its sheer…size; the way it consumes people’s thoughts (for many reasons), the many different emotions evoked at the thought of it: faith, hope, joy, goodwill, cheer, greed, entitlement, inadequacy, panic, loneliness, despair …

I love Christmas, and when someone asks me why (and someone always does) I always answer, “Because of the lights.” I LOVE Christmas lights.  I love shiny, sparkling, glowing things. And that pretty much sums it all up.  But there is more than the surface meaning to that statement, and I realize that more and more every year.

A friend of mine recently told me he hates Christmas, and his reason was because he was always made to feel like a failure at it.  Many people hate Christmas because of the ‘commercialism’ of it.  Others feel lonely, or more isolated than they normally do, especially with all the hype about family and togetherness.  I’m not dissing either, but to someone who is away from their family or who doesn’t have one, it’s hard to look at it any other way than hype.  I waited to put all this down on paper, because I wanted to see and hear what other people were saying about Christmas and the holidays.  It was quite a mix, ranging from the excitement and/or tediousness of cooking and baking to talk of travel plans with time off or having to work more, the joys/torture of sending Christmas cards, the spending of/inability to spend of money for gifts, the missing of special friends and family members, sickness and death, and ending with a simply scathing review on Facebook of the movie, “It’s a Wonderful Life”.

You know what?  All of these perceptions and thoughts and ideas are TRUE.

Then I look at my own “truth”.  I am a financial mess. I almost lost everything this past summer.  My car had been out of commission for over a month because I couldn’t afford to repair it.  I got it repaired (and just got it back only a few days ago), thanks to much help from a number of people around me and it still ended up costing more than expected- my last two paychecks went towards it and my next paycheck is also owed towards it.  I had no presents under the Christmas tree for my kids from me until yesterday, and they are very (very) small.  I lost two very dear friends in the past two months, and I am still grieving over the death of another special friend just a year ago.  I am not complaining by any means, nor am I asking for sympathy or help; I am just stating what my truth is for me right at this moment.

But I still love those Christmas lights.

Let’s go back to the “Life is meaningless” idea, and let’s substitute the word “Christmas” for “Life”.

Christmas is meaningless.

(It is here that I would like to mention again that this is NOT a religious commentary.  People’s religions affect their own perceptions of Christmas, and Life, and it is the idea of perception that I am addressing.)

Now, let’s expand that sentiment to include the full context.  Christmas/Life is meaningless, in the fact that it has no meaning other than what we assign to it.

“Other than what we assign to it.”  Can you see how powerful that statement is?  How much more power that gives us?  Most of our complaints about the holiday season (outside of sickness and death, and even then only to a point), have to do with EXPECTATIONS.  These can be expectations put upon us by society, family and friends, and ourselves.  We should send out Christmas cards, we should be able to buy many gifts, we should be with our families and friends.  The first thing we should do is eliminate the word “should”.   Eleanor Roosevelt said that no one could make us feel inferior without our consent.  The same can be said about allowing yourself to feel a sense of failure to expectations, whether they are society’s, family’s or your own.  You consent to feeling like a failure if you don’t cook the turkey right, get the right gift for someone, or even don’t have the ‘holiday spirit’ other people say you should have (there’s that word again).  You’ve given away your power to those around you, and now that sense of failure has developed into that perception of yourself, and therefore Christmas/Life.

Christmas is also a great example in the fact that everything is so magnified.  Consumerism, greed, pain, loneliness, expectations… AND goodwill, cheer, love and HOPE.  You can feel it in the air, whatever it is, depending on where you are.  In a busy shopping mall you can feel the hustle, the excitement, the frustration.  In any venue set up to celebrate the season you can feel wonder, awe, excitement, hope.  In church you feel faith, love and fellowship.  Don’t deny it; you can feel it.  And whatever you are feeling either adds to the general feeling, or makes you feel isolated from everyone.  It’s that magnified.  You see more examples of good will, more concern for the fellow man, more smiles.  And children… the excitement alone that emanates from children during the holiday season is truly amazing.  And hope?  No one hopes like a child, because their ideas of limitations and expectations aren’t as fully developed as an adult’s.  And that is a good thing.  En masse they are unstoppable.  They could take over the world, if they thought about it.  And one day, they will.

(Wouldn’t it be wonderful if every day were treated as special as Christmas? Or as any one holiday you deem to be special (or, if not “special,” separate from the rest)?  It is not that way yet, which is why starting with Christmas is good because of the elevated positivity around, but the scale is tipping.)

Anyway, back to perceptions.  What you believe is always true for you.  But keep in mind that what you perceive to be true is a choice.   How many times have you had something happen that you consider devastating at the time, but later on you realize that that situation helped you get somewhere/something better?  In hindsight that devastation event was actually a blessing, you just decided at the time that it was a bad thing. It’s all in how you look at it, or sometimes what you choose to look at.  Bad things happen.  Keep in mind, too, that you would not notice what was “good” if you weren’t aware of what was “bad”, and vice versa. Lights only shine in darkness. (See what I did there? J)

So, you burnt the turkey, and there’s another family argument during the holiday dinner (and we know the family NEVER argues any other day of the year), you didn’t get your future wife the exact ring she wanted…blah blah blah.  You disappointed everyone else.  You disappointed society.  You disappointed yourself.  You choose to believe that.  You are not in control of other people’s expectations.  You are not in control of society’s expectations (but you can contribute to them).  If you feel disappointed in yourself, it is because you are choosing to let the expectations and perceptions of what other people believe should be control how you feel about yourself.  You have given your consent to that feeling, and you focus on that.

Your perceptions beget your thoughts, and your thoughts beget your actions.  Perception is what we see, what we focus onWhy not begin choosing what we look at? Why not put our eyes on what we want to see?  At Christmas the easiest to see is goodwill and hope.  Yes, you may have to pull your head out of your own ass to do this, but I promise it will be worth it.  And, yes, this is something that I have to work on myself.  At least consider the fact that the view will be different.  Won’t that be a nice break?

The most contagious thing is a smile (well, that and puking).  Laughter is infectious.  There are more people sharing more smiles and laughter during the holiday season.  Look at that.  Look at them.  They may even have less than you, but they can smile.  Try it.  It even gets easier the more you do it.  But don’t strain yourself; faking it is exhausting.  Stop and look at someone who is genuinely smiling; you can’t help but smile in response (at least the corners of your lips might turn up a little).  Can’t find anyone around you like that?  Head to the internet.  (You can even do this in private). YouTube is great. I recommend “Britain’s Got Talent” featuring any contestant who surprised Simon Cowell (I still go back to Susan Boyle’s first audition, or the 80 year old grandmother Janey Cutler).  Facebook and UpWorthy post wonderful, feel-good and moving stories.  Inundate yourself with that.  Find a smile anywhere you can.  Realizing you are still able to smile or laugh is a great feeling.  Your own happiness starts and ends with you.

Listen to Christmas music—NOT the sad stuff.  The music of hope and happiness.  Listen to “The Hallelujah Chorus”—really listen to it; there is perfection in that harmony.  Listen to “Christmas Eve/Sarajevo” by the TranSiberian Orchestra (and listen to it REALLY loud in your car) and enjoy again the blend of old and new, with the clarity of each individual instrument.  Stop in the mall and watch the kids when they sit on Santa’s lap (do NOT watch them in line waiting!).  Watch the face of a child who is singing Christmas songs, or talking about Christmas Eve.  See the light in their eyes and the awe in their voices.  Focus on that.  You may smile.  You may laugh.  The light of that good feeling becomes a part of you for as long as you look at it, and the memory of that good feeling stays with you.  Notice strangers helping each other, helping someone up if they fall, ‘paying it forward’ with random acts of kindness like buying the next customer in line’s coffee, assisting someone in need, or just smiling at people they pass on the street.  These are also ‘lights’, lights that shine in darkness, on a rainy day, during hard times.  No smile, no light is too small to shine and cast warmth, especially in darkness and cold.

Take a drive and look at the 'other' lights. The lights decorating houses, shrubbery, and trees.  The lights that illuminate the night, putting sparkles in snow, reflecting in raindrops and puddles.  Cheerful bright spots that draw the eye on even the gloomiest of days.

Or don’t.  Those may not be things that make you smile. But try to look for things that do.  Focus on them. No, they will not remove any of the negative in your life, nor will they change anything about those around you.  But it will make the bad easier to deal with and it will change your perception, and it will change you, thereby changing your Christmas…and your Life

Use your powers for good; see the good and be the good, and create your own meaning of everything around you. Use the force.  Be the light. (I love those.)

And have a Merry Christmas!

(So perceiveth the Fucking Cheerleader)

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Our Sun

You were the sun, our star
a light that shone brighter
than a thousand flames
drawn like moths
we were pulled into your orbit
mesmerized by the sky in your eyes
a conflagration so intense
it could not sustain itself
the implosion
extinguished your light
our satellite hearts
sent hurtling through a vast, cold void
plunged in darkness
seeking to remember the light

Mark Kelliher
February 16, 1967-December 3, 2013

Friday, December 6, 2013

Closing Doors (and maybe a little nonsense)

My best friend, Donna, is changing jobs this week.  I won’t say how old she is (but she’s a month younger than I am!), a single mother as well, and leaving a place she has been working at for 25 years.  This is HUGE.  I think about how 20 years ago it would have been considered an even bigger deal—just because of her age, and I find that funny.  This is a big deal first and foremost just because it’s a major change, age notwithstanding.

Then I got to thinking about the whole idea of “closing doors” on certain parts of our lives; this branched into many perspectives of the whole idea of closing doors, burning bridges, closing the book, etc.

The idea of closing doors (even if ‘another one opens’) is usually considered FINAL, and usually thought of along with the other thoughts of “leaving the negative behind”.  That is where I started when I started thinking about writing this.

And then two days ago a special friend of ours chose to take his own life.

And then I realized it may not be possible to close doors.  I’m sure for Donna now, her old job and our friend will be forever linked in this one week’s happenings.  How do you close that door?  She can close the door on that time period of her life when she had that job, but that job is now eerily connected to the loss of someone we loved in an odd time-knot. Yes, you can somewhat compartmentalize thoughts and ideas, splitting hairs into infinity (a specialty of mine), however initial memories—those first immediate thoughts—are usually more general and quite inclusive until you give it more attention.

Even as I write this, I realize now that   I’m not sure where I’m going anymore.  Grief alone fucks with your head, and it certainly changed my direction of thoughts regarding the whole idea of ‘endings’.  What’s my point? I don’t know at the moment. I’m hoping I have something resembling one by the time I finish typing.

And I am going to be HONEST here.  There is no small amount of anger playing in my head right now, even as I KNOW that what causes a person to make such a final decision is what THEY KNOW to be true in their own hearts, no matter what anyone else’s perception of truth is.  (So, if you comment on this, don’t even tell me that.  I DO understand both sides.  But I am also a Libra.  Libras can FEEL both sides at the same time even as they know them to be diametrically opposite, and sometimes we just choose one side for a moment.  Even when I’m wallowing in any negative, I am totally aware of what’s positive, so allow me my freedom of choice, please.  I’ll get out of it soon enough.)

Back to the honest anger. I’m not going to get into this too much, because this is not about him, or suicide, or death (I have figured out that much so far).  Death always brings with it anger, so we will go with that general statement.  Then there’s the list of what you are angry about, starting with the most extreme and moving downward.

Honesty again (and I’m sorry if you don’t agree): This is not the top of the list, but there is part of me that’s angry that it had to happen this week (and for those who don’t fully understand what I am saying I will qualify this and say again that it is not at the top of my angry list-- the fact that it happened at all makes me angry first).  My best friend is going through a major upheaval in her life and this just made it harder.

Hey, nobody said we aren’t selfish in grief, either.

Back to the doors. No. Not the ones with the capital D.

Still not quite sure where this is going.

Ok, I’ll start with this:  The whole idea of time and NOW.  Everybody has their own beliefs on time and NOW.  I think Deepak Chopra explained it along the lines of everything happening NOW.  When you are doing something, you are doing it NOW; when you think of something, you are thinking of it NOW, and what you are thinking is the NOW reality.  So, it is all NOW.  Especially when you know that time is not linear, and that it is more stacked on top of itself like old ‘45s on a spindle.

Which would kind of imply that not only is it not possible to ‘close doors’, there may not be any ‘doors’ to close at all.

(Does that make any sense to you?  Hey, I know what I’m trying to say!)

We don’t close doors on our memories.  Yes, we are selective in which memories we choose to think about, but that is all about our focus.  Memories don’t go away, they sort of just get moved to the back of the room.

So, if we look at it that way, we are not even going through doors, we are just moving to another side of the room.  Everything is connected because it is in the same room.  Your good memories, your bad, your older lifestyles, your youth, your jobs, your phases… it’s all there in you.  Everything you’ve ever been through, everyone you’ve ever connected with becomes a part of you and you take it all everywhere you go.

Maybe what I’m trying to say is that there’s no way of really leaving anything or anyone behind.  And I’m saying this as much for me as I am for Donna (who probably already knew this anyway).  So the idea of ‘closing doors’ becomes moot, taking away the sting of the thought of shutting something out.  We move through one room; sometimes we are with the same people around us, sometimes some of those people remain in the other corners, but they are still in the same room.

Donna, as you move to another corner of the room, may your baggage be light (taking only the good stuff), and I hope your new spot is near a window with lots of happy sunlight streaming through it, bathing everything around you in its warmth.

(And I REALLY hope some of this made sense!)

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Lithuanian Cupcakes (Today the Laughter Died)

Sung to the tune of  Don MacLean's "American Pie". I think Mark would want this to be sung by Miley Cyrus in her underwear, Anna of Somerville banging out the tempo with her hooves, Percy Faith and his Orchestra accompanying.  To be followed with a rousing version of "Backin' Up" and cupcakes for everyone!  I'll miss you always, Markie.

Lithuanian Cupcakes (Today the Laughter Died)
A long, long time ago
I can still remember how his words would make me smile
And later when he wrote them down
(after dusting off our little town)
the rest of us were happy for a while

But December brought the cold
the morning’s news we all were told
the passing of our writer
quieted all our laughter

I’m well aware how we all cried
the tears have yet to even dry
because he touched us deep inside…
Today the laughter died

Goodbye, Mark, you were one helluva guy
messed our minds up when you spoke up and we never cared why
Stitches in our sides and even tears in our eyes
laughing, you could take us up to the sky
you could take us up to the sky

even in your random trains of thought
you made sure that we were not forgot
still unsure what you were looking for
From now on we’ll be on our own
to tend the seeds that you have sown
You’ll be with us forever more

And now, instead of our “Plan B”
you chose an exit strategy
left without a safety net
we hear you, “It’s not over yet!”

Nimrod, Haiku, Dukan Plan
there was so much more to this special man
it seems it all ended before it began…
today the laughter died

Goodbye, Mark, you were one helluva guy
messed our minds up when you spoke up and we never cared why
Stitches in our sides and even tears in our eyes
laughing, you could take us up to the sky
you could take us up to the sky

And here we are all in one place
our generation lost in space
knowing we’ve to start anew
We’ll find our smiles and our laughter
making sure to stay together
ensuring that your light will shine through

The one thing I’ll remember most
the smiles he shared from coast to coast
Let’s take our hats off, say a toast...
today the laughter died

Goodbye, Mark, you were one helluva guy
fucked our minds up when you spoke up and we never cared why
Stitches in our sides and even tears in our eyes
laughing, you could take us up to the sky
you could take us up to the sky

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Duet (I really wish I could write music)

I hear your song for the first time
and I know all the words
an unfamiliar tune, but the words are mine
time and space become blurred

your voice calls out to me
reaching out of the song
pulls me into the music
I begin to sing along

and I will sing together with you
feel my arms around you now
my heart will sing along with you
have to get through this somehow

we’re crying the same tears
now dampening my shirt
feeling the same pain
same emptiness, same hurt

and I will cry together with you
feel my arms around you now
my heart will cry along with you
have to get through this somehow

arms around one another
you’re not in this dance alone
swaying together, absorbing each other
knowing your pain is my own
and maybe you’ll find some comfort here
and maybe I’ll find some comfort here

and I will sing together with you
feel my arms around you now
my heart will sing along with you
have to get through this somehow

and I will sing together with you
feel my arms around you now
my heart will sing along with you
we’ll get through this somehow

(and maybe you’ll find some comfort here
and maybe I’ll find some comfort here)

Saturday, November 30, 2013

New Relationship Status

I'm changing my "Relationship Status"
to "in a relationship"
with a person I am committing myself to love
a person I promise to respect
a person whose worth I will value
whose thoughts and feelings
I will acknowledge and validate

someone I will listen to
and encourage
and believe in.
Her name is Me.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013


You wanted it
thought it was going to happen
it didn't work out
It wasn't meant to be
it wasn't “time”
you tell yourself that
hoping to fill that small pit in your stomach
you’re a big girl
you can accept it
and then you find
there’s more to that feeling
than you care to admit…

Saturday, November 16, 2013

EASY FACEBOOK ETIQUETTE: How to Get Along in the Neighborhood

Yesterday I created a meme for my blog, which I shared on Facebook (the meme).  Within five minutes I got a “your opinion is wrong” comment on the meme.  In spite of my response asking, basically, that people ‘agree to disagree politely’ the comments went from there, including this one:
“And I don’t think it’s right for someone to post something and not to expect someone to disagree, ESP(ECIALLY) with a huge list of friends that they don’t really know.  Hey, it’s a free country for a while, right?”  
                                                         (the Facebook post and it's comments)

I would be an absolute fool if I didn't expect people to disagree with me.  My issue is not in the fact that they disagree, it is how they go about it.  In this free country, we all voice our opinions in different ways.  Not all of them spark debates or arguments, either.  If you wear a cross or a Star of David around your neck, you are making a statement of your beliefs --a VISIBLE, PUBLIC statement of beliefs—yet no one would condone an Atheist running up to you and ripping the cross or star off of your neck in “disagreement”.  Think about it.  There’s “disagreement” and there’s “argumentative action”.

Here is a hopefully easy-to-understand idea of Facebook etiquette.  If we can all adhere to this, then maybe we can all get along here (or on any other social networking site):

FACEBOOK – Your neighborhood
YOUR PROFILE PAGE – Your house in the neighborhood
OTHER PROFILE PAGES – Your neighbors’ houses (whether you know them or not)
NEWSFEED – The street with all the houses on it

Pretend it is an election month in your neighborhood (Facebookland).  You put out a “Tastes Great” sign on your front yard (your profile page/wall).  Your neighbor puts out a “Less Filling” sign on his front yard (his profile page/wall).  The person in the next house down—who you don’t really know—puts out a sign that says “Where’s the Beef?” on his front yard (his profile page/wall).  Three different signs on three different front lawns, right next to each other.  These neighbors have to walk down to their mailboxes to get their mail and are able to see the signs on the lawns, yet are STILL able to say “Good Morning” to each other, even though each are putting up signs that offer different and conflicting opinions.  And none of them would dream of taking their own sign and putting it up on someone else’s lawn.

Then someone comes driving down the street (scrolling the news feed) and is able to see all the signs on each person’s front lawn (profile page/wall).  They are not going to get out of their car and deface the signs they don’t like with a can of spray paint (put a hateful, mean or argumentative comment on someone else’s post), they are just going to DRIVE BY IT (IGNORE).  If they agree with the sign, they may wave to the homeowner (“Like” the post), or even invite themselves over for coffee (comment, “I like that”).  This is how people with different views live together in the same neighborhood without killing each other.

If we can understand this ‘neighborhood etiquette’ concept, maybe we can apply it to Facebook.  And maybe we can also learn to allow other people to have their own differing opinions and still respect them as human beings.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Willis Lake Village and The Friendship of a Lifetime-- HAPPY BIRTHDAY EVE, DONNA AMADO!

Do you all realize it’s been FORTY YEARS since Willis Lake Village (Flintlock Road, Pheasant Run, Powderhorn Drive and Forge Drive)  - and to those who lived on South Crane Ave (up to Timmy Wade’s* house), FORTY YEARS since we chuckleheads disrupted life as you knew it (read Mark’s “The Nimrod” for a better explanation!)  Can you say, “There goes the neighborhood!”?

And it’s been FORTY YEARS since I met my bestest friend, Donna.

I can’t begin to talk about my relationship with Donna, without including the neighborhood where we met and grew up, and a lot of you.  I’ve tagged as many of you as I could from that area; you are all a part of it.  We had a solid core of kids all around the same age at the time—obviously, my focus is on my age group.

We were one of the first families in the brand-new neighborhood in 1973, just before I started first grade (count the years, Donna, it’s been 40!!) (Donna LOVES when I say that!).  I didn’t know anything about the planning of the neighborhood, why it was built or why we moved there (hell, I didn’t even know that section of Taunton was called “Oakland” until after my own kids were born! I knew Whittenton, the Weir, East Taunton… we had the Taunton West Little League, ergo: West Taunton?).  All I knew is that EVERY SINGLE HOUSE had kids.  We had a great neighborhood, didn’t we?  I wish my kids had been able to grow up like we did, in a neighborhood like that.

My family (Roulusonis) lived at 103 Flintlock Road.  If you looked straight down into the neighborhood, our house was almost the last visible house on the right, where the road bent to the left.  You knew which house was ours by all the cars in the driveway that Dad was either working on or racing. Very LOUD cars.

Our neighborhood was tight.  Of course we had our issues, but for the most part we all got along, and we all knew each other.  Most of you even knew that I was NOT Margaret Wade.

Random neighborhood memories:

Sitting on the no-longer-there wall at the top of Flintlock Road, where there used to be signs that said “Willis Lake Village”.  (Remember when that was our bus stop, and the ‘big kids’ were blowing up snakes and frogs with firecrackers?)

Riding our bikes down “the Big Hill” (Forge Drive).

Trick or Treating in the neighborhood.  SO many houses; SO much candy! (Hey, remember when Rik dressed up like that guy from KISS for Halloween?—wait! What?)

Block parties on Pheasant Run (Eddie Rabbitt’s “I love a Rainy Night” always makes me think of those)

Playing football out in the street in front of Mike’s house “’til the lights came on”.

The path in the woods between our house and the Amancio’s house that led to Willis Pond. The bent tree that we used as a see-saw.  What else did we do in those woods, down that path with the little creek over the years? And Truth or Dare, Denise?

(Did we actually inhale? And does that count?)

Park and Rec behind the Taunton Nursing Home

We all went to Barnum School for two years before they moved us all to Bennett School.

(And here’s where my memories get a little my core-group-of-friends-centric: )

Mrs. Nadeau’s class (she had me and both of my sisters three years in a row and was pregnant with a new child each of those three years!).  Remember racing each other to get our before-school work done first? When Michael got his pencil stuck in the ceiling?  She called you guys “pills” because you were ‘hard to get down’.  How mad did Mr. O’Neill get?  And how could we tell? He’d put his head down on the desk and you could see his ears getting red! Mark’s comedy skills, I believe, were honed here.

Donna, remember that you called me “Pepto Bismal” many times during these Bennett years because of this pair of hideous patchwork pink pants I used to wear?

The Girls’ Club.  Rollerskating and “Molding and Painting”.  Vanilla, chocolate and strawberry taffy.  Swimming at the Boys’ Club and having to wear those STUPID rubber swim hats.  Each mother taking turns driving.  We all knew Donna’s phone number because her mother, Nancy, had an effective intonation of it: “EIGHT two-two, THREE one, five SEV-en!”  I remember being in Nancy’s car, squeezed in the front seat between her and Donna, when Donna’s door flew open and Nancy was able to reach across both of us to pull it shut!

Being in my little pool in the backyard when Grandma came out wearing only a wet towel, jumping around and screaming “It’s a BOY!” when my brother was born.  (We had a number of babies born that year: Bobby, Heather, Missy).  Donna, when you mentioned Grandma’s stuffed artichokes in conversation last month, I almost cried.  I was so glad you remembered that.

They taught us the New York Hustle in gym class at Bennett School, which we all continued practicing in our driveway, “Staying Alive” playing on Dad’s jukebox.

The Blizzard of ’78.  Sleds to the store for milk, bread, eggs and beer.  When the plows finally made it to our neighborhood, celebrating being out of school for the week by turning the plowed chunks of ice by the road into desks and just sitting in them.  Donna got one leg stuck in a snow drift all the way up to her thigh.  I had to be the lucky one to go wake up her father to pull her out.  He thought she was faking at first!  We had two of the scariest fathers (both Bobs) on our side of the neighborhood—you did NOT want to have to wake them up!) WHAT WE DID TO MY FATHER’S RACECAR THE NIGHT THE BLIZZARD STARTED! Climbing up the snowdrifts behind the car and sliding down the roof and hood onto the snow in front of it--- and he didn’t see the damage our zippers and buckles did until the snow cleared! 

Fun and Games’ song “The Most Beautiful Girl in the World” with Mike Gargano. “AAAhhhh   AAAhhhh YES!” jumping off the chairs.

Playing “Charlie’s Angels” with and without the dolls.  You were Sabrina, I was Kelly.

“Flipping” Star Wars and Charlie’s Angels cards.

Making up dances wearing ponchos my Grandmother crocheted as skirts.

The Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew.  SHAUN CASSIDY.  …sigh…

And then we went to Mulcahey School.

Crunchy hair at the bus stop on cold mornings.  You can’t blow dry a perm!

Being the first (and sometimes only) two out on the dance floor at the dances (Chris Menard, when you came up to us on the dance floor at our 25th high school reunion and said it was like a ‘flashback’ seeing us dancing together—that was my favorite part of the night!)

“Jogging” at 4:30 am.  Donna would climb into my bedroom window (I never understood why we did it like that, since we’d go outside using the front door).  Jogging quickly turned into walking, which turned into eating cereal, sitting out in the middle of Flintlock Road.

Swinging upside down on the swings and scraping foreheads on the ground

Wearing shorts under our dresses and standing up on the swings at Mulcahey, scaring the shit out of Mrs. Bednarz.

Larry Masterson at Mulcahey

Being Mrs. Jacobs’ ‘pets’. 

The Pirates of Penzance, and our trip to NY to see it.  Freddy trying to get a room with girls by putting his name down as “Frederica Boltona”--  and he was your date to my wedding in 2001!

Betting pennies on who laughed first over The Monkees and The Little Rascals after spending the afternoon in Debbie’s pool.

Donna was the person I called the night I ran away when we were 13.  And she and her mother came to pick me up at Reese’s Variety (I will always call it that).

Rollerskating and bike riding to school

Super pinkies handball in the tennis courts/superballs against the wall at Mulcahey before school.

When Richie and Louise moved into the neighborhood!

Mike, Joey and Stevie and BMX.

Her dad’s band, and Dave scaring the shit out of us on Halloween

Meatloaf’s “Bat out of Hell” album.

Jump roping

Double Dutch Bus and Tainted Love

Reading “Are You There God, It’s Me, Margaret” and waiting for our periods.

Reading ALL the Trixie Belden books.

Parties at my house where we’d spend weeks deciding which 45s to put in the jukebox, and after the party Dad would laugh at us because out of the 80 records we put in, we would usually only listen to 6 or 7 over and over again.  (That was, if we made it through a whole party without Dad shutting the whole thing down!)  REO Speedwagon and Journey songs feature prominently here.

Our 8th Grade Grad trip to Rocky Point.  Donna was on the ski lift ride (what was it called? The Sky ___?) and her flip-flop fell off while she was over my head.

After my parents’ divorce, when I moved out of the neighborhood briefly with my mother, Donna and Debbie were walking by my house and Dad was outside mowing the lawn.  They made the mistake of stopping and asking him how I was doing.  They got stuck there for two hours listening to him lecture about the importance of a good education, the moral of the story being “Hold the pickles”.  That was Dad’s thing; if you didn’t get good grades, you would end up a lifelong employee at McDonald’s.

Unfortunately, we went to separate high schools, and I moved to CA for a year. We picked up again, right where we left off after I came back.  I’ll never forget almost 10 years ago when she called me to tell me that she was pregnant, and I laughed “better you than me”—then three weeks later I called to tell you that you must’ve been contagious, because I was pregnant, too!  And our girls, both born in December have a great jump on the best-friendship, with the dubious distinction of being the next Donna and Susie!

Because Donna’s a nurse, she became my Dr. Spock.

Because she’s a Scorpio, she was also my Dr. Ruth!

In 2010, my daughter Deren surprised me for my birthday with tickets to see Tears For Fears at the House of Blues in Boston, and was even able to book Donna to go with me!  That made the night so much better! Best surprise ever!

Oh, yeah, and then there was that time last year at her house when, for the FIRST time in my life, I was “that person” at the party who was ‘holding up the ground’!

When my friend Don was dying last year, she surprised me at my mother’s house on my birthday, knowing I was upset that that day was the last I would see him.

When I almost lost my apartment this past summer, she was right here immediately for me as well.

I can talk to Donna about anything, at any time, about anything, with no judgment and unwavering support.  I only hope that when all is said and done that I’ve been as much of a friend to her as she has been to me.  One thing I’ve learned, especially over the past few years, is the value of a good friendship.  I have it all, with Donna.  There are so many more memories I did not include here.  Thank you to everyone else that was a part of them!  I know there will be so many more to come!

Thank you so much, Donna, for everything over the PAST FORTY YEARS! J  (I’m gonna keep saying that!)



And for your actual birthday, there will be PICTURES!

*Sorry, John, I will always think of you as Tim!

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Making Music

Like the strumming of a guitar
Or in the tickling of ivory keys
Fingertips trailing across skin
Strike the chords
Expressed in indrawn breaths
Low moans
Soft sighs
Entire symphonies are played out
Words are sung in arias
And chanted in cadence
While hearts as drums
Beat out the rhythm
A graceful adagio
Gradually increasing in tempo
As music and lyrics come together
Reaching a crescendo
Of melodious passion
In the music made by two

Tuesday, October 1, 2013


                  On October 2, 2013 I will be 46 years old!

                  I do make a rather large deal about my birthday; it is very special to me.  I make sure to do or buy ONE thing for myself (no matter how small) and designate it as “For Me, For My Birthday”.  I tell people it’s my birthday, I even give everyone their “two months’ notice”. I wear a tiara—a very SPARKLEY tiara.  Every single year. (It makes me feel special). (Cue MARIA…”I Feel Pretty”)

                  Every single year, this one included, someone asks me why I make such a big deal about my birthday.  I grew up listening to my father say, “I don’t care about my birthday; it’s just another day.”  First of all let me point out that every day is really ‘just another day’; any significance, good or bad, is what we choose to assign to it.  Secondly, I disagree on the dismissals of birthdays.  Just look at them from the perspective of one who knows he or she may not live to see another one.  That alone lends importance to the day.

To me, my birthday is two things:

              1.      My Birthday is my own, personal “New Year’s Day”.  I worked in bars for too many years to see December 31 as anything other than “Amateur Night” or a “party” holiday.  That right there takes any valuable significance away from it.  The whole “New Year’s Resolution” thing—a great idea—but very impersonal from the sheer volume of participants.  At best, most of us only actually have accomplished one solid thing by the next December 31: we successfully mastered writing the year down correctly.  It may have taken us a few months to do it, but by the end of the year we can write out a check with the correct date on it.  In any case, the end of the calendar year celebration is impersonal—everyone is doing it.  On My Birthday Eve, I reflect on the year I’ve had, the years before, mistakes, triumphs… all of it.  And I promise myself to try better, harder.  I’m not in competition with anyone else to follow through with my resolutions; no teacher has ever asked me to write down resolutions I’ve made on my birthday; nobody asks what I plan to do or be.  It’s very personal.  And on My Birthday Eve the next year, I am only accountable to myself if I’ve achieved or not achieved my goals.  Because things we hope for ourselves, and promise to and for ourselves are very personal.  And only we ourselves are directly affected by them.  MY Birthday is personal; it’s about Me.
              2.      My Birthday is the one day of the year that I (capital “I”) celebrate ME.  The day that I fully appreciate all that I am and have.  The one day that I am guaranteed not to be so hard on myself, so judgmental of myself, so insecure.  We go through our lives, nose to the grindstone, looking down so often.  On My Birthday I make sure to stop and smell some roses. To look up, no matter what the rest of the year up to that point has been like.  I even appreciate my age.  I laugh at the fact that I am now what I used to think “old” was.  Because I don’t feel it. Or, at least I don't feel what I thought I'd feel like at this age!  Every new year brings more to the table.  Even the lima beans (and I can’t stand lima beans).  Because each new year also brings-to me-hope.  Even if it’s the ass-backwards form of hope implied in the statement, “Well, it can’t be any worse than last year.”!

So there you have it. I’m a Birthday Fairy and now you know why. 

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to get my tiara ready for the morning.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

September 11, 2013- View From a Plane Through Hope

I went to the Esplanade in Boston on the Fourth of July this year to watch the Boston Pops.  It is something I love and go whenever I can.  It wasn't until I got close and saw the intense security set-up that I remembered that the Fourth of July Celebration had been the originally planned target of the terrorism bombings.

Today, I am on a plane.  Today, September 11. This is my tenth flight in a year’s time, yet today it’s different. And not.

I lived and worked in Boston in September of 2001.  My brother was on military leave
and on a flight home that Tuesday morning, the 11th, to attend my wedding scheduled for 10 days later. He was in the air when the terrible events of that day took place. We had to endure interminable hours waiting to hear from him, or of him or his flight.  The buildings in Boston were being evacuated, mine included, and there was literally panic in the streets.  And we were the lucky ones.

We all know what happened that day, and there’s no need for me to get into that.  But before I go any further, I do want to just extend my feelings of love and mental support first to the victims and their families, and then to everyone else.  We were all affected by the events of that day, the only difference has been a matter of degree.  And, yes, that is an extreme understatement and is not meant to take anything away from those who suffered the most and paid the highest of prices.

And before I go further still, I’d like to warn some of you that I do not promote hate, nor ‘an eye for an eye’.  I am an eternal optimist and I believe in the good in people, and I do believe ‘things will get better’.  If you are unable to stomach this kind of talk, you may want to take your attention elsewhere.

I believe in a collective consciousness.  I believe our thoughts are very powerful.  I believe that a large part of the problems we have in this world stem from feelings of disconnectedness and isolation, and the types of thinking that cause us to feel we are ‘different’ from everyone else.  There is a great photo floating around the internet of the Earth with the caption beneath it that says, “I don’t see any borders”. Think about it.

There is also a very famous quote: “There but for the grace of God, go I.”  You don’t have to believe in God to understand what this means.  It means, very basically, it can happen to anyone.   Winning the lottery, getting hit by lightning, being victimized in an act of terrorism, or anything else can happen to anyone, anytime, anywhere.  Your race, age, religion, gender, sexual orientation, political affiliation or favorite 80’s band will not protect you from a natural disaster, random twists of fate, or the end results of choices made by another.  In that fact alone, we are all the same.

Still don’t think we are all the same? That we are all connected? Try this little exercise with me:  sit and look at the people around you and notice what they are doing. I’m on the plane and I see people pulling out books to read, some drinking coffee, some settling down for some rest, some pulling paperwork out of a briefcase, some just staring out the window, or doing many other little nothing things that we all do.  When you fly, what do you do? Do you take a book? Do you make sure you have your Dunkin’ Donuts coffee (or “other” brand) so you don’t have to drink that terrible airline coffee?  Do you plan to catch up on sleep?  Bring work to do with you?  I’m sure most of you can answer yes to at least one of those questions, some of you can even answer yes to most of them.  On that small scale we are all very much alike. 

Let’s go further. Specifically back to that morning in September (as I’m sure most of you remember many details about that day).  You woke up in the morning and prepared for your day. You may have hit the snooze button on your alarm once or six times before you managed to drag yourself out of bed.  Maybe you showered before you left for work or wherever you were going; maybe you showered before you went to sleep and had everything ready so all you had to do was get up, get dressed and go.  Maybe you shared breakfast with a spouse or children or beloved pet.  You may have had someone there to wake up to, wish a “Good Morning” to, kiss or pat on the head before you walked out the door.  Business as usual, right?  Do you think you are alone in that? Do you think you are the only one who has a morning routine?  Do you think your morning routine alone is so very different from so many other people? Do you think how they started their day mattered in any way to how it ended?

When you look at people, really look at them, and consider what their day was like before you saw them you realize that many of the things they did, or experienced was very similar to what you did or experienced.  When you look at it that way, including small details, you begin to realize how alike we all are.  We are all just people.  Our differences in political, racial, sexual issues matter on a more basal level about as much as our differences in our favorite color.  Your morning could have started the exact same way as one or more of the people on any of those four planes used in the attacks, or in the World Trade Center or Pentagon.  That thought alone can make you begin to realize how alike we all are. How connected we all are.

So, here I am, sitting on the plane that is now delayed by a pilot’s faulty microphone jack, realizing I may miss my connecting flight home.  And it’s okay.  Sometimes, ‘business as usual’ can be a little too complacent and easily taken advantage of in many ways.  Sometimes small bumps along the way can keep us aware of making sure we appreciate things when they are good.  Maybe more people thinking like that can affect the collective consciousness enough to turn the tide so we all appreciate more and band together without needing a major catastrophe to force us into it.  And maybe, too, we can someday reach that point where a unified, connected, collective awareness can spread across the globe, preventing attacks and mean-spiritedness by removing ideas of separation and disconnectedness.

Go ahead, think what you will about that last part.  I don’t care how many millions of people there are on this planet—we are all here together on only ONE planet and that’s a base-level connection no one can disqualify.

I am proud to be in an airplane today.  I am proud that we have not become completely crippled by hate.  I am proud that since 2001, it is becoming more and more obvious that people are willing to band together in the face of terrible acts of destruction and tragedy.  Nothing has been perfect. Some things have gotten worse, but the show of unity and strength from the people is building.  You can see it.  Boston Strong? New York Strong? Washington Strong? Pennsylvania Strong?...  how about World Strong?

N.B.  Thank you to all the military and firefighters and police who risk all to watch out for and protect us.  Thank you to the TSA agents in the unfortunate position of a somewhat newly necessary job of double-checking on us.  I am sorry your jobs are not appreciated more (even sometimes by me).  To those who gave all, thank you.  To those left behind, I love you and I am so sorry. To the rest of us, together we can move mountains.

September 11, 2012 Facebook Note

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

A Special Birthday

It rained last year on this day
I was so mad
I tried to dress up for you
and by the time I got there
I was a bedraggled mess
we celebrated your birthday
for forty-five minutes on the train
and during the fifteen minute walk to the hospital
(I always hated leaving you there)
making the most of every short moment
(each moment thereafter became shorter still, as time went on)
I remember running, alone,
back to the station
--and missing my train
and not feeling bad about the two-hour wait
because I was still closer to you there
than I would have been at home.
A month later, we celebrated my birthday
on that same train, for the same forty-five minutes
(I remember telling you that it was only fair
since that was how we spent your birthday)
Only this time we had to take another train to the hospital
--walking was not an option
time and disease progress at their own pace
whether we want them to or not
leaving you there then was the hardest
that last hug, that last goodbye
not knowing even then
that they WERE the last hug, the last goodbye
the last smile.
It rained that day, too.
I haven’t yet checked the weather, or looked outside to see what’s going on.  Whether or not it’s raining again on your birthday this year, one year later, is of no importance.  Everything about this day could be the same as last year and it would still be different.  You are not here.  I still struggle with moments of disbelief, that you could be very much here one moment and gone the next; very much a part of my daily life one minute and only a memory (a term I resent) the next.

I learned a lot from you.  I can imagine the look on your face if I was ever able to tell you that directly: there’d be a flash of smug pride before you casually looked down at your nails oh-so-offhandedly… then you’d look back up at me and seeing how earnest I was, you’d bite your lower lip and then just smile at me in sheer pleasure.  You had the happiest smile.

You made a difference in my life. You made a difference in me.  I already wrote in another post here how much you've done for me (and you said you’d read everything I write, and I don’t expect that to have changed, even now!).  And still, the more time that passes I realize you taught or showed me even more. You've helped me to be able to see more, to understand more about my relationships with others, and to realize the varying levels of connection I have with those around me. Every connection, every interaction of any kind with any person means something. I understand that so much more now. I can appreciate it more now. I am even able to recognize the deeper connections, the stronger ties of consciousness that I may have otherwise overlooked in ignorance, causing me to miss out on what is looking to be even more wonderful life-changing experiences, deeper passions and love.

I am getting excited to learn more of the legacy you left behind for me, the gifts of insight and thought that I am becoming aware of more and more. It is in this that I find more reasons to celebrate the day of your birth than to solely mourn your passing.

Happy Birthday, Don.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

How Am I?

Have you ever been asked a question you truly didn't know how to answer?  Of course you have; but did you ever think that the question that threw you the most could be as simple as this one: “How are you?”?

How are you?

I never answer that question with just a pat answer. I’m the first person to warn everyone, “Don’t ask if you really don’t want to know!”  I talk, I vent, and I ‘air out’ to anyone who’ll listen—or who’s within earshot. I even volunteer information. All of it; the good, the bad, the ugly. 

How am I?  Right now? Terrible.  Wonderful.  Each answer is both completely true and completely false, and I don’t feel right saying either.  I am a very lucky person.  I have wonderful, loving people around me.  I always have.  And even in the worst of situations, things have always worked out in the end. Always.

However, I have a problem right now. Imagine that.  ONE problem.  Just one: I did not get the job I wanted.  Let me rephrase that: I did not get the job I NEEDED.  My two jobs are somewhat seasonal, and in a horrible coincidence, it appears to be ‘off-season’ for both.  What kills me is that this one problem is a daily concern with a rather large rippling effect.  How will I afford the new apartment I just got?  How will I pay the bills to keep up the apartment?  How will I pay for my car? How will I feed my child? And these worries, because they are on a daily basis, can tend to put a serious damper on what would otherwise be a truly wonderful life.

I’m a single mother.  And again, let me say how very lucky I am.  I am a single mother in the fact that I live alone with my youngest daughter (her older sister lives on her own now), but I am not single; I am not doing ‘all this’ alone and I never have. I have an incredible support system around me in my family and friends.  I even have people who spoil me.  We all help and support each other.  Unfortunately, I've been the one who seems to need it all the time now.  My ego has been crushed almost completely (and, yes, I can see the good in that) and I feel pretty useless to anyone, my family, my friends, my children and myself.  Add to that the “mommy guilt”: not being able to do any real ‘summer’ activities with my daughter because I don’t even have the gas to go and do even the free stuff/ignoring her while I spend hours on the computer trying to line up jobs – some that I can’t take because she’s out of school and I can’t pay a babysitter until I have one/being preoccupied with survival worries and not being able to give her my full attention…the list goes on.  Any parent struggling in any way understands this.

I do have jobs lined up…for later.  That means there is a light at the end of the tunnel…later.  I will be able to pay my bills… later.  I can pay people back…later.  I have that, at least—and at most. I am still lucky; there are other people struggling without anything noticeable coming “later”.  But I've been worried I’ll lose everything before that time comes.  In the past five months I've only worked two.  Unemployment’s new system still has ‘bugs’ in it that are preventing me from even collecting that.  I've exhausted all resources (myself included), and I’m at the point now where landlords and car finance companies and utility companies don’t bother greeting me too friendly when they go out of their way to speak to me.

Two weeks ago, I couldn't have talked about this (check the date on my last blog).  If I did, this would have been titled, “A Pity Party”.  Being in the thick of things allows no clear vision for anything else, and certainly puts a damper on anything enjoyable. In the past two weeks’ time, I have been very lucky…and blessed…to have my people around me who have helped immeasurably.  Also now, with the passing of time I am that much closer to that point where I know I can start to pay back—not as close as I’d like, but definitely closer.  I've had some happy surprises.  I've had other…surprises that have still worked out in my favor.  I have even been able to go grocery shopping—REAL grocery shopping, and not the “I’ll get what I need for my kid and eat whatever’s left over”. (It’s amazing what a good meal at home can do to clear your head.)

(In rereading this up to now I think, “Wow. One problem. Four paragraphs.”)

One problem.  In spite of the fact that it affects every other aspect of my life, it is still just ONE problem.  I see so many unhappy people around me. I am not unhappy. Yes, I have my moments of being down, but I am not unhappy.  I am a fucking cheerleader.  No, I’m THE fucking cheerleader. I have love, I have family, I have friends (I cannot stress enough how important it is to keep your friends close).  I still (still!) have a roof over my head and enough food to eat that I can function.  (Even if it’s been a struggle lately to keep these things, I still have them!) I have my health, my children are healthy. I have music (see most of my other blogs).  I have LAUGHTER.  So what, lately some of my laughs have been bitter, but I’m still laughing.

Love, family, friends, health, music, laughter (coffee, chocolate, and sometimes steak!).  I have all this.  All this adds up to more than one.  And each one, even individually, has the power to affect every other aspect of my life—even in the areas of my one problem.  I am still lucky.  I am still blessed. And I still know I will make it through this.

So why am I writing this? In part, to just get it off my chest.  To finally write in my blog (!). To maybe apologize to a few people for my isolation. To see for myself what I truly have (‘make a list’ anyone?) in black and white. To remind myself to appreciate that I do have so much more than I feel I lack.  To show my gratitude to everyone around me for their love and support.  To thank the Universe in advance for the truly wonderful things that are in store for me, knowing that I will have learned enough to be able to see and appreciate all of it.

And to answer that question:

“How are you?”

I am






P.S. And you know what? I’m using the last of the gas in my car to take my daughter to the beach tomorrow. We will have our summer day!

P.P.S. DAMN! Now I have to shave!

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Thank you, Rolling Stone Magazine

Hiltons, Kardashians and Tsarnaev, OH MY!

 ”Our hearts go out to the victims of the Boston Marathon bombing, and our thoughts are always with them and their families. The cover story we are publishing this week falls within the traditions of journalism and Rolling Stone’s long-standing commitment to serious and thoughtful coverage of the most important political and cultural issues of our day. The fact that Dzhokhar Tsarnaev is young, and in the same age group as many of our readers, makes it all the more important for us to examine the complexities of this issue and gain a more complete understanding of how a tragedy like this happens. –THE EDITORS” Rolling Stone Magazine, July 17, 2013

And with this statement, Rolling Stone Magazine defended its decision to put Boston Marathon Bomber, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev on the cover of their popular magazine. The cover. Who are they trying to kid? Maybe they do have a “long-standing commitment to serious and thoughtful coverage of the most important political and cultural issues of our day” but what it is that they are most known for across say, 98% of their reader base? The cover. Any artist or band would kill for a chance to grace the cover of what is considered the premiere MUSIC magazine across the globe. After this issue, that might be what is needed to get them there.

 The article may, in fact be exactly what they have touted, “an examination of the complexities of this issue” to “gain a more complete understanding of how a tragedy like this happens.”. The article may be Pulitzer-worthy. However many people, myself included, will never know because we will never read it. The decision to put his picture on the cover – the prime piece of real estate in the world of the rich and famous – gives him the validation and attention any potential serial killer or mass murderer (or terrorist) craves. I cannot support that. I will not purchase the magazine, nor will I read the article. Rolling Stone has to know the impact they themselves have cultivated regarding the status and notoriety gained from that coveted cover spot, as well as the associated responsibility.

 So what’s next? I can see it now: MTV will film an episode of “Cribs” from his jail cell, the camera panning his private single-occupancy suite (since we must be concerned about his safety, and not release him to the general public), finally closing with a shot of the framed portrait of his picture on the cover of Rolling Stone. 

As a society, we have been complaining about the fact that our most famous celebrities are the people who have gained their fame not by doing anything worthwhile or valuable, but instead because of money they have been born into or insanely foolish and morally depraved acts, or just the entertainment value they provide by making themselves look stupid (along with the occasional sex tape). Paris Hilton? Any one of the Kardashians? Honey Boo Boo? Those Jersey… Shores people?

Collectively WE are responsible for giving these characters a validation that, according to my 8-year-old daughter, should go to “the police officers who catch the bad guys”. We watch reality television. We buy magazines and watch entertainment news shows that celebrate their lives, their affairs, their melt-downs and such. We buy products with their names on them. If we chose not to feed into and support the lives of the notorious, we may never have reached a point where anyone would think that putting a Facebook-profile-worthy picture of an alleged terrorist on the cover of an internationally recognized (and generally presumed) music magazine was a good idea. The fault and blame is collectively ours. We allowed things to get this far. 

There is one good thing that can come of this: because Rolling Stone is such a high-profile media venue, they have essentially held up a mirror to the mass collective and forced us to look at ourselves and what we have become. If we can make the decision (and follow through with it) to celebrate the lives and stories and situations that build up and enhance the betterment of society instead of relishing the fools, maybe we can begin to affect the general quality and tone of our lives by putting our focus and money on the people who go out of their way to enhance our world and consciousness.

Another viewpoint, posted by my friend Martin Smith:

What irony, people are upset with Rolling Stone magazine, and rightfully so for their distaste in choosing a controversial and insulting picture for the cover in the most recent issue. People are extremely upset and I agree with them. Yet when the major news media companies do nothing but talk/report on a alleged murder case that has promoted destruction, violence, and escalated racial tensions across the country (I say alleged murder due to the jury finding him not guilty, I do not contest that a man killed another man) people just want their voices heard and "justice to be served". Does no one realize that, you, the general public is quick to react/show support for banning a controversial topic, yet someone turns a death into a race issue and the country goes to hell?

Both of these issues NEED to be left to the court system, and out of the news, to decide the fate. We as citizens of this (great) country elected these (moronic) officials to write our laws and enforce them. You have a problem with the way things are run stop voting for unqualified idiots. Where is the justice for OUR fellow citizens that were murdered in cold blood in Bengahzi? What about the outrage over politicians having more time off and assorted benefits then the general populace? You want change, want to fix these issues, pay better attention to who you vote for. Look back in history, when this country was founded, it was an honor to be an elected official, now it is just a good business deal. People want to talk equal rights, lets talk equal rights. Why does a child of a congressman/woman go to college for free? How many of us are looking forward to paying our student loans off for the next 10 years at an interest rate that will only cripple our ability to live prosperously, and some get it all for free? Where is the outrage for that?